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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
Rep. Valadao's dangerous HR 3964 uses drought as excuse to play politics
Everybody concerned about future of California's rivers, fish, and people should oppose both Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the twin tunnels and Representative David Valadao's HR 3964. Both are water grabs pushed by the same corporate agribusiness interests that contribute heavily to the campaigns of Governor Brown and Congressional Republicans such as David Valadao.
Rep. Valadao's dangerous HR 3964 uses drought as excuse to play politics
by Dan Bacher
While Governor Jerry Brown is fast-tracking the environmentally destructive Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels, Representative David Valadao has introduced legislation, HR 3964, that will further imperil struggling Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations.
Restore the Delta (RTD) today slammed HR 3964 (Valadao) as “dangerous legislation being put forward by southern San Joaquin Valley congressmen using the drought as an excuse to play politics with California’s water management challenges.”
“This bill, by Representative David Valadao of Hanford, is being misrepresented as an ‘Emergency Water Delivery Act,’ ignoring the fact that there is no water to deliver. This is partly the result of the over pumping of the Delta last year by 800,000 acre-feet. That water should have been held for an extended dry period,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director.
Like similar legislation (HR 1837) sponsored by Representative Devin Nunes that died in the Senate two years ago, Barrigan-Parrilla said HR 3964 would reduce water quality and water reliability for Delta communities and Delta farmers.
“The special interest agribusiness water districts behind the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) are the same proponents behind this disastrous Delta pumping bill," she stated. "This reveals that their end goal has never been anything more than taking as much water as they wish from the Delta and Northern California rivers to support their unsustainable businesses."
Barrigan-Parrilla also criticized Governor Brown's statement that the federal legislation "would open wounds in the water wars" while he is planning the construction of the twin tunnels, a massive government boondoggle that is likely to hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species.
“Governor Brown's statement that such Federal legislation would open wounds in the water wars and undo progress in planning is disingenuous. The State's allowance of over pumping in 2013 brought us to this precipice, " she explained. "And the BDCP, which will increase water export levels from the Delta, is nothing more than a greenwashed version of the same old idea -- moving as much water as possible from one part of the state to another when it's available, allowing the estuary to collapse during drought times.”
“During our present time of extreme drought, both our Federal and State political leaders should be focused on creating long-term local water projects that will actually make new water for the system, and serve California's long-term needs, instead rehashing the same old broken idea again and again,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.
Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and an expert on Delta water quality issues, stated, “It seeks to ensure water flows to agribusiness in the western and southern San Joaquin Valley at the expense of smaller Delta family farmers.”
If passed, HR 3964 would:
• Strip Endangered Species protections for iconic Central Valley Chinook salmon and other endangered species that are required under both California law and federal law.
• Overturn the court-approved San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act that, after twenty years of litigation, provided water for the San Joaquin River and salmon. All parties to the litigation and numerous water districts in the San Joaquin Valley supported the Settlement and the Act.
• Gut the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), a landmark law that made fish and wildlife a purpose of the Central Valley Project for the first time in history. It requires compliance with state law, encourages water conservation, makes modest reforms to reduce water subsidies, and contributes water for the recovery of endangered fish species.
• Override current protection for the Merced River under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and modify water contracts for certain contractors to provide significantly more water than they are entitled to under their current contracts.
Jennings said, "The present crisis could have been avoided, and is a direct result of egregious mismanagement of the state’s water supply system by the state and federal water projects. Excessive water exports and the failure to prepare for inevitable drought have created a decades-long disaster for fisheries, and placed the people and economic prosperity of northern California at grave risk. The State's obsession with tunneling under the Delta does nothing to address drought, or put us on a path to correct the misuse of limited water supplies."
"California needs to invest in local alternatives to the tunnels that improve water supplies in dry years," concluded Barrigan-Parrilla. "Groundwater cleanup, recycling, storage and other projects are far superior to the tunnels. Even investments in these programs in urban areas can free up water for farms and fisheries."
The Environmental Water Caucus also issued a news release slamming the legislation on Monday. (http://calsport.org/news/wp-content/uploads/Press-Release-Dangerous-Legislation-HR3964.pdf_
The Caucus said, "Representative David Valadao from Hanford in the San Joaquin Valley has developed Congressional legislation (HR 3964) that he describes as an “Emergency Water Delivery Act.” But instead of dealing with the problems of recurring California drought, Representative Valadao is using the current drought as an excuse to legislatively overturn California and other federal water laws in order to provide more water for his corporate agricultural constituents in the San Joaquin Valley."
Nick Di Croce of the Environmental Water Caucus summed up the legislation: “It’s a sample of San Joaquin Valley agriculture’s insatiable appetite for irrigation water, and it would not help the state of California through the current drought; it is not a drought response; it’s politics.”
Conner Everts of the Southern California Watershed Alliance describes HR 3964 as “an unprecedented assault on a state’s ability to enact and support its own water laws, and it is an undisguised water grab in favor of one district to the detriment of other parts of the state, all engineered by the federal government.”
In a letter to the Congress, the EWC has requested that this "over misguided" legislation be withdrawn.
Everybody concerned about future of California's rivers, fish, and people should oppose both Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the twin tunnels and Representative David Valadao's HR 3964. Both are water grabs pushed by the same corporate agribusiness interests that contribute heavily to the campaigns of Governor Jerry Brown and Congressional Republicans such as David Valadao.
To take action, you can go to the Friends of the River (FOR) website and send an email to your Representatives. Don't delay, since a vote on the legislation is expected on Wednesday, February 5, according to FOR. https://secure2.convio.net/fotr/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=40D988BF54A3499A613A78F873FD59FA.app261a?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=321.
You can also take action by going to the Restore the Delta website: http://www.restorethedelta.org/action-alert-tell-your-representatives-to-oppose-hr3964/