Congressmen call for California drought relief

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

On the heels of Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration of a drought emergency, several California congressmen gathered last week in the Central Valley to call for legislation providing the necessary water supplies for local farmers.

During his acknowledge of the California crisis, Brown urged residents to reduce water consumption in the face of the emergency. However, his announcement also brings with it a relaxing of many environmental restrictions which inhibit the distribution of water to food growers.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, along with Reps. David Valadao and Devin Nunes, is calling on Congress to pass legislation that will provide immediate relief for California. Their proposal includes:

• Turning on the delta pumps this year and next year to capture future rain events

• Ending restoration flows in the San Joaquin River for this year and next year in order to stop wasting water

• Establishing a bipartisan, emergency joint committeee from the House and Senate to devise a long-term solution

Speaker of the House John Boehner joined the California elected officials during a press conference last week.

“California is facing one of the worst droughts in history,” said Valadao. “Congress cannot make it rain, but they can provide relief from burdensome environmental regulations”

“As we approach another drought year in the Central Valley, it is imperative that we take immediate action to provide water supplies to our local families, farmers, and small businesses,” said McCarthy. “Restrictive environmental regulations reduce our supplies when water is available in wet years, but exacerbates the negative impacts during years of drought.

“At a time when we are in dire need of water, we must provide flexibility and allow water to flow around the state. Our legislation that is being developed would provide emergency drought relief for our state and our local communities.”

“The Senate’s rejection of all House initiatives to end the crisis has now resulted in an emergency situation throughout California. We hope senators will join us in taking action that will bring immediate relief and ultimately end this man-made crisis,” said Congressman Nunes.

Last week state Sen. Jean Fuller and Assemblywoman Shannon Grove praised Gov. Jerry Brown for his first step in addressing the draught. In response to the governor’s State of the State address, Grove noted that, “Our state’s chronic drought conditions should make the legislature realize that any long-term solutions we pursue must include developing more water storage and reworking our state’s burdensome environmental regulations.

“This drought is not just the result of a dry winter, but stems from liberal politicians and their friends in the ‘environmental’ lobby prioritizing every possible ‘endangered species’ except the people who live and work in this state, especially the farmers who feed our nation.”

Story First Published: 2014-01-29