H.R. 1837, the deceptively-named “San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act,” passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives on Leap Day 2012 with a floor vote of 246 to 175.
H.R. 1837 was supported by some Valley Democratic congressional representatives and by a small army of California Republican representatives in lock-step behind Devin Nunes, Tom McClintock, and Jeff Denham, who continue to blame endangered species protections for job losses that industrial agriculture brought on itself. Particularly disappointing has been Congressman Jeff Denham’s lead on H.R. 1837 because he has been well briefed on the water needs of Delta family farmers and the importance of the Delta economy to the state.
It is the introduction of state and federal project water from Northern California that enabled south valley and westside landowners over the last 50 years to put vast amounts of arid acreage into production; to bring in scores of low-wage, seasonal farm workers who have not been able to transition fully into California’s middle class economy; and in many cases to move away themselves to manage their agricultural empires from the air-conditioned comfort of luxury offices in the Bay Area or Southern California. Export water, more than any other factor, has created the San Joaquin Valley’s long-term unemployment problems, as it has built an unsustainable corporate agribusiness economy.
It is the false assurances of continued project water that emboldened these corporate agribusiness types to plant permanent crops, the kind that can’t be sustained in drought years without ultimately destroying Northern California farming and fisheries.
To hear Nunes and company tell it, this is all about food security for California and the nation. It’s actually more of a “China and India Almond Reliability Act.”
The thing that is really hard to figure – the thing that makes this whole effort seem so cynical – is why so many political conservatives would back a bill that gives the federal government more power in California, allowing it to supercede California water rights law. We expect conservatives to vote for the protection of state rights. Ironically, some of them are probably taking political cover behind Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who have affirmed they will resist the measure vigorously in the U.S. Senate.
For a refresher on what’s wrong with H.R. 1837, see this opposition letter signed by Restore the Delta and regional supporters.
Click here to see the letter on the subject from Congressman Jerry McNerney, with its attached list of organizations that came forward to oppose H.R. 1837. We also note that Congressman Jerry McNerney, Congressman John Garamendi, Congressman Mike Thompson, and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano were true champions during the floor vote, fighting to protect the public trust and state water right laws.
Click here to see a list of supporters of H.R. 1837.
When this measure gets to the Senate floor, it would be good to have a really comprehensive list of opponents: all the family farms, commercial and recreational fishing businesses, canneries, wineries, marinas, boat clubs, farm equipment suppliers, engineering firms, cities, counties, social service agencies, and water districts in the Delta and Northern California who stand to suffer if H.R. 1837 becomes law. Opponents should include anyone in California who thinks that federal interference in our water management challenges is a bad thing.
To add your name to the list of opponents, contact Jessica Iniguez at [email protected]. Send her an email that simply says in the subject line, I/We oppose H.R. 1837. In the body of the email tell us who you are and if you represent and organization/business/group/club.