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United defense key to Delta's future

In case you missed it! A great op-ed by Rep. McNerney and below an update on California drought bills by McClatchyDC. 

The Record 
Guest view: United defense key to Delta's future

By Rep. Jerry McNerney 
July 9, 2016
Read article at the original source

With more predictions of drought-like conditions for California in the near future, it is difficult to find workable solutions when some politicians mislead the public at a critical time for our state’s water supply.

It was especially alarming to hear that Donald Trump recently stood before a Central Valley audience to declare “there is no drought.” Such a display of ignorance by a presidential candidate is not only deeply disturbing, but it further inflames California water politics and undercuts efforts to find common ground to address this crisis.

Yet, it is difficult to write off Trump’s comments as just a candidate pandering on the stump when Republicans representing Central Valley communities agree that Trump is “100 percent right.”

These same Republicans have stopped at nothing to include their extreme drought bill, H.R. 2898, by Rep. Valadao, in other pieces of legislation. They attached the Valadao bill to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill this year, which I tried to strip out.

Fortunately, this legislation failed to pass the House. These members attached similar provisions to the House Energy bill, which is inappropriate and counterproductive. These desperate attempts reflect a backward policy of refusing to invest in sustainable water supplies unless they are able to drain the last of the Delta’s fresh water.

I am fortunate to represent the Delta, a unique and vital estuary and the heart of the state’s water system. This is why I am also concerned that the Delta delegation appears to be fractured. We have to be unified in fighting water policies that would damage the health of the Delta and the families, farmers, and economies it supports. The insertion of “operations” language designed to force an increase in Delta pumping, in any bill, including H.R. 5247, by my colleague Rep. John Garamendi, threatens to damage the Delta, harm commercial and recreational fishing, and hurt our region.

A thriving Delta benefits the entire West. That is why representatives from California, Oregon, and Washington have opposed recent drought bills that are bad for the Delta and the Pacific Coast salmon fishing industry. We cannot support legislation that disregards peer-reviewed science and threatens salmon, among other fish species. After three decades of over-pumping the Delta, every fishery in the region faces serious decline. As less water flows through the estuary, salinity moves further east into the Delta, harming wildlife, farming, and drinking water supplies for everyone in the state.

Many scientific organizations that have studied the issue agree that we must reduce dependence on the Delta and promote regional self-sufficiency. The estuary needs more water flowing through it to survive, not less. Prevailing science shows that to maintain a healthy river system, no more than 20 percent of its flows, on average, should be diverted.

According to the Bay Institute, earlier this year approximately two-thirds of storm runoff was captured or diverted, with only one-third of the runoff making it through the Delta estuary. And, for the period of Oct. 1 of last year to Jan. 31, 60 percent of storm runoff was diverted or stored. So, no, water is not being wasted. Water scarcity in California is caused by a longstanding and severe drought and the slow pace of investments in efficiency, water recycling and other supplies.

We cannot afford to waiver in our commitment to the Delta. Gambling with the health of the Delta region will jeopardize the economies and environment of California and other Western states. Now, more than ever, we must unite around smart action and investments that will strengthen our drought resiliency and create a sustainable water future

— Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, represents California District 9 in the House of Representatives.

California water-bill fight is percolating again on Capitol Hill

By Michael Doyle
[email protected]
July 8, 2016
Read article at the original source. 


California water will retake the Capitol Hill stage in coming days, with compromise nowhere in sight.

Deep into a largely arid legislative season, lawmakers will again reflect on the state’s drought as early as Monday and wrangle over efforts to address it. A hearing and one or two votes in the House of Representatives whose outcomes are effectively preordained will expose the divisions that endure.

“Things are on hold for the moment,” Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said Friday, adding that “I don’t think we’re going to see a compromise” for at least several months.

Underscoring the many complications entangling California water, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the Westlands Water District on Friday sued the federal Bureau of Reclamation over measures intended to protect endangered species.

House Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing an ambitious water package opposed by Northern California Democrats and the Obama administration. The package’s key elements include steering more water to San Joaquin Valley farms and authorizing several new storage facilities.

With negotiations seemingly stuck, if they are happening at all, GOP lawmakers are now taking a multipronged pressure approach that entails folding California water provisions into as many other legislative vehicles as possible.

The next one coming into play is a fiscal 2017 funding bill for the Interior Department, Forest Service and other agencies. The 184-page bill includes about 20 pages devoted to California water issues, including a yearlong freeze on spending for San Joaquin River restoration.

“In the context of how we’re going to get things done around here, I think it’s the best vehicle right now,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, who warned of the consequences for California “if we don’t take action on water storage, water supply and water handling.”

On Monday, the gatekeeping House Rules Committee is scheduled to set the crucial terms for debate on the $32 billion Interior funding bill. These rules include which of 159 proposed amendments will be permitted to get votes on the House floor.

One proposed amendment, by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, would eliminate the controversial California water provisions from the Interior bill. One of two fates awaits McNerney’s amendment in the short term, neither of them good for him.

The GOP leadership-controlled House Rules Committee, with Republicans enjoying a 9-4 advantage over Democrats, could simply block McNerney from offering his amendment.That would be one way to ensure that the water provisions, written by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, get through the House.

Even if McNerney does get the green light for a 20-minute debate and floor vote sometime next week, the amendment is certain to fail in the full House, where Republicans have a 247-187 partisan advantage.

“It shouldn’t be in the bill in the first place,” McNerney said Friday of the California water provisions, calling them a “poisonous rider” that is “going to ship water to interests south of the Delta.”

A fiscal 2017 energy and water spending bill and a stand-alone energy bill are other potential ways for the California water provisions to get before the House. Even if they pass, however, they’ll likely be subject to a conference committee that will be charged with reconciling differences between House and Senate legislation.

“They’re setting up a situation where these proposals could be put into must-pass legislation,” Garamendi said.

A House Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning on what’s billed as the “water supply uncertainty in California” will give lawmakers another chance to make their well-practiced points.

Michael Doyle: 202-383-6153@MichaelDoyle10

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