Despite the fact that California's ongoing drought, not environmental protections, is the cause of low water supplies for farms, cities, and the environment, some in Congress are seeking to use the drought to weaken state and federal environmental protections for California's rivers, the Bay-Delta estuary, and our native fisheries and the thousands of fishing jobs that depend on them. Today, Members of the House of Representatives will introduce legislation that would overturn protections for California salmon and other native species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), limit the public's rights to be informed about the impacts of harmful new dams under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and preempt state laws that require restoration of the San Joaquin River.
Like zombies in a b-grade horror film, this new proposal is simply a repackaging of destructive legislative ideas that have repeatedly died, rejected by the State of California, the State's senators, the majority of the State's House delegation, sport and commercial fishermen, Tribes, conservation groups, Delta farmers, water districts, and other stakeholders and editorial boards across the state. Instead of repackaging these failed anti-environmental ideas, Congress should be focused on real, 21st century solutions that can help farms, cities, and fish and wildlife weather this drought and be better prepared for the next one -- such increased water supply from sustainable solutions like improved water use efficiency on farms and around the home, implementing water recycling, improving groundwater cleanup and management, as well as temporary funding for farmworkers and others displaced by drought, including funding for projects to ensure safe drinking water for communities whose wells have run dry due to drought and unsustainable groundwater pumping.
Drought, not state and federal environmental laws, are the cause of low water supplies for farms, cities, fish and wildlife, and waiving state and federal environmental laws won't make it rain.
Below are links to more information about prior Congressional efforts to weaken these environmental laws under the guise of drought relief. In the coming days and weeks this blog will be updated with letters, fact sheets, and editorials opposing this newly introduced legislation in the House of Representatives.
Opposition to Anti-Environmental Water Legislation from Prior Years
Opposition to H.R. 5781 of 2014:
- Dec. 5, 2014 White House Statement of Administrative Policy Opposing H.R. 5781
- Dec. 9, 2014 Letter from the State of California opposing H.R. 5781
- Dec. 6, 2014 Letter from the Pacific Fishery Management Council opposing H.R. 5781
- Dec. 8, 2014 Letter from the American Sportfishing Association opposing H.R. 5781
- Dec. 5, 2014 Letter from Conservation and Fishing Groups opposing H.R. 5781
- Fact sheet on the impacts of H.R. 5781 on California's native fish and wildlife
For more information on opposition to H.R. 3964 (2014), visit: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/doug-obegi/state-california-and-stakeholders-oppose-hr-3964
For more information on opposition to H.R. 1837 (2011-2012), visit: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/doug-obegi/continuing-opposition-hr-1837