WASHINGTON (July 16, 2015) – The House today passed a brazen anti-environment bill masquerading as a drought relief measure.
Following is a statement by Doug Obegi, a California-based senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“From Sacramento to Washington, there are many constructive proposals designed to ease the effects of the devastating California drought and better prepare for the next one. But the bill written by Rep. David Valadao (R-Ca.) is not among them.
“This legislation is a special-interest wish-list for agribusinesses that would gut protections for salmon and other endangered species, preempt state laws that protect fish and wildlife, and overturn the court-approved settlement to restore the San Joaquin River. It also threatens the health of California’s Bay-Delta estuary, the largest on the North American west coast – and the thousands of fishing jobs that depend on the estuary’s health. No wonder that commercial and sports fishing industries, conservation groups and the White House oppose it. So should the Senate. Instead, we must focus on genuine solutions – starting with a recognition that it’s the drought – not state or federal environmental laws – that is the overwhelming cause of lower water supplies in California."
California could be saving up to 14 million acre-feet of untapped water – providing more than the amount of water used in all of California’s cities in one year – with an aggressive statewide effort to use water-saving practices, reuse water, and capture lost stormwater, according to a report released last year by NRDC and the Pacific Institute. The Untapped Potential of California’s Water Supply is a first-of-its-kind statewide analysis examining the significant potential contributions achievable from a combination of improved efficiency in agricultural and urban water use, water reuse and recycling, and increased capturing of local rainwater. California is currently in the fourth year of an ongoing drought – the worst in more than 1,200 years.