Senator Feinstein’s “Emergency Drought Relief Act” Overrides Critical Protections for California Fishing Communities

Senate Vote Threatens to Unravel Decades of Environmental Protections

SACRAMENTO (May 22, 2014) – Today, the U.S. Senate passed S. 2198 (Feinstein), drought legislation that overrides protections for salmon and steelhead in California’s Bay-Delta estuary. The bill will now be negotiated with the House of Representatives, which earlier this year voted to enact legislation (H.R. 3964) that would eviscerate federal protections for salmon and other endangered fisheries, the Bay-Delta estuary, and the San Joaquin River, while also preempting state law.  

Following is a statement from Doug Obegi, NRDC staff attorney:

“The drought legislation the Senate passed today is no solution to California’s water woes, and ensuing negotiations with the House could make it even worse. This shortsighted bill overrides protections for salmon and steelhead in the Bay-Delta and the thousands of fishing jobs that depend on them. Exacerbating the effects of the drought for Delta fisheries means that California will have to do even more to restore and protect water quality and supply from this crucial source.  

“Drought, not protections for endangered fisheries, is the primary cause of low water supplies across the state. We can’t make it rain, and rather than pursuing divisive measures that threaten the health of California’s Bay-Delta estuary and rivers, Congressional leaders should be pursuing real 21st century solutions that protect our environment and water supply. We already know these solutions work. In the past decade alone, we’ve created more than 2 million acre feet of new water per year for California’s cities and farms through water smart practices like increased efficiency, stormwater capture and recycling.”



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