California may be experiencing the worst drought in its history, but, the resultant water crisis is entirely man-made according to Congressman and House Whip Kevin McCarthy (R- Bakersfield). So he said in a press release that included his testimony that led to the passage of an emergency water bill in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday.
H.R. 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, would relax environmental regulations in order to transfer more water to agricultural and other interests in the San Joaquin Valley. The bill is a response to recent news that California will not release any water this spring to local water agencies because of the severity of the drought.
The bill was sponsored by California's David Valadao (R-CA 21), who represents Kings County and portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties, including parts of Bakersfield. McCarthy and several other California representatives co-sponsored the bill, which passed mostly along party lines, 229 - 191. It next faces an uncertain future in the Democrat controlled Senate and a possible veto by President Obama if it gets to his desk.
Referring to Aesop's fable about the ant and the grasshopper, McCarthy blamed government regulations for wasting fresh water by discharging it into the ocean instead of storing that water and distributing it to people who need it.
"Environmentalists have decided that fish are more important than those who are unemployed. That maybe they come before the individual," McCarthy said in his testimony. He added that the bill, "puts families before fish. It goes back to an agreement that everybody agreed upon. And it moves us to a place where we can prepare."
Not everyone was in agreement with the proposal, seen by many as a political ploy and possible water grab that would result in a water war between Northern and Southern Californians. California Governor Jerry Brown referred to the bill as an "unwelcome and divisive intrusion" that would "override state laws and protections, and mandate that certain water interests come out ahead of others. It falsely suggests the promise of water relief when that is simply not possible given the scarcity of water supplies."
Others were even more critical of the bill, including Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield,CA), who said in a press release, “Today feels like groundhog day. Once again, the House of Representatives is wasting time on a bill that validates water theft. It rips up California water contracts and state law. If enacted, this extreme bill would cause an ecological disaster for the San Francisco Bay and an economic crisis for California."
He added, “This drought is caused by nature – something so painfully obvious, it can be seen from space. Despite the availability of federal assistance, the entire Central Valley – Sacramento and San Joaquin – is suffering. We must find ways to add to our water supply instead of taking water from one group to another for political gain."
Of interest in the above positions, once again, is the absence of climate change in the discussion. Although no one has been able to specifically pinpoint climate change as the cause of California's current drought, more frequent, lengthy, and intense droughts have been predicted by climate change experts.