Destructive Drought Bill May Pass – Call Senator Boxer ASAP!

  • Published on December 11th, 2015

By Dan Bacher

Senator Dianne Feinstein appears ready to sign off on HR 2898, after negotiations with Central Valley House Congressmen that want to over-pump the San Francisco Bay-Delta, according to an action alert from Restore the Delta (RTD).drought_by-phylomon

“Californians have not seen the federal drought bill,” said RTD. “We need to make sure it does not harm our Delta estuary, which is on the verge of collapse in this extreme drought. Senator Barbara Boxer says she will NOT sign off on any bill that weaken existing federal protections. Call Senator Boxer ASAP.”

Senator Barbara Boxer: (202) 224-3553 Click to Tweet our message to @SenatorBoxer

Tell this to Senator Boxer: Senator Boxer, you promised us an open and transparent process in drought bill (HR 2898) negotiations. Northern Californians haven’t seen the drought bill, now in it’s final stages, and we haven’t been given the opportunity to comment on it yet. It’s our region that will take the environmental and economic impact of this bill. Please slow down the bill process, do not allow passage of this drought bill that has not been vetted in the light of day. We have a right to know how HR 2898 will impact the estuary, the fisheries, our farms, our home, and the source of our livelihood — fresh water flows. 

Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein released this statement:

“The bill that Republicans tried to place in the omnibus last week—in my name and without my knowledge—hadn’t been reviewed by me, Senator Boxer, the state or the White House. Each of those parties is key to coming up with a bill that can actually be signed into law.

“There were at least a half-dozen items in the bill that I had rejected and that would have drawn objections from state or federal agencies—some of them would likely violate environmental law. Several more provisions were still being negotiated and hadn’t been reviewed by state or federal stakeholders.

We’ve worked hard all week to resolve these outstanding provisions, and I believe we’ve come to closure on virtually all of them. I expect that by early next week we’ll have a bill that the state and federal government can sign off on. At that point I plan to present the bill to Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell and discuss the best way to move the bill forward through regular order.”

In response, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta,  issued the following statement:

“Senators Feinstein and Boxer promised the people of California a drought bill that would be transparent. They promised us no secret negotiations. Senator Feinstein is assuring the public that she has worked out a good compromise with Valley Republican Congressional leaders who are seeking more and more exported water from the Bay-Delta estuary during this extreme drought. However, we, the public, have not seen what has been negotiated. Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer need to keep their word. The Bay-Delta estuary is on the verge of complete collapse as a result of over pumping as we enter the fifth year of drought. The people who live here will be greatly impacted with environmental and economic impacts it the estuary collapses. We have a right to know how this legislation will impact the estuary, the fisheries, our farms, our home, and the source of our livelihood — fresh water flows.”

Need a refresher on HR 2898? See this Mercury News editorial, “Drought relief held hostage to trashing the Delta” about HR 2898. Mercury News wrote, “Central Valley Republicans want to strip out essential environmental protections for the Delta to quench Big Ag’s thirst for more water for questionable orchard crops such as almonds and pistachios.”

While Governor Jerry Brown has mandated that California urban users slash their water use by 25 percent, agribusiness has actually planted 150,000 NEW acres of almond trees during the drought. For more information, go to: www.eastbayexpress.com/…

(Image by phylomon)

About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.