STOCKTON, CA, Dec. 16, 2016 – Today, President Obama signed the Water Resources Development Act. This law will fund dozens of new, and necessary, water infrastructure projects around the nation including funds to help install safe water pipelines in Flint, Michigan.
The bill generated great controversy last week when it was hijacked by Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who added a last-minute, special-interest “rider” to the bill at the request of agricultural interests in the San Joaquin Valley.
The offense to Northern California and Oregon fishing communities was summed up well in today’s editorial in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
“…Sen. Dianne Feinstein has cut a deal with Congressional Republicans on legislation that will take much-needed water from Northern California’s fragile waterways — and its vulnerable fish — and hand it over to farmers and businesses in the Central Valley.”
This last minute rider was a shock to the retiring Senator Barbara Boxer and she spoke out against it on the Senate floor last week. Boxer called the rider a “devastating maneuver” and a “poison pill” designed to undermine the Endangered Species Act by changing restrictions on the amount and time that water could be delivered to the agricultural districts in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. Federal biologists had set delta flows to protect endangered and threatened fish species who have suffered devastating losses during the state’s prolonged drought.
Boxer spoke of the process, and why the American people “hate Congress” these days. “One of the things they hate about Congress is when we have a special interest rider dropped on a bill,” Senator Boxer said in her speech on the Senate Floor on December 9, 2016.
In a letter asking President Obama to veto the bill, Restore the Delta executive director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said of the rider, “It will worsen water quality not only for San Francisco Bay-Delta fisheries, but for the hundreds of thousands of people who make up the Delta’s environmental justice communities.” She also warned that the rider “…will lead to further water quality degradation in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, and set the course for future raids by Federal agencies on freshwater supplies from the Delta.”
Resources bill opens new front in long-running water wars (Greenwire – DC)