Bill eliminates safeguards for salmon while siphoning water to small group of commercial farms
Washington, DC — By a vote of 245-176, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation today that dramatically undermines key environmental protections for fish and wildlife in California and threatens thousands of West Coast fishing jobs that depend on the health of these species. Introduced by David Valadao (R-Hanford) as a “drought-relief” bill, H.R. 2898 weakens and overrides protections for the salmon and other native fish of the Bay-Delta estuary, places waivers or limits on the environmental review of new dams and other water projects, and repeals the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, a hard-fought, landmark agreement between environmental and fishing groups, Central Valley farmers, and the state and federal government to restore California’s second longest river.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice Legislative Counsel Marjorie Mulhall: “Rep. Valadao’s bill benefits the few, namely corporate farms, at the expense of water users throughout the state and the health of the environment. The economy in California especially is dependent on the environment. As California and other parts of the West continue to suffer through a sustained, historic drought we need smarter solutions – not a bill cooked up in closed door meetings that picks winners and losers.”
Stories of stakeholders around California who would be left high and dry by water grab bills like H.R. 2898 are available at earthjustice.org/drought.
ONLINE VERSION: http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2015/house-passes-bill-that-would-unravel-environmental-protections-in-drought-stricken-california
Defenders of Wildlife: Devastating and Reckless Drought Bill Passes through House
Latest drought legislation is water grab and environmental attack
SACRAMENTO-- Today the House passed a cynically named “drought relief” bill that will have devastating impacts on imperiled wildlife while failing to offer long-term solutions to the mega-drought in California. The bill, introduced by Rep. Valadao (R-CA) undermines endangered species protections and state and federal environmental laws in a supposed effort to make more non-existent water available.
The following is a statement from Kim Delfino, Director of California Programs, Defenders of Wildlife:
“It is really disturbing that members of the House could not see through the two-faced nature of this bill that absurdly blames our four-year drought on imperiled wildlife and wetlands protections. Rep. Valadao has said that he wants to see the Endangered Species Act repealed and this bill just uses the drought as an excuse to dramatically weaken the law that protects our nation’s wildlife.
“Our elected representatives need to focus on implementing long-term, sustainable solutions to the ongoing drought in California, not ill-advised water grabs that only further devastate our natural resources.
“We hope that when the Senate takes up this bill they will see how ridiculous it is to steal water from struggling populations of wildlife and people, only to divert it elsewhere. Instead they should look to legislation like Rep. Jared Huffman’s, which focuses on innovative technologies to increase water supply reliability without leaving our fish, birds, wildlife refuges and wetlands high and dry.”