Feinstein explains Calif. drought legislation
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., stayed off the Senate floor on Friday evening while her California Democratic colleague, Sen. Barbara Boxer, opposed a water resources bill. Boxer and senators from Washington and Oregon said the bill contains provisions to deal with the California drought that could damage the salmon industry and reduce the power of the Endangered Species Act.
Boxer, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, also said that the drought provision was the work of a single House member, which was a veiled reference to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
But on Saturday, Feinstein issued a statement explaining the bill, praising McCarthy for his role and said that she would monitor to the bill to see that is implemented in line with the Endangered Species Act.
Feinstein said, “This bill is the product of three years of effort, and is a compromise that I believe will truly help all of California. A state with 40 million people simply can’t rely on a water system put in place when we were 16 million people, and this bill is a big step in the right direction.
“The goal of the short-term provisions in the bill — which will sunset after five years — is to run California’s water system based on good science, not intuition,” she continued. “The provisions include daily monitoring of fish in turbid water, ending the winter storm payback requirement, requiring agencies to explain when they pump less than biological opinions allow, maximize water supplies consistent with law, a pilot project to see if the Delta Cross-Channel Gates can be opened for longer, extend the time period for voluntary water transfers, allow 1:1 transfer ratios in certain conditions and allow expedited reviews for projects to improve water quality.
“The long-term provisions are vital for California to not become a desert state. We absolutely must hold water from wet years for use in dry years, and this bill will help accomplish that by investing more than $500 million in projects. The bill directs $30 million to desalination projects, $150 million to water recycling and water conservation projects, $335 million to groundwater and surface storage projects and $43 million to projects that benefit fish and wildlife,” Feinstein added.
“I’d like to thank House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who negotiated this bill with me. Neither of us got all we wanted, but we were able to finalize a bill that will help California. And I would also like to thank Sen. Barbara Boxer, a tireless champion for the state who should be proud of all that she has accomplished. I also thank Congressman [Jim] Costa [D-Calif.] and Congressman [John] Garamendi [D-Calif.] for their tireless efforts along the way.”
She concluded, “I look forward to working with the agencies to ensure this bill is implemented in a manner consistent with the Endangered Species Act and relevant biological opinions, and to finally begin modernizing our aged water infrastructure.”
Feinstein also provided a summary of the legislation. (See link.)
–The Hagstrom Report
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In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the Agriculture Department this week announced that plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing.