Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Honesty is needed in water debate, not intimidation

Last week, I worked with Senator Jim DeMint (South Carolina) to move an amendment that would have temporarily restored water deliveries in California. The Senate defeated the effort with California’s Senators leading the opposition. Since that time, there has been a lot of discussion about the vote – including a dishonest campaign that must be challenged.

Firstly, the notion that the DeMint amendment was tantamount to Pearl Harbor – that it was a sneak attack – is pure fiction. Senator DeMint approached Senator Feinstein at 12:20 pm on the day in question and provided her the language of his amendment (see video). This gave Feinstein and her advisors approximately six hours to read the amendment’s ten lines of text before the vote.

Secondly, it is not possible for anyone who claims to be involved in California water policy to be ignorant as to the needs of our rural communities and farms. Put simply, they need water. This requires a temporary restoration of normal pumping operations so that water can be delivered when it is needed. I have been calling for action in this regard for two years, have participated in numerous debates, and forced votes in the House on seven occasions.

Furthermore, organizations associated with agriculture from throughout California have pressed for immediate relief from the man-made drought. They have done so publically and they have done so privately with their Congressional delegation. These requests have been reported by the national media – including an hour long broadcast on the Hannity program.

Yet, despite these facts the Senator and her allies are today exerting pressure on California agriculture interests. Instead of working to provide California immediate relief, the Senator is trying to convince the people of our state that we need more studies and deliberation. Unfortunately, in the past “study” has been code for inaction or worse – additional water takings.