Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Turn on the Pumps Act

Afterreceiving news from California that the State Water Project allocationfor 2010 would be the lowest in history, a mere 5%, I began circulating a discharge petition for my bill, "The Turn onthe Pumps Act" (H.R.3105). The legislation would restore the flow ofwater in California by waiving the Endangered Species Act (ESA)provisions responsible for Delta pumping restrictions. A dischargepetition requires 218 signatures and would move my bill out of the House Committee on Natural Resources to the House Floor for debate. If enacted, "The Turn onthe Pumps Act" would immediately restore the flow of water to dryCalifornia communities. 

I have fought for nearly two years to gain passage of a temporaryESA waiver that would restore the flow of water to San Joaquin Valleycommunities while California’s long-term water supply challenges areaddressed. My proposal to help the people of the San Joaquin Valley,as well as Southern California residents, is virtually identical tolegislation that passed Congress without controversy in 2003.

Theaction by Congress in 2003 was bipartisan and swift. Water supplies inNew Mexico were threatened due to ESA rules related to the silveryminnow – a three inch bait fish. In order to protect the water supplyof Albuquerque, as well as other communities dependent on the RioGrande River, a temporary ESA waiver was enacted.

Currentwater shortages in California, including the announcement of a 5%allocation for 2010, are the direct result of ESA protections relatedto the Delta smelt – a three inch bait fish. Federal and state pumpingfrom the Delta have been severely restricted thanks to the flawedimplementation of the ESA. This has resulted in the transformation ofour nation’s most fertile farmland into desert and driven unemploymentto historic levels.

Overthe past several years, we have witnessed the hypocrisy ofCongressional leaders, including the Speaker, California’s senators andother senior Democrats, who supported the 2003 New Mexico language butrefuse to do the same for their own constituents. The dischargepetition I am circulating will highlight our supporters and expose ouropponents. It will clearly show who in the House favors fish overfamilies.