Friday, February 26, 2010

Dust Bowl Democrats


As you will recall, on February 11th the Dust Bowl Democrats public relations machine touted a new water amendment that would mandate 40% of normal deliveries to our region. Despite the fact that nobody was allowed to read the proposal, valley newspapers, Democrats and farm groups naively rallied to support it.

I have been heavily criticized for suggesting valley residents read and understand the Democrats’ proposal prior to endorsing it— particularly since many of our region’s “leaders” did not do so themselves. For my part, I was not willing to jump onto the Dust Bowl bandwagon for the sake of political expedience, good press or some misguided notion of bi-partisanship.

According to the authors of the plan, we would see action as part of a new jobs package. However, when the Senate passed its jobs bill earlier this week, no California water language was included. Instead, a meeting was held between Obama officials and Congressional Democrats, which resulted in a “promise” of more water. Sound familiar?

This miraculous change of heart on the part of Obama Administration is an acknowledgement that there is water available for valley farmers—even under the draconian Delta smelt biological opinion. This concession is an indictment of the Administration’s 2009 actions that resulted in food lines and economic devastation in communities throughout the San Joaquin valley.

I have been asked, “What does this change mean in real terms?” My answer is that thanks to the hard work of Congressional leaders, the federal government is now poised to provide a 5% water allocation to the San Joaquin Valley. That’s right, 5%. “We have come a long way,” says Senator Feinstein, because Obama Administration officials have promised to search high and low for more water.

San Joaquin Valley residents are again being sold short by Dust Bowl Democrats. This year, we have over 120% of average snowpack and some dams are preparing to spill water that cannot be stored. With these facts, will the Dust Bowl Democrats continue to blame drought as the cause of our problem? Or will they acknowledge that the government, working on behalf of radical environmentalists, caused the crisis? It is time to end San Joaquin valley water shortages. The quickest way to do this is to pass the Turn on the Pumps Act, just like Congress did for New Mexico in 2003.

In closing, I want to point out that I am not alone in my skepticism of the latest Obama Administration promises. One valley Democrat’s reaction was the statement “trust but verify.” Just as Reagan could not accept Soviet arms reduction promises without independent verification of actual disarmament activity, we cannot accept Obama Administration promises that “help is on the way” without proof through their actions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The California Water Reliability Act


Earlier today, I unveiled a new legislative package that will provide long-term water security to the people of California. The bill, titled the California Water Reliability Act, would immediately restore the flow of water to dry San Joaquin Valley communities. At the same time, it will provide the infrastructure needed to deliver long-term water reliability for rural, urban, and environmental purposes.

We need a sensible approach to water policy in California. Infrastructure built in the middle of the last century cannot meet our long-term needs – particularly when radicals in the environmental movement are demanding ever increasing amounts of water for their own misguided purposes.

When the state and federal water projects were built over 40 years ago, more than half of the water was dedicated to satisfying the needs of communities throughout California, including San Joaquin Valley farms. This water made it possible for the largely arid State of California to grow into an economic powerhouse and spurred the development of the world’s most diverse and abundant farming region.

Over time, lawsuits and the actions of liberal lawmakers in Congress have fundamentally changed the operation of California’s water projects by diverting large amounts of fresh water. This is most prominently exposed by the fact that more than 75% of the water that enters the Delta is now being wasted to the ocean in a vain effort to prop-up the faltering Delta ecosystem. The result of these changes is an artificial water shortage; one that I and others have labeled a government-imposed drought. It has also vastly magnified the impact of periodic dry conditions that are part of life in the Golden State.

At some point, families and California communities will have to become the priority of our government again. New dams, new canals, and a renewed commitment to serving the needs of the people are what we require. The California Water Reliability Act will deliver results while others continue to offer lip service.

The bill is both common sense and comprehensive. It will fast-track construction of a Delta bypass, as well as new surface water storage (including Temperance Flat) and a number of water circulation projects. In addition, the plan will rewrite the San Joaquin River Settlement to focus river restoration on a more financially feasible and environmentally sustainable warm water fishery. Finally, it will reform and improve the Central Valley Project Improvement Act to ensure the law attains measureable environmental goals.

We can and will have responsible environmental policies when the California Water Reliability Act becomes law. Radical environmentalists should never have been allowed to decide the terms under which water is allocated. Their record is clear. They take as much as they can get and come back for more. That’s why the San Joaquin River Settlement must be re-written – so that the eastside of the valley isn’t subjected to the same ongoing attack as farmers and communities on the Westside. And that’s why Delta pumping must be restored by Congress until new infrastructure is built to deliver the needed water around the Delta.

For more information on this issue and the California Water Reliability Act, please visit

Friday, February 12, 2010

Feinstein Water Proposal: Approach With Caution


I am sure you have seen press reports over the past two daysthat Senator Feinstein is proposing a New Mexico style fix to our watercrisis.  Please see the Fresno Bee story here for details.

Here's what occurred in New Mexico back in2003.  Radical environmentalists cut-offwater to the citizens of Albuquerque to save the Silvery Minnow (see mytestimony to the House Resources Committee last week here).  Congress, in abipartisan manner, quickly stepped in and provided a two-year fix to thesituation and restored water deliveries.

It must be noted that Senators Feinsteinand Boxer led the charge to defeat a proposal to provide such a fix for ourCentral Valley farmers just last year, despite the fact that theyboth supported the fix for New Mexico in 2003.  However, it wasn’t just theSenators who voted to kill such a proposal; the House Democrats also votedseveral times against a New Mexico style fix last year.

So until we see the proposal in legislative text andunderstand what it does, we should approach it with caution.

Farmers need to be careful and not blindly accept a deal. Don’t be the dog that has been starved and kicked by its owner for years onlyto lick their owners’ hand when a mere morsel is offered under the table. Senator Feinstein says San Joaquin Valley families will get 38-40% of theirwater with this proposal.  Is that a guarantee or a political talking point?

We have been guaranteed a lot from the Obama Administrationand Secretary Salazar over the past year and have gotten nothing in return.  Are they going to publicly support this proposal in writing, or leave uswith empty promises again?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m encouraged that the Democrats arefinally waking up to the problems in the San Joaquin Valley.  Yet, I must ask: What has changed?  Over the past twelve months, the Democrats have flatlyrejected a New Mexico style fix.  Then, suddenly, in an election year, theycome out of the woodwork to help.

So, is this an election year ploy to protect Democrats, orare they actually going to do something to protect the Valley?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

They Really Want the Pumps Shut Off


Yesterday, the Fish and Wildlife Service filed the required 48 hour notice of implementing the Delta smelt Biological Opinion.  They found two smelt entrained in the pumps which triggers the BiOp.  Therefore, the pumps will basically be shut down Wednesday at 5 pm.

Friday we get a two week TRO on the Killer Whale BiOp (some good news), then they smack us with the other hand and implement the Delta smelt BiOp.  If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would say that they magically found two smelt because a TRO was issued last week.  They really want the pumps shut off.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fish Screen Stimulus


Today, the House Resources Committee held another hearing on the California water crisis. Predictably, the Democratic leadership blocked consideration of any legislation that would actually make a difference.

However, the American people are finally seeing the fruits of many months of hard work on the part of Congressional Democrats. Pelosi and her team now plan to pass legislation that authorizes stimulus money to be used on fish screens (I’m not joking). Apparently, smelt, salmon and killer whales everywhere are celebrating Congress’ commitment to the environment. But food lines in the valley are getting longer.

My testimony and several other clips have been posted my YouTube Channel. Please click here to watch.

The hearing today came on the heels of another propaganda victory by radical environmentalists – this time in the Sacramento Bee. In a 2,500 word editorial, long by any editorial standard, a radical environmentalist associated with High Country News boldly attempted to re-write history. Using the regurgitated talking points of President Obama’s water czar David Hayes, the author sought to marginalize my effort to turn on the pumps.

Not content with misleading statements about the cause of our water shortages, the author goes further and attacked those of us working to restore the flow of water. He described me as a “hot head” for forcing votes on restoring the flow of water to San Joaquin Valley communities. I always thought a hot head was someone who was quick tempered and threatened to punch someone during a disagreement, which is what Senator Dianne Feinstein did just last year. But you wouldn’t know that reading the Bee because Feinstein is described as a champion for valley farmers.

That’s because the author and his friends don’t like to hear the plain spoken truth, particularly on the national airwaves, and instead prefer the well trained behavior exhibited by California’s Democratic Senators. Paul Rodriguez, Ray Appleton, Sean Hannity, Inga Barks, Chris Daniel and the “sign waving flag totting throngs” who listen to them are not important. We are viewed as the uneducated masses, a backwards group of people in need of enlightenment.

And maybe some “enlightenment” is needed. But not about the history of the Delta or the nature of Mother Earth. The readers of the Sacramento Bee need to be enlightened about the radical environmental movement. If you visit the High Country News website, you will discover that the author of the Bee editorial and his friends are part of the “Environmental Justice” movement – a group of radicals who want to protect Mother Earth by forcing everyone to live according to their bizarre formula of sustainability. This means, in part, that commercial agriculture as we know it today will have to be abandoned and regions like ours will not be farmed.

Misleading editorials like this one should come with disclaimers. Newspapers should be doing more to inform the public about what is really happening. We need to regain control of our government and we need the pumps turned back on.