Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) voted against H.R. 1837, a Republican water bill which would override California's state water rights, undo water settlements that were decades in the making, and roll back environmental protections in order to give powerful agricultural interests in the Central Valley a greater share of California's water. The bill ultimately passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 246 to 175.
"We need a solution that includes all of our water users, not a plan created in Washington behind closed doors," Napolitano said. "Congress should not overturn state law to privilege some water users over others. If enacted into law, this radical legislation would hurt California's economy, damage our environment, and set a dangerous precedent of Congress imposing mandates onto the water supplies of the states. California is the one on the chopping block this time, but other states will soon feel the ramifications of this water grab if it is allowed to become law."
The bill, authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and co-sponsored by Republican Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), would undo a settlement reached by the State of California, cities, fishermen, farmers and other users of water from the San Joaquin River that was decades in the making. The bill would instead overturn state law to deliver a larger share of water to agricultural users in the Central Valley.
In recent weeks, the States of Colorado, Oregon, and Wyoming, the Attorney Generals of Montana and New Mexico, the Colorado River Commission of Nevada, the Western States Water Council, and the Obama Administration have all opposed the bill for the way it violates 100 years of states' water rights and threatens water agreements across the west.
Before the vote, Napolitano and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee, released a report entitled "Cutting Off the Headwaters", which describes in detail how this bill would impact California's environment, economy, and water settlements.