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Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 5 minutes.

I really applaud my good friend, Doc Hastings, with some of the statistics that he was quoting about the farmers in the valley. There were misrepresentations, which were later clarified, of the actual figures that were affected and, unfortunately, they were very far apart, and that's just for the record. I will be glad to give them to anybody who wants them later.

H.R. 1387, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act is anything but. It repeals existing State law as written for the use of the water from the San Joaquin River in California's Central Valley. It reallocates water in a way that elevates agricultural uses above all other water needs--that's municipal, fisheries, and environmental uses.

This bill was mostly aimed at California; believe me, mostly California. If enacted, it would set precedent: an unprecedented standard of State preemption, environmental disregard, and privatization of a public resource for the benefit of a select view. It could be, in my estimation, renamed the Barrister Employment Act.

The California State legislature stated it best:

H.R. 1837 is almost breathtaking in its total disregard for equity and its willful subjugation of the State of California to the whims of Federal action.

May I point out that in the past my colleagues on the other side have asked for less intrusion of the Federal Government, less government control, let the locals handle it. This would do the reverse. It would put it in the hands of the Federal Government to be able to determine the State's right to enact its own water laws.

Despite amendments to the bill by the majority, it still seeks to make sweeping negative changes to the State's ability to manage water in the west.

It amends the State constitution, and undermines California's ability to manage its own resources.

It would repeal or overturn nearly 20 years of environmental protections under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, the CVPIA, and the Endangered Species Act, which is normally under attack by my friends on the other side.

It repeals the San Joaquin Restoration Settlement Act, a compromise widely supported by all stakeholders, and diminishes funds for restoration. It also completely eliminates the coequal goal of protecting the environment and allowing for water deliveries.

It puts jobs of fishermen at risk. The Pacific Fishery Management Council has raised concerns about the impacts on the fishery and fishing communities. The northwest fisheries were closed in 2008 and 2009 and parts of 2010. They had no fishing. The industry was lost to them.

The Subcommittee on Water and Power received over 34 letters with nearly 300 stakeholders opposing this legislation. They include the Western States Water Council; seven States--California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and Wyoming; the Department of the Interior; and a statement of administration policy. Also, the senior Senator and the junior Senator of California oppose this. And the list goes on: elected officials, environmental groups, State legislatures, attorneys general offices, Governors' offices, and letters from these different States, not to mention the nonpartisan, 18 Governor-appointed Western States Water Council.

The scope of harmful provisions included in this legislation is matched only by the number of necessary provisions left out. Also, the severity of this legislation, which benefits only a small group, not all of California.

Through a series of amendments, my colleagues seek to address the glaring issues associated with the legislation--the subsidies reform, construction of new facilities, and use of best available science.

Mr. Chairman, this is a bad bill, and I urge a ``no'' vote. I reserve the balance of my time.


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