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Public Statements

Conservation and Economic Growth Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DENHAM. First, let me thank the chairman for not only allowing all of these bills to come up, but doing it in a very transparent fashion, allowing debate from both sides of the aisle and amendments from both sides of the aisle. This truly has been a transparent debate, giving the American public a chance to see exactly what we are doing here.

But let me talk about this unimaginable place that some of the extremists like to talk about. The unimaginable place I'm talking about is California's Central Valley, where you have twice the national average of unemployment, where some areas of the district are 30 to 40 percent unemployment. That's truly un-American, when you have a solution for Republicans and Democrats to come together, and yet you have some extremists who are willing to ignore putting people back to work. It is an unimaginable place, but one that both parties should take note of it, one that the President should not only take note of, but the President should actually come out and visit. Now the President likes to come to L.A. and San Francisco quite frequently. He's been there over a dozen times, but yet not once when Republicans and Democrats have invited him to come to the Central Valley and see the devastation, see the unimaginable place that this high unemployment leaves our community in. That's why you've got both Republicans and Democrats coming together and supporting this bill in a bipartisan fashion.

When the Merced Wild and Scenic River was designated, it encroached nearly half a mile into an Federal Energy Regulatory Commission operational boundary for New Exchequer Dam. Aligning the Merced Wild and Scenic River boundary with the standing FERC project boundary will allow FERC to considered MID's proposal to raise their spillway gates by just 10 feet. We're talking about 70,000 acre feet of water that'll create 840 jobs. Now, this is not the 5 to 6 million acre feet that we need, but it's a small step. But if the extremists cannot even support this small step where you've got Valley Republicans and Democrats coming together, the question is, what really is this unimaginable, un-American place that they talk about? We need thousands of jobs in the Central Valley. We need many more projects like this. We need Los Vaqueros, Exchequer. We need Temperance Flat. We need to raise Shasta in a fashion that Republicans and Democrats continue to agree on.

While some say that this will set a precedent for undoing Wild and Scenic designations, this area being discussed naturally--naturally--floods already, and it will impact less than 1 mile of the 122.5 miles of the Merced River. Again this is one small project. One desperately needed project, but one very small project in this unimaginable place.

Title I of H.R. 2578 is commonsense legislation that will allow for desperately needed storage; again, up to 70,000 acre feet, which has the potential for generation of an additional 10,000 megawatt hours of clean, renewable electricity. Why wouldn't we want clean, renewable electricity? Hydro is not necessarily the clean energy they like to talk about.


Mr. DENHAM. This will also create increased recreational activity in the area and agricultural benefits.

Furthermore, if a Wild and Scenic River designation is made by congressional or administrative action, we should be able to adjust those boundaries, especially if it serves the greater good. Again, this is not the greater good that some like to talk about because they're not focused on American jobs. They're focused on a small set of criteria that they don't understand in our agricultural areas.

To not adjust the boundary because it has never been done before is an inadequate justification. Again, this is a bipartisan bill that has support on both sides of the aisle from Members of the Central Valley, and one that was open for public debate, was open for amendments. And again, I'd like to thank the chairman for having such a transparent process. I encourage Member support of H.R. 2578.


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