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E&E News - Calif. Dems. Meet with Jewell on Delta Tunnels

News Article

Location: Washington, DC

By Debra Kahn

House Democrats bitterly opposed to a state-federal plan to build tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell yesterday to air their concerns.

Reps. Jerry McNerney, George Miller, Mike Thompson, Doris Matsui, John Garamendi, Ami Bera, Jared Huffman and Barbara Lee, all Democrats from Northern California, told Jewell they felt delta-region communities have been shut out of the decisionmaking process known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

The plan, spanning a 50-year period, would entail building two 35-mile tunnels to transport water from the delta to communities and farms farther south while avoiding further harm to threatened species of fish and other wildlife within the delta.

Lawmakers said they appreciated the meeting and hoped there would be more to come.

"We reiterated our primary points including that the state, in partnership with the federal government, is on the verge of recommending a plan for California's water future that does nothing to solve our state's water problems," Matsui said in a statement. "It's important that Secretary Jewell understands the negative ramifications of the BDCP on those who live and work in northern California."

State and federal officials are working on environmental impact reports to comply with endangered species laws; they are due out in October. Interior officials have signaled their support for the BDCP, most recently last month at the release of a draft cost-benefit analysis of the plan (Greenwire, May 30).

"Secretary Jewell listened very carefully to us and our view of the BDCP," Garamendi said. "She said she is learning the issues."

Interior officials did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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