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Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chair, I thank the gentleman for yielding and thank him for reserving this time in opposition.
I think the gentleman from California has made the point very clearly, this amendment is seeking to play by a set of rules that is different than any other contractor in the State, and also makes a point very clearly that there is no intent here by any of the parties to curtail these contracts in any immediate time or suggest that they be abandoned or they be found invalid, not at all. It is just a question of whether or not the basis on which they were determined to go forward, that biological opinion, has turned out not to be valid. So they are simply asking for a re-review of these contracts.
What this amendment would say is that this group of contractors gets to play by a different set of rules than everybody else in the State. As we all know, those of us who are from California and many of our colleagues in Congress have learned over the years this is a very, very integrated system. It is a very complex system, and it has multiple claims on the water in the State, from farming, from technology, from communities, from manufacturing, from the chemistry, and from the environment, from recreational fishers, from commercial fishers, from an industry that is hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of employees.
The question is are these contracts valid in light of the biological opinions. To say that they have been assumed in the biological opinions doesn't say that they have been reviewed. So this is just a question on this amendment to this legislation as to whether these people can take themselves outside of the judicial review, take themselves outside of the environmental considerations, take themselves outside of the economic considerations that no other water district, no other contractor gets to do.
Certainly at a time when people are under such stress about the availability of water, it starts to look like a very special privilege to be able to be plucked out when everybody else is undergoing this kind of scrutiny, trying to figure out how we can make the most flexible system, a system that can respond to this very diverse California economy and to the needs of domestic households in a very serious drought and a drought that may continue in the years to come. Again, nobody has suggested that we abrogate these contracts simply to proceed under regular order.
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