Rep. Calvert: Appropriations Committee Democrats vote to protect fish instead of California jobs
From the website of Congressman Ken Calvert:
WASHINGTON, D.C. July 8, 2009 : Late last night during the Appropriations Committee mark up of the FY2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, Rep. Calvert (R-CA) introduced an amendment that would have ended the federally-imposed pumping restrictions on water project operations in the Bay-Delta.
“In the dark of the night, Democrats voted to kill my amendment and, more importantly, kill jobs in the state of California,” stated Rep. Calvert. “California’s water crisis has exacerbated unemployment throughout the state and the local emergency food banks are struggling to meet the demands of hungry families. Today, there is no evidence that the federally-imposed pumping restrictions have benefitted the delta smelt population. Yet, the negative economic impacts are undeniable. If this Congress is going to continue to give federal agencies the authority to take actions that kill jobs for the benefit of a species, then the American people at least deserve clear and undeniable evidence that those actions are in fact benefiting the species.”
Rep. Calvert called for a vote on the amendment which failed 25 to 33, with all but two Democrats voting against the amendment.
Earlier this year, Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for the entire state as severe drought conditions continue to exist on top of the federally-imposed pumping restrictions that have been placed on our state’s critical water infrastructure
In May 2007, Federal District Court Judge Oliver Wanger ruled in NRDC vs. Kempthorne that the U.S. Interior Department’s Biological Opinion on Delta smelt was “arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.” This eventually led to a revised Biological Opinion, which increased amounts of water are re-allocated towards Delta smelt during the exact times rural and urban water users need it most.
Just recently, the situation was exacerbated with the release of a new Biological Opinion in an attempt to protect salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon and even killer whales. The National Marine Fisheries Service issued the sweeping Biological Opinion, saying the species face dire environmental conditions unless irrigation from the federal Central Valley Project and the California State Project — already at historic lows — are curtailed even further. This new Biological Opinion will reduce Delta pumping by another 330,000 acre feet of water : this is on top of the water reductions included in the Delta-smelt Biological Opinion.
The results are devastating. A revised University of California-Davis study found that up to 80,000 San Joaquin Valley jobs will be lost by the end of 2009 and 500,000 acres of productive farm land will be fallowed because of water rationing — a direct result of these Biological Opinions. Statewide, the unemployment rate has risen to more than 11 percent. In some of agriculture dependent counties like Fresno, the unemployment rate has risen to more than 15%. Dayatra Latin, director of operations for the Community Food Bank in Fresno, said her organization feeds about 70,000 people a week 30,000 more than it served two years ago.
The amendment prevents the Bureau of Reclamation and any state agency from restricting operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project pursuant to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service December 15, 2008 Biological Opinion and the National Marine Fisheries Service June 4, 2009 Biological Opinion, if such restrictions would result in levels of export less than the historical maximum level of export.