"The truth is, she's won. There isn't any need to go forward with the legislation, which could be hijacked by some of our House colleagues and create bigger problems."
May 22, 2014
"The real danger I and others see moving forward is that this opens the door to a conference committee with a truly terrible piece of legislation in the House and that can only lead to a worse situation." - Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.
"The truth is, she's won. There isn't any need to go forward with the legislation, which could be hijacked by some of our House colleagues and create bigger problems." - Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena
Environmentalists "have never been helpful to me in producing good water policy." Senator Dianne Feinstein...wink, wink, nod.
Dianne Feinstein says she's doing everything she can to get water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. Rep. Mike Thompson says "the truth is, she's already won." Do you feel like a winner?
Thompson goes on to say, "so one could argue, as many of us did, that she ought to declare victory and not worry about the bill, but she's interested in seeing it through." Is Thompson telling us the real truth. We already won. Nothing's all there is to get.
From where we sit, we got a lot of talk about flexibility, but no water. Dianne blames it on the environmentalists. A few weeks ago she blamed Republicans for their lack of support, then she even blamed Democrats. This is not about solving the problem, it's about who to blame.
We all watched as water flowed through the Delta to the Pacific, and as Friant water literally went down the river. We asked: where is Dianne? When the water ran out, Dianne showed up.
Dianne introduced her senate drought bill and said we needed it to pass to go to conference committee to compromise with the Valadao Republican bill passed in the House. Jared Huffman joins Congressman John Garamendi in putting the truth to this deception when he says, "the real danger I and others see moving forward is that this opens the door to a conference committee with a truly terrible piece of legislation in the House and that can only lead to a worse situation." How many Democrats have to tell us they don't want to go to conference committee before be finally believe them?
Nevertheless some on our side have been sucked into this false narative sending out statemenets supporting the passage of Dianne's bill, thinking they are getting something done. So, now we divvy up the few drops that are left. And this article will be used by many on 'our side' to defend her. They'll say, "what's she to do? It's not her fault."
We say she's only had 20-years, and every year we get less water. How many more years does she need?
Washington -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein will try to fast-track farm-friendly drought legislation through the Senate over the objections of environmentalists, who the senator complains have done nothing to help her adapt California's aging water system to deal with climate change and the addition of millions of thirsty residents.
Environmentalists "have never been helpful to me in producing good water policy," the California Democrat said. "You can't have a water infrastructure for 16 million people and say, 'Oh, it's fine for 38 million people,' when we're losing the Sierra Nevada snowpack.' "
Asked about opposition from environmental groups, Feinstein said, "Well, that's really too bad, isn't it? I would be very happy to know what they propose. ... I have not had a single constructive view from environmentalists of how to provide water when there is no snowpack."
Feinstein's bill, SB2198, co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would ease restrictions on water exports from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta to farms and cities.
Feinstein said her intention is to take legislation into conference with the House, where Republicans passed a bill in February to waive environmental laws protecting endangered fish to get more water to farms.
Feinstein's bill - and her effort to fast-track it through the Senate - alarm both environmentalists and Bay Area House Democrats, who fear she would tilt California water policy away from the state's devastated salmon runs.
They said Feinstein has already achieved her goals through political pressure on state water agencies, which have maximized pumping within the limits of the law to free up water for people and crops during the drought.
"The truth is, she's won," said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena. "There isn't any need to go forward with the legislation, which could be hijacked by some of our House colleagues and create bigger problems."
Most of what Feinstein's bill adds in flexibility to move water from rivers to other uses has "been done administratively, because of her involvement and her legislation," Thompson said. "So one could argue, as many of us did, that she ought to declare victory and not worry about the bill, but she's interested in seeing it through."
Seven California House Democrats met privately with Feinstein last week, including Thompson. Most said they were heartened by her effort to address their concerns, but remain opposed to her bill.
"The real danger I and others see moving forward is that this opens the door to a conference committee with a truly terrible piece of legislation in the House and that can only lead to a worse situation," said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.
Bob Wright, a lawyer with Friends of the River, an environmental group, accused Feinstein of exploiting the drought to "cater to the wishes of powerful growers in Westlands and Kern County water districts."
Feinstein conceded that parts of her bill have already been executed by administrative action, but said others haven't. She said her bill would not usurp any environmental laws.
She said her bill is intended to "maximize pumping" within the confines of endangered species protections "for the length of the emergency. And I suspect the emergency is going to go on some time."
Her bill would remain in effect until Gov. Jerry Brown lifts the emergency drought declaration he imposed in January. The declaration permits water agencies to relax certain environmental rules temporarily to ensure water supplies for human use.
One of the Feinstein provisions that most concerns critics would lock in complete diversion of the San Joaquin River for as long as the drought lasts. Such diversions are already allowed during "critical dry years."
Under current law, if more rains arrive next year, river flows must be increased. But under Feinstein's bill, the total diversion would be locked in place.
"It's either naivete and lack of understanding" of what is already in the law, Rosenfield said, "or opportunism to lock in low levels of protection even if water supplies increase next year."
He disputed Feinstein's charge that environmentalists have not worked to provide more water for all parties in the state. "We've all spent vast amounts of time and resources to design a plan to upgrade California's water infrastructure and increase water supply and reliability," Rosenfield said.
Feinstein's bill has been stuck in the Senate since February, and she needs the assent of all 100 senators to get to a quick vote. She plans to use what is called a hotline procedure next week to determine exactly who is blocking the bill.
"We will find out who the holdouts are," she said.
Get the 10 most recent items from our RSS feed.