Novato, CA, May 13, 2011 -- In his most outrageous performance yet, Congressman Devin Nunes, the southern San Joaquin Valley Republican lawmaker who accuses environmentalists of being Communists and attacks water officials who negotiate environmental agreements as sell-outs, has introduced a new bill that would eliminate or weaken most protections for the collapsing Bay-Delta ecosystem.
HR 1837, the San Joaquin Valley Reliability Act, introduced on May 11, would completely upend the existing system of environmental safeguards and water rights law. The bill, co-sponsored by Representatives Jeff Denham and Kevin McCarthy, proposes to:
- Shield federal and state contractors who export water from the Delta from any requirements to protect endangered species that are stronger than the Bay-Delta Accord of 1994, which was negotiated before the population collapse of Bay-Delta fisheries beginning in 2000 that led to the adoption of stronger new protections for chinook salmon, delta smelt, and other species. HR 1837 would jettison these protections, override numerous state and federal environmental laws, shift the burden for protecting the Delta environment and water quality from junior export contractors to more senior water rights holders, and pull the rug out from current efforts to develop a comprehensive ecosystem and water supply solution for the Delta.
- Repeal the historic agreement to restore fisheries and flows to the dewatered San Joaquin River below Friant Dam. HR 1837 would substitute a “restoration” program to release a mere trickle of water – a tiny fraction of what is needed to bring back the river’s once great salmon run – and prohibit the state of California from adopting its own restoration requirements.
- Gut key provisions of federal water reform law – the Central Valley Project Improvement Act – by blocking the Act’s most significant reform, the allocation of 800,000 acre-feet of project supply to ecosystem restoration, unless a substitute supply is provided to contractors by 2016; removing the requirement to use tiered pricing to promote conservation; and putting constraints on the use of the Restoration Fund created to support salmon restoration and other projects.
“If enacted, HR 1837 would have us tackling the looming extinction crisis for the Bay-Delta with little more than a band aid and a get well card,” said Gary Bobker, program director at The Bay Institute. “Californians deserve better from their elected officials than recipes for undoing a generation of environmental reforms.”
“California continues to face statewide water challenges, but the solution has never been to arbitrarily waive all federal laws, nor is the solution to ignore decades of science,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein in a statement issued by her office in response to the introduction of HR 1837.
What you can do:
Urge your Congressional representative to oppose HR 1837 as a reckless assault on state and federal water reforms and enviornmental protections that stand between the Bay-Delta system and the irrevocable loss of its species and habitats.
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