HR 2898, an agribusiness-backed “drought relief” bill that would strip environmental protections for Central Valley salmon and steelhead and Delta smelt, is back for the third time, according to an action alert from Restore the Delta (RTD).
Senator Dianne Feinstein appears ready to sign off on HR 2898, after negotiations with San Joaquin Valley House Congressmen who want to over pump the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary. the group said Friday.
“Californians have not seen the federal drought bill,” said RTD. “We need to make sure it does not harm our Delta estuary, which is on the verge of collapse in this extreme drought. Senator Barbara Boxer says she will NOT sign off on any bill that weaken existing federal protections.”
RTD urges people to call Senator Boxer ASAP at (202) 224-3553.
Tell this to Senator Boxer: “Senator Boxer, you promised us an open and transparent process in drought bill (HR 2898) negotiations. Northern Californians haven’t seen the drought bill, now in it’s final stages, and we haven’t been given the opportunity to comment on it yet. It’s our region that will take the environmental and economic impact of this bill. Please slow down the bill process, do not allow passage of this drought bill that has not been vetted in the light of day. We have a right to know how HR 2898 will impact the estuary, the fisheries, our farms, our home, and the source of our livelihood — fresh water flows.”
On December 11, Senator Dianne Feinstein released this statement that shows her apparent willingness to sign off on the bill.
“We’ve worked hard all week to resolve these outstanding provisions, and I believe we’ve come to closure on virtually all of them. I expect that by early next week we’ll have a bill that the state and federal government can sign off on. At that point I plan to present the bill to Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell and discuss the best way to move the bill forward through regular order.”
In response, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, issued the following statement:
“Senators Feinstein and Boxer promised the people of California a drought bill that would be transparent. They promised us no secret negotiations. Senator Feinstein is assuring the public that she has worked out a good compromise with Valley Republican Congressional leaders who are seeking more and more exported water from the Bay-Delta estuary during this extreme drought. However, we, the public, have not seen what has been negotiated. Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer need to keep their word. The Bay-Delta estuary is on the verge of complete collapse as a result of over pumping as we enter the fifth year of drought. The people who live here will be greatly impacted with environmental and economic impacts it the estuary collapses.”
On December 14, RTD reported that Senator Feinstein is “holding the line on Endangered Species Protections for Delta, but is looking to allow more water pumping during periods of more rain, even though we are in the fifth year of drought and the estuary is dying from 30 years of over pumping.”
“We cannot save the SF Bay-Delta estuary by delivering more water during drought to Westlands Water District. If Feinstein’s new bill allow exporters to turn up the pumps, the Delta will die in the 5th drought year,” RTD noted.
Call Senator Feinstein’s office (202) 224-3841, and tell her staff: “I appreciate that Senator Feinstein is holding the line on the Endangered Species protections for the Delta, but I expect better. If the new drought bill allows more pumping, the Delta will die in the 5th year of drought.”
An editorial in the San Jose Mercury News on December 2, “Drought relief held hostage to trashing the Delta,” slammed HR 2898.
The San Jose Mercury News wrote, “Central Valley Republicans want to strip out essential environmental protections for the Delta to quench Big Ag’s thirst for more water for questionable orchard crops such as almonds and pistachios.” (http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_29192771/mercury-news-editorial-drought-relief-held-hostage-trashing)
While Governor Jerry Brown has mandated that California urban users slash their water use by 25 percent, agribusiness has actually planted 150,000 NEW acres of almond trees during the drought. Meanwhile, the Governor has promoted the expansion of fracking in California, which uses water from the federal and state projects. In turn, the fracking wastewater has been documented to contaminate drinking water and irrigation water supplies in Kern County and elsewhere.
The Brown administration has also allowed the privatization of water during the drought by Nestle, Crystal Geyser, Walmart and other water bottling companies, who drain water from aquifers and rivers to sell back to the public in plastic bottles at an enormous profit.
Section 202 of SB 1894 would mandate killing of non-native fish!
Fishing groups are opposing an alarming provision in Feinstein’s SB 1894, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015. It is not known at this time whether or not this provision is included in the amended bill.
“Included in the bill is an alarming mandate that requires the eradication of the so-called ‘invasive’ striped bass, largemouth, smallmouth, crappie and catfish from the Sacramento Delta,” said Mike Everts, recreational angler. “This provision, if enacted, would also drastically affect the already dramatically declining numbers of striped bass in the San Francisco Bay.”
“This requirement to eradicate striped bass, largemouth, smallmouth, crappie from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in SB 1894, section 202, MUST be removed,” he stated.
These species are being made the scapegoats for the demise of Central Valley salmon and Delta smelt when in fact the state and federal export pumping facilities in the South Delta pumps are the largest non-discriminate predator in the estuary, according to Everts.
Everts is urging everybody concerned about the fisheries of the S.F.Bay-Delta Estuary to sign the petition posted on www.change.org by Bobby Barrack, fishing guide, and join the fight HERE: https://www.change.org/p/senator-anthony-cannella-diane-feinstein-jeff-denham-jerry-mcnerney-barbara-boxer-david-valadao-anna-eshoo-eric-swalwell-sam-farr-darrell-issa-ling-ling-chang-michael-millican-mac-mccut-stop-bill-s1894-killing-sport-fish-from-california-delta-striped
“Purposely hidden in section 202 of the 147 page bill is the mandate for the eradication of ‘non native species’ in the delta and its tributaries to include largemouth, smallmouth, striped bass, crappie and catfish,” according to the petition.. “The inclusion of these species in this bill MUST be removed. They are being made the scapegoats for the demise of the salmon and Delta Smelt when in fact the pumps are the largest non discriminate predator in the Delta.”