House Republicans Prove States’ Rights only Apply to Red States in California Drought Bill

by Joan McCarter –

california_drought

The House approved a California “drought relief” bill, 245-176. Republicans say that the intent is “to confront California’s four-year-long drought and an attempt to fight back at Democratic policies that the GOP says prioritize fish over humans.” The intent also was to undermine the state’s own management of the crisis, something that would be all but unthinkable with a red state. The LA Times editorial board blasted the legislation before it passed, saying that it “offers little in the way of actual drought relief and even in years of abundant supply would serve Central Valley agricultural interests with new taxpayer-financed dams.”

The legislation would undermine not just California’s management of the crisis, but existing environmental laws that protect fisheries that are an economic component for the rest of the Pacific Northwest.

One particularly controversial segment would alter how the Environmental Protection Agency determines whether certain species of fish are in need of protection under the Endangered Species Act, potentially freeing up some water used to protect fish.Valadao accused opponents of prioritizing “an extreme environmental agenda that places the needs of fish over the needs of people.”

Environmental groups argued the bill substitutes politics for science and risks harming endangered species.

“This legislation is a special-interest wish list for agribusinesses that would gut protections for salmon and other endangered species, preempt state laws that protect fish and wildlife, and overturn the court-approved settlement to restore the San Joaquin River,” said Doug Obegi, a California-based senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement.

President Obama has said he would veto the legislation, and neither of California’s senators support it. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has offered her own proposal that included some of the House bill’s provisions, but she “cannot support the bill as passed” because it “would violate environmental law.” The bill in this form will not pass the Senate, which means that the House has wasted another several days—while looking at just a handful of working days left before August recess—on hyper-partisan legislation that won’t become law. Again.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

 

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