Smelling a rat in Feinstein’s water bill

Is the Delta going to be victimized by drought-stricken farmers from down south and their representatives?

House Republicans sure gave it a go. Now Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) has released her own  drought relief bill. And Northern California lawmakers appear alarmed.

“While the plan put forward today is a huge improvement from the disingenuous and deeply flawed legislation pushed through the House of Representatives last week by Rep. Valadao, we can still do much better,” reads a diplomatic statement issued today by Northern California Representatives George Miller (CA-11), Mike Thompson (CA-5), Doris Matsui (CA-6), John Garamendi (CA-3), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), and Anna Eshoo (CA-18).

“Particularly troubling in the new Senate bill are aspects that threaten the Northern California environment, economy, and may override protections for critically endangered species like salmon. We appreciate the Senators’ efforts to address the many problems intensified by the drought in California and the West Coast, and we look forward to working with them to change their legislation in such a way to protect the interests of all California stakeholders.”

Emphasis mine. Politically, Feinstein guards her right flank by representing the interests of Big Ag. Her bill touts “policies that do not pit stakeholders against one another, which history has shown only leads to costly litigation that benefits no one and prevents any real solutions.”

But then the bill says, “In response to the declaration of a state of drought emergency by the Governor of the State, the Secretaries shall provide the maximum quantity of water supplies possible to Central Valley Project …”

“… The Delta Cross Channel Gates shall remain open to the greatest extent possible … pursuant to the California State Water Resources Control Board’s Order Approving a Temporary Urgency Change in License and Permit Terms in Response to Drought Conditions … “

Translation: weaken Delta protections. It is good that Northern California’s representatives are watchdogging this bill. Stay tuned.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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