Coalition of House Democrats from Three States Issue Statement on Garamendi Drought Companion Bill
Washington, D.C. – House Democrats from California, Oregon, and Washington issued the following joint statement in response to Rep. John Garamendi (CA-03) introducing companion legislation to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s drought bill that was heard in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, Water and Power Subcommittee today. The House members included in this joint statement are: Reps. Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Michael M. Honda (CA-17), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Jim McDermott (WA-07), and Kurt Schrader (OR-05).
“Members from the California, Oregon, and Washington delegations have concerns about any legislative proposals that would harm the water quality and supply of our states, disadvantage our local farmers and fishermen, or violate tribal trust responsibilities. While we are pleased that the Garamendi bill includes language from bills that we have offered, the price our states and ecosystems may pay in exchange for longer-term provisions within the proposed legislation is too high. This legislation’s modification of environmental laws not only sets a troubling precedent, but also pressures federal and state agencies to increase diversions from an increasingly damaged ecosystem that is close to a devastating collapse.
“Furthermore, House Republicans have indicated that they are looking to conference the Senate version of this bill with Representative Valadao’s H.R. 2898 – a piece of legislation that we overwhelmingly oppose. Any legislation that emerges from a conference would not be acceptable to many of the diverse stakeholders in our home states.
“We understand the immense pressure that severe drought conditions place on water allocations. That is why we have put forth and advocated for policy alternatives that promote greater regional resiliency and more efficient management of our water supply. We remain committed to working together to advance policies that will move us toward a sustainable water future and build the regional self-sufficiency this drought and future droughts require.”
The following are statements from individual House Members and Delegations:
“My district contains a majority of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the heart of California’s water system. I remain deeply concerned with any legislation, including H.R. 5247, that tries to dictate California water policy, especially when it will have detrimental effects on our environment by diverting more water away from the families, farmers, and economies of the Delta. This could also set a dangerous precedent for how we manage our water supply for years to come. I’m committed to working with all stakeholders throughout the state and Congress to build drought resiliency and self-sufficiency in regions across the Nation. This can be achieved by making smart investments in innovative and efficient strategies that will create more water and a sustainable water future for us all,” said Congressman McNerney.
“While I appreciate the work of my colleague Congressman John Garamendi, I remain concerned that this legislation continues to micromanage operations in the Bay-Delta to the detriment of fisheries and ecosystems. Sadly, based on the past actions of House Republicans to insert their radical rider into last year’s appropriations bill, I fear this bill too will be hijacked and used to push for more extreme water legislation that will harm California communities and jobs that depend on healthy fisheries,” said Congressman Huffman. “I cannot in good faith cosponsor a bill that will be twisted and distorted in this political process to harm my constituents. I will continue to work with Congressman Garamendi, Senators Feinstein and Boxer, and the rest of my colleagues to promote new investments in water infrastructure and modernize outdated systems, wherever possible, to find a common ground and real solutions.”
“We cannot set the needs of one Californian against another in our efforts to find a solution to the state’s drought crisis,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “Sacramento sits at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, which are directly impacted by Delta operations. I have concerns that the legislation as proposed will negatively impact our region’s economy, drinking water supply, and ecosystem. As our discussions continue, I will do everything I can to address California’s immediate and long term water infrastructure needs, while balancing that goal against Northern California’s needs.”
“No part of our state has been immune to the devastating impacts of the drought. Communities have seen their resources stretched thin and ecosystems have been pushed to the edge,” said Congressman Thompson. “This bill is not the solution. Without appropriations from Congress, local communities will never see the infrastructure investments promised in this proposal. In effect, we will be left with a bill that is dangerous and shortsighted. It will undermine water managers’ ability to balance needs across regions, and jeopardize the long-term stability of the Delta. Now is not the time to bend the rules that protect our state’s water system. Instead, Congress should get serious about effective, long-term solutions to the ongoing drought.”
“This bill will have serious implications for the thousands of coastal families whose livelihoods depend on the ocean and waterways of Oregon. We support commonsense solutions to deal with the effects of California’s drought, but not if they come at the expense of Oregon’s fishing industry. Our fisheries and coastal communities cannot afford another setback,” said Oregon Representatives DeFazio, Blumenauer, Bonamici, and Schrader.
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.