Fight in Congress over drought aid is all wet
Even as Californians have done their collective part to conserve water during the drought, Congress is engaged in a water fight over reforming federal law to help us. For the five months through October, the state cut water use by 27.1 percent, above Gov. Jerry Brown’s 25 percent target.
In Congress, meanwhile, agreement on drought relief has been shelved for the rest of this year because of a feud between farm-area Republicans, led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, and the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Barbara Boxer, who is leaving office in a year, and Dianne Feinstein. The Republicans “had been in talks with Feinstein for months to meld two starkly different approaches to California’s water shortages,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle, before discussion dried up.
House Republicans today were set to hold a news conference to advance their side of the battle. We also hope some compromise can be reached early next year, complementing the $7 billion in water bonds state voters passed a year ago.
Democrats want more water for conservation and preserving endangered wildlife, Republicans seek more water for farms that have been hard hit by the drought. In their five-year bill, the California Emergency Drought Relief and Water Storage Act of 2015, we think the Republicans went far enough in accommodating Democratic demands, such as saving fish and assistance to communities hit by drought.
As Fox News reported in October, “Drought-stricken California farmers say environmental regulations barring them from irrigating their parched lands are making them the endangered species. With the drought in its fourth year, anger is building in Central California at state and federal agencies, who critics say are putting wildlife ahead of jobs, families and the food supply.”
This should be one of the top subjects of debate in the race to replace Sen. Boxer. The Democratic candidates, especially, need to advance more realistic solutions than she and Sen. Feinstein have produced despite months, even years, of working toward a compromise. Then let the parched voters, who have done their part to conserve, decide.