Politics

Calif. Drought Results In Rotating Blame Game

Kerry Picket Political Reporter

WASHINGTON — Members of the California delegation on Capitol Hill are accusing one another for the drought problems in their state.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein says her constituents in Los Angeles are not conserving water enough and cutting their use to the required 25 percent.

“Well, San Francisco has met its 25 percent. That’s where I live. We’ve done a very good job in water conservation, Feinstein told The Daily Caller. “Los Angeles has to step up and do the same thing.”

California Republican congressman Devin Nunes, whose district includes the San Joaquin Valley contends that 25 percent allows for a much more comfortable living situation than those living in rural areas of the state.

“It is catastrophic in the San Joaquin Valley, but it will also become catastrophic for large population centers, but right now they are down to where they can water their grass twice a week and they had to cut their use to 25 percent,” he said. “That still allows your grass to be green and all of that. One more year [like the previous two] and nobody will have anything.”

Feinstein, like fellow California Sen. Barbara Boxer and California Gov. Jerry Brown, blames climate change, saying that the state has to “adapt to those changes and we have to see that we’re operating with maximum flexibility within the endangered species act within biological opinions.”

She added, “There’s no question about it. If you’re in the Central Valley, in a poor community that doesn’t have a water supply, of which there are some, you’re bathing out of water bottles and that’s just not right, so it’s a real problem and it’s not easy and there is a kind of lust for blame”

California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, whose district includes San Diego, blames all three Democrats along with the state legislature in Sacramento.

“Well, Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Boxer have been part of the problem for more than 20 years. It’s that simple. The people of San Francisco are happy to see water go into the ocean what crops aren’t produced. That’s a legacy of Senator Feinstein back when to she was mayor,” Issa told TheDC.

Feinstein suggests recycling water as a solution. “Orange County, for example, does it very well. Even sewage water, they recycle. We’ve got to look at desalination. There’s a whole multitude of things and it’s just not going to be business as usual,” she said.

To be sure, all the lawmakers are accusing wealthy Californians and each other of not feeling the heat enough. Issa, one of the richest members of Congress, lashed out at Boxer, another well-to-do member, for her long-time environmentalist friendly policies and comfortable life in Palm Springs. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a particular point of contention that has brought farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists to political and legal blows.

“Washington is not the solution. The problem is in Sacramento. The people in Sacramento need to change their leadership there before they can come to Washington,” Issa said, who notes that if his state really needs the federal government it should be done in the form of appropriate waivers, which he says, Gov. Brown has not asked for.

“The use of water and the transportation of water and the shortage of water is California’s challenge and they need to step up to it if we’re going to have 38 million people live in California,” Issa said.

“I think it’s time for people like Senator boxer to leave the state. She’s had to live in Palm Springs and use vast amounts of water talking about how people have to live within their means. The fact is California needs to stop rationing their way into prosperity. People are leaving California in droves. They’re leaving California in droves because of high taxes and an inability to get essential resources.” We lost Intel’s future investment into thousand two and 2003 because Gray Davis couldn’t keep the lights on.

Nunes says legislation in the last two Congresses were passed in the lower chamber to turn on reservoir water pumps and fix plumbing infrastructure that would allow for construction of water facilities.

“But it’s died in the Senate and Jerry Brown opposes the legislation we passed,” the congressman said. “They don’t have a solution of their own. there’s provisions we could put on to appropriations bill. There’s lots of things we can do. At every step we’ve taken, the Brown administration, Senator Boxer have opposed this.”

“We can’t get the Senate to support it, because unless you get both California Senators to agree, they won’t support anything and we can’t get it on to a final package. We negotiated for six or seven months with Senator Feinstein. We agreed upon just some band aid approaches so they were short term,” Nunes explained. “It wouldn’t fix the entire problem and allow a little more water to be pumped and Senator Boxer opposed it and then the Brown administration opposed it and we couldn’t get it on to any bills last year that were going to the president’s desk.”

Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee put it more bluntly. “Governor Brown makes lots of stupid decisions. That’s his right. They elected him. If you want stupid decisions, let them live with stupid decisions.”

Each California member and Brown says they support some kind of water storage solution during the wet years, but Nunes does not buy that Sacramento, Feinstein and Boxer really want to.

“They say that but they are not for building dams, because they’ve never really proposed one. The only people who have had a new damn built have been Los Angeles. They had one built in Temecula, where the population is and when the population is running out of water like the bulk of their voters they’ll build dams,” he said.

“But in the San Joaquin Valley we only have 3 million people which is a lot of people but compared to the state of 40 million they just ignore us because they want the land out of production.”