I read with great interest an article by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes about the real cause of the water shortages in California.
In the summer of 2002, shortly before I was elected to Congress, I sat through an eye-opening meeting with representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council… they told me something astonishing:
Their goal was to remove 1.3 million acres of farmland from production. They showed me maps that laid out their whole plan: From Merced all the way down to Bakersfield, and on the entire west side of the Valley as well as part of the east side, productive agriculture would end and the land would return to some ideal state of nature.
… large Democratic majorities in Congress passed [a water restriction act] in 1992… [Bush #1 was President in 1992] The act stipulated that 800,000 acre-feet of water — or 260 billion gallons — on the Valley’s west side had to be diverted annually to environmental causes, with an additional 400,000 acre-feet later being diverted annually to wildlife refuges.
Lawsuits filed by the NRDC and similar organizations forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to issue, respectively, biological opinions on smelt (in 2008) and on salmon (in 2009). These opinions virtually ended operation of the Jones and Banks pumping plants — the two major pumping stations that move San Joaquin River Delta water — and resulted in massive diversions of water for environmental purposes.
… on average, due to environmental regulations as well as a lack of water storage capacity (attributable, in large part, to activist groups’ opposition to new storage projects), 70% of the water that enters the Delta is simply flushed into the ocean. California’s water infrastructure was designed to withstand five years of drought, so the current crisis, which began about three years ago, should not be a crisis at all. During those three years, the state has flushed more than 2 million acre-feet of water — or 652 billion gallons — into the ocean due to the aforementioned biological opinions, which have prevented the irrigation infrastructure from operating at full capacity.
So in other words, there is plenty of water available, but more than 200 billion acre-feet a year is simply discarded to favor the fish.
Because the environmentalists need enemies, they perpetuate a lie that farmers use 80% of the state’s water, but:
This statistic, widely parroted by the media and some politicians, is a gross distortion. Of the water that is captured for use, farmers get 40%, cities get 10% and a full 50% goes to environmental purposes
Read the LA Slimes, as Mark Levin calls it, or any other major newspaper covering this crisis, and you will read about evil homeowners who water their lawns, or farmers taking water for their own evil purposes (creating food and keeping people employed). You will read almost nowhere that this crisis was caused by the environmentalists. It is well-known that they have blocked the construction of new dams and water transmission facilities, but beyond that, we are literally flushing water into the sea to protect a bunch of insignificant fish.
I say insignificant because, in my view, compared to the livelihoods of human beings, fish are insignificant. Unfortunately, this is not the view held by those in power, or by most of their silent Republican co-conspirators. Rep. Nunes has spoken out, but most other Republicans keep silent, for fear of being painted as “against the environment.” They completely fail to see the opportunity of being painted “pro-people.”