House GOP Drought-Relief Bill Ignores Immigration and Population Growth

Leon's picture

By Leon Kolankiewicz

Leon is an Advisory Board Member and Senior Writing Fellow with CAPS. A wildlife biologist, and environmental scientist and planner, Leon is the author of Where Salmon Come to Die: An Autumn on Alaska's Raincoast, the essay “Overpopulation versus Biodiversity” in Environment and Society: A Reader and was a contributing writer to Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation.

In a career that spans three decades, three countries and more than 30 states, Leon has managed environmental impact statements for many federal agencies on projects ranging from dams and reservoirs to coal-fired power plants, power lines, flood control projects, road expansions, management of Civil War battlefields, NASA's Kennedy Space Center operations and a proposed uranium mine on a national forest. He also has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop comprehensive conservation plans at more than 40 national wildlife refuges from the Caribbean to Alaska.

The writer's views are his own.

July 28, 2015

In late June, California Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a 170-page so-called drought-relief bill that they claimed would pump more water to besieged farmers in the Central Valley without abandoning safeguards for endangered fish in the Sacramento Delta.

This stopgap measure, like virtually every dubious “solution” advanced with such fanfare by both mainstream political parties, utterly ignores the underlying mass immigration and massive population growth that are exacerbating the effects of the drought in California. Every new California resident needs water not just to drink, shower and wash away waste, but to provide every product from pecans and petroleum to iPads and iPods.

Dead grove of almond trees in the Central Valley –
more casualties of the drought.

The bill, which the Los Angeles Times reports will probably never reach President Barack Obama for signature in its present form, nonetheless lays out the GOP’s position in the acrimonious debate over how the federal government should tackle the four-year drought ravaging California.

House Republican sponsors – including Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) – say their bill would force federal regulators to use “more modern science” when carrying out policies designed to replenish endangered fish stocks in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Valadao released a statement that reads:

Inaction will result in the collapse of our domestic food supply. Congress cannot make it rain but we can enact policies that expand our water infrastructure, allow for more water conveyance, and utilize legitimate science to ensure a reliable water supply for farmers and families.

For their part, environmental groups and Democrats charge that the bill would damage the environment and sack protections for endangered species. President Obama will not sign it unless it is backed by Governor Brown, which he is not inclined to do.

“I’m disappointed to see that this is the same old frontal assault on fish and the environment," Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) was quoted in the LA Times. "They’re trying to congressionally micro-manage the most complex water system in the world.”

Politics and Earth
Republican and Democratic politicians are blind
to what is staring them in the face.

House Democrats, in the meantime, have proposed several bills that stress water conservation and would spend up to $2 billion in the next few years on projects ranging from desalinization to incentives for water-efficient products and research, but these are unlikely to pass the GOP-controlled House, which has criticized these measures as costly and inadequate.

The long-running political stalemate on California’s precious water resource continues.

And so both parties continue to dither and fiddle while Rome (California) burns. Neither is willing to acknowledge overpopulation as a problem and population stabilization as part of the solution. Both are blind.

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