It looks like the special election earthquake that shook FL-13, sending Republican David Jolly to Washington D.C., may be being felt in other ways in the land of real earthquakes — California.
I recently covered the severe drought that is impacting the Golden State, which is leading Governor Jerry Brown to contemplate new, conservation-based rules that will lead to more penalties, fees, and bureaucrats (nothing that will actually solve the problem).
However, one of our senators is rethinking legislation that has actually cut-off the flow of water to taxpayers. And even more shocking — a fairly progressive newspaper editorial board is also reconsidering the fish-friendly rules.
Crises commonly produce compromise. That seems to be happening in the U.S. Congress with solutions to California’s drought. In particular, Sen. Dianne Feinstein appears to be moving away from her San Joaquin River Restoration Act of 2009, which was a response to a 2006 court decision and gave priority to salmon runs over water for farming.
A March 10 editorial in the Fresno Bee paraphrased her comments to the paper’s editorial board:
“It is time, in light of climate change, Feinstein said, to ‘reassess’ the $2 billion plan that would revive salmon runs on the San Joaquin by rebuilding the 153-mile stretch between Friant Dam and where the Merced River empties into the San Joaquin.
“This is significant because Feinstein has been a strong river restoration advocate. She, along with former Rep. George Radanovich, was a key figure in pushing negotiators forward in the 2006 settlement of a long and bitter federal lawsuit filed by environmentalists over river diversions to farmers.”
And with Fresno in the heart of California’s farming country, the Bee’s editorial board also has been persuaded to change its stance.
The Central Valley water woes have been a focus of citizen activism since the Tea Party started in 2009. In discussing how state farmers were fighting to prevent Dustbowl II, I recounted the realities of the regulatory eco-activism that cut off water to direct it to the Feinstein’s salmon runs:
Todd Allen, a Central Valley farmer recently interviewed on the Jon and Ken Show on AM 640, shared his experiences… After investing much capital in irrigation equipment, he received “0” percent of his annual water allotment in January….and February…..and March. After three months of bone-dry conditions, only 40 acres of the 300 acres of wheat he planted survived. The sole reason he managed to save the 40 acres was that he managed to water the section before the tap was shut off.
Congressman Tom McClintock from California’s 4th district summarized the travails of the Central Valley in 2010:
What has happened between 2010 and 2014 that has inspired Senator Feinstein to reconsider the value of the “San Joaquin River Restoration Act” like she is apparently doing for the CIA’s policies on spying?
President Obama toured the drought area. And the November election, with Democrats worried about losing House seats from California, approaches ever nearer. Indeed, just yesterday Democrats’ plight became more critical as Republicans won an election for an open House seat in Florida.
So it’s not surprising that Feinstein and other Democrats want to advance compromise solutions to the drought that put them in good light with farm voters.
In fact, our Central Valley is becoming quite the battleground for Washington’s politicos. Speaker of the House John Boehner recently toured the area and caused palpitations about California eco-activists and legislators by supporting congressional proposals to stop river restoration in favor of drought relief.
Based on these developments, my forecast for Democrats this November is doom with a chance of gloom.