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Congressman Jerry McNerney

Representing the 9th District of California

California and Oregon House Democrats Send Letter to Sens. Feinstein, Boxer on Damaging GOP Water Bill

Jul 23, 2015
Press Release

Washington – Yesterday, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) led his California and Oregon House Democrat colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer opposing H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015. The signatories include 19 California representatives – half of the California House Democratic Delegation – and three Oregon representatives, all who voted against H.R. 2898 last week.

The signatories expressed their commitment to working with the Senators on federal drought legislation that does not negatively impact the economies, farmers, communities, and environments of California, Oregon, and other western States. H.R. 2898 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Full text of the letter:

July 22, 2015

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein                                                The Honorable Barbara Boxer

United States Senate                                                                 United States Senate

331 Hart Senate Office Building                                                112 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510                                                            Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Feinstein and Boxer:

We are writing to express our concerns with H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, which passed the House last week. This bill does nothing to solve California’s water crisis or address the drought impacting Oregon and states throughout the West. Instead, H.R. 2898 preempts state laws, reduces management flexibility, eliminates protections for salmon and other endangered species, and rolls back our nation’s fundamental environmental laws. 

The State of California opposes federal legislation that would “weaken state and federal environmental protections, pre-empt state law and favor one region or economic sector of the state over another,” which is exactly what this bill does. Moreover, this proposal would not support the State’s groundbreaking work to address the drought through water conservation programs, infrastructure improvements, and innovative water recycling initiatives.

We are pleased that state and federal agencies have been making great progress by working proactively and collaboratively. These agencies should retain the statutory flexibility to best manage our water supply rather than the prescriptive language proposed in H.R. 2898. In fact, the Department of Interior agrees that this bill is the wrong course of action because it would, “impede an effective and timely response to the continuing drought while providing no additional water to hard hit communities.”

Further, this bill preempts state law, including California’s long-standing system of water rights, overriding the regulations that Californians themselves have devised to administer the state’s complex water supply system. An expansion of federal management over the world’s most complicated water structure sets a bad precedent for states across the country.

H.R. 2898 also reaches into other Western states, including Oregon. By weakening protections for fish in California’s Bay-Delta, this bill has potential far-reaching and damaging impacts on Oregon’s fishing industry, wildlife, and related economy. On multiple occasions, Senators and House Members of the Oregon delegation have written to you expressing parallel concerns with similar short-sighted legislation, H.R. 5781, that passed the House in the 113th Congress.

We also note that opposition to this legislation includes other key stakeholders such as commercial and sport fishermen, Native American tribes, environmental groups, and recreational employers.  The Obama Administration also issued a veto threat against this bill because of its potential to undermine environmental laws.

Responsible solutions to the West’s short and long-term water shortages require input from all stakeholders without prioritizing sectors of the economy or geographic region at the expense of others. This historic drought demands serious compromise involving all affected parties and we appreciate the leadership you have shown for this crisis thus far. We remain committed to working with you on federal drought legislation that does not negatively impact the economies, farmers, communities, and environments of California, Oregon, and other Western states.

Sincerely,

_____________________________                          _____________________________             

JERRY MCNERNEY                                                  JARED HUFFMAN   

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress                                                  

_____________________________                          _____________________________

PETER DEFAZIO                                                       MARK DESAULNIER

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress                                                         

_____________________________                          _____________________________             

SUSAN DAVIS                                                          ERIC SWALWELL

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

_____________________________                          _____________________________ 

EARL BLUMENAUER                                               MIKE THOMPSON

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress                                   

_____________________________                          _____________________________ 

TED LIEU                                                                   ZOE LOFGREN

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress   

_____________________________                          _____________________________             

LOIS CAPPS                                                              MIKE HONDA

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress                                     

_____________________________                          _____________________________             

BARBARA LEE                                                          ANNA ESHOO

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress   

_____________________________                          _____________________________             

DORIS O. MATSUI                                                    JOHN GARAMENDI

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress                                     

_____________________________                          _____________________________             

SUZANNE BONAMICI                                             JACKIE SPEIER

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress   

____________________________                          _____________________________             

ADAM SCHIFF                                                          SCOTT PETERS

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress   

_____________________________                          _____________________________             

SAM FARR                                                                MARK TAKANO

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress   

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Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.