Reps. McNerney, Garamendi, DeSaulnier & Huffman Urge California State Legislature to Cancel WaterFix Hearing
Washington, DC – Today, California Congressmen Jerry McNerney (CA-09), John Garamendi (CA-03), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Jared Huffman (CA-02) sent a letter to members of the California State Legislature, urging the cancellation of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s informational hearing on the Department of Water Resources’ proposed contract extension and amendments – which includes provisions to push forward with the controversial California WaterFix project.
In their letter, the Congressmen argue that the Committee lacks sufficient information to make such a costly decision, citing the pending legal decision in the Department of Water Resources (DWR) validation action. They write:
“As Californians and Members of Congress, we are writing to request that the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (“Committee”) hearing, which was originally scheduled for August 30th and postponed until September 11th, be canceled pending a ruling by the Sacramento County Superior Court on the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) validation action for the California WaterFix project. In its validation action, DWR is asking the court to affirm that it has the legal authority to issue bonds to pay for the $17 billion twin tunnel project.”
By holding this hearing – which is scheduled for September 11th at 10 AM – the Committee would take the first step towards extending the State Water Project (SWP) contracts through 2085, folding in the WaterFix proposal as part of the long-ago approved SWP.
“This is a backroom tactic to force through Governor Brown’s controversial and wildly unpopular twin tunnels proposal,” said Congressman McNerney. “Californians have already made it known that they do not want this project to move forward, but the state legislature is determined to push this through, despite lacking essential information regarding the validity of DWR’s claim. This short-sighted water grab would saddle Californians with billions of dollars of debt for generations, and holding this hearing would prevent further input from the state legislature or the public.”
“The Budget Committee doesn’t have any reason to renew the State Water Project contract right now, except to try to allow cheaper financing for an exorbitant project that doesn’t even have the authority to receive any yet. That’s putting the cart before the horse,” said Congressman Garamendi. “The disastrous Twin Tunnels project is the death knell for the Delta, and the Budget Committee shouldn’t be helping it at all. But if they’re going to, the least it can do is wait until the courts can validate its authority to issue bonds in the first place.”
“Tomorrow’s hearing is not in the best interest of California taxpayers. Any action by the Committee without resolution on the validation action is premature and presumptuous. Anything else is both financially and environmentally irresponsible, just like the WaterFix project itself,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.
“Holding a hearing on the controversial Waterfix proposal is part of a deliberate attempt to approve financing for the project before its full cost and impact can be evaluated by the public,” said Congressman Huffman. “From the get go, the tunnels plan was a grossly oversized, overreaching proposal that would cost too much, violate state and federal law, and threaten to do great harm to Northern California’s fishing and farming industries, as well as to tribal communities. Now, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee is trying to jam this project through without even obtaining legal authority to issue bonds to pay for the tunnels. This project needs a reality check and the Committee should cancel this hearing until the courts have affirmed its legality.”
The letter was sent to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee Chair, Senator Holly Mitchell, and Vice Chair, Assemblymember Phil Ting, as well as California Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and all members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
The full letter can be read here.
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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.