House Republicans reopen the bidding on CA water bill

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 4:13 AM

The provisions, including a freeze on an ambitious San Joaquin River restoration program and mandated pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, are presently folded into a Fiscal two thousand seventeen .

House Republicans reopen the bidding on CA water bill

House Republicans intent on storing more CA water and redirecting it to farms have resurrected some familiar and controversial ideas, this time as portion of a must-pass spending bill.

The provisions, including a freeze on an ambitious San Joaquin River restoration program and mandated pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, are presently folded into a Fiscal two thousand seventeen . It’s a new tactical move, designed for leverage.

“Once passed by the House, (this) offers the Senate another chance to consider this necessary legislation,” House Majority Boss Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said Tuesday, adding that “our senators failed to meet the moment” in previous sessions.

The provisions included in the 82-page energy and water bill are a familiar wish list, largely reflecting previous CA water legislative packages that have failed to clear Congress over the past four years. There are some differences, though.

Previous bills, for instance, would've ended the San Joaquin River salmon and habitat restoration program altogether and replaced it with something smaller. The new language, reflecting the limits of an annual appropriations bill, would simply obstruct spending for the following fiscal year.

In a similar vein, directed sale of the New Melones Dam to local water districts. The new speech is less ambitious, directing the federal Bureau of Reclamation to work with local water districts to expand New Melones storage opportunities.

“Congress cannot create it rain but we can enact policies that widen our water infrastructure, authorize for more water conveyance, and utilize legitimate science to ensure a dependable water supply for farmers and families,” California’s House Republicans said in a joint statement.

The package unveiled Tuesday is all-but certain to pass the Republican-controlled House, as have previous . Miserable over provisions that comprise the mandatory Delta pumping for the benefit of San Joaquin Valley farms, Northern CA Democrats will be opposing the measure.

“It’s inexcusable that today some of my colleagues introduced provisions that do nothing to actually address the water shortage, but instead just pits one area of the state against others,” Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, said Tuesday.

The bigger test will arrive in the Senate, where Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has joined Republicans in calling for more Delta pumping but has also negotiated for continued environmental protections. Feinstein’s CA colleague, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, has repeatedly voiced concerns about the GOP approach, as has the Obama administration.

Feinstein said Tuesday she hopes to comprise 0 million for drought relief in the Senate’s version of the energy and water appropriations bill set for subcommittee markup Wednesday. In theory, this will set the stage for a House and Senate conference later this year to iron out differences.

Separately, Feinstein said she hopes to move a stand-alone drought bill that'd ease limits on water transfers S of the Delta, but not mandate specific pumping levels. Boxers hasn't taken a position on the bill, which also would compel completion of feasibility studies for storage project.

“My focus is on getting the full bill that was introduced in Feb through the Senate,” Feinstein said Tuesday.

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