Friday, February 14, 2014

Delta Advocates State Position on Drought

Positioning over the politics of the drought is intensifying in front of President Obama’s visit to Fresno on Friday. Two bills intending to craft a federal response to the drought have been introduced in Congress. Last week the house passed far-reaching legislation introduced by San Joaquin Valley Republican David Valadao passed the House on a mostly party-line vote. The bill was ignored by the Senate, Governor Jerry Brown opposed the bill, and the President threatened to veto it. That bill sought to repeal the San Joaquin River restoration project, set aside environmental protections for the Bay Delta, lengthen irrigation contracts, raise Shasta Dam and build two new dams. A more moderate approach emphasizing drought relief has been introduced in a Senate bill, sponsored by California Democrats Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer along with Oregon Democrats, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. A companion House bill is being sponsored by Democrat Jim Costa of Fresno. Federal agencies have already responded to the crisis by temporarily curtailing water flows to restore the San Joaquin River ecosystem. Earlier this week environmental groups weighed in with their position on the drought. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.