2/29/12: It’s Back! Extremists Push Legislation in Congress to Gut Bay-Delta Protections

Like a bad penny or a serial killer in a movie franchise, southern San Joaquin Valley Republican lawmaker and rabid anti-environmental extremist Congressman Devin Nunes is back pushing proposed legislation to eliminate or weaken most protections for the collapsing Bay-Delta ecosystem. Unfortunately, this time around he’s gaining more traction in Congress.

HR 1837, the San Joaquin Valley Reliability Act, would completely upend the existing system of environmental safeguards and water rights law. The bill, which was approved in the House of Representatives February 29 on a 246-175 vote, proposes to:

  • Shield federal and state contractors who export water from the Delta from any requirements to protect endangered species that are stronger than those adopted in 1994, ignoring eighteen years of new science about the unsustainable conditions that led to the population collapse of Bay-Delta fisheries beginning in 2000 and the subsequent adoption of stronger new protections for chinook salmon, delta smelt, and other species (that the Bay Institute played a lead role in securing).

  • Override numerous state and federal environmental laws, exempt many new water projects from environmental review, and pull the rug out from current efforts to develop a comprehensive ecosystem and water supply solution for the Delta.

  • Repeal the historic agreement won by the Bay Institute and its allies to restore fisheries and flows to the dewatered San Joaquin River below Friant Dam. HR 1837 would substitute a “restoration” program to release a mere trickle of water – a tiny fraction of what is needed to bring back the river’s once great salmon run – and prohibit the state of California from adopting its own restoration requirements.

HR 1837 is opposed by the State of California, other Western states, the Obama Administration, and the editorial boards of every major newspaper in this state. The Bay Institute and other environmental groups are working to educate senators about the unprecedented damage this bill would cause. But even if the Senate rejects HR 1837, however, some or all of its provisions could be inserted in omnibus bills or budget riders.

What you can do:

Urge Senators Feinstein and Boxer to oppose HR 1837 as a reckless assault on state and federal water reforms and environmental protections that stand between the Bay-Delta system and the irrevocable loss of its species and habitats – and to ensure that no piece of this incredibly dangerous legislation is included in omnibus bills or budget riders.

Contact Senator Boxer
Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
1700 Montgomery St., Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94111

Contact Senator Feinstein
Office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104