Opening Statement Resources Committee Hearing on California Drought
Longworth House Office Building. March 31, 2009. M. Chairman: On behalf of my constituents I want to thank the committee for holding a hearing today on California’s water crisis.
I think we need to be very clear that although the drought is a catalyst, the underlying problem is not an act of God but rather acts of government.
It has been estimated that roughly half of California’s current water supply is consumed to meet various environmental regulations, most of which began in this very room.
These laws are not only squandering half of our existing water supply; they are blocking the construction of long-overdue projects like the Auburn Dam.
My district, in Northeastern California is the headwaters for the mighty Sacramento River – a considerably larger watershed than the Colorado.
Yet, we store 70 million acre-feet on the Colorado and only 10 million acre-feet on the Sacramento.
The end result is that the most water-rich region of California is plagued by water shortages so severe that many of my communities are in Stage 1, 2 and 3 drought alerts.
And this, despite a relatively wet winter that has restored our reservoirs to near normal levels. It seems that God has done his part – now it is up to government to restore this water to protect the quality of life of the endangered human populations in this region.
People are suffering, the economy is suffering, and we have the ability to relieve this suffering. I look forward to hearing testimony today and discussing some common-sense solutions to this government-created problem.
M. Chairman, Representatives from the California Cattlemen’s Association are in attendance today. Since the committee has declined their request to appear today to give live testimony, I would ask for unanimous consent to allow them to submit written testimony for the record.