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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

The California Emergency Drought Relief Act (HR 5781)

December 3, 2014

The California Emergency Drought Relief Act (HR 5781)

House Floor Debate Remarks in Support
Monday, December 8, 2014

Congressman Tom McClintock

California’s regulatory drought was causing enormous economic damage and human hardship long before the historic natural drought that has now stricken the state; and through all of those years the House has passed legislation, repeatedly, to address it.

Finally, after years of inaction, the Senate produced a modest measure to provide very limited flexibility for water managers to deal with it.  This bill largely reflects those provisions.  It’s a temporary, stop gap measure that suspends no environmental laws and no regulations. It simply tasks federal water managers to conserve our water for beneficial human use to the maximum extent possible once all state and federal environmental and water rights laws have been fulfilled.

Let me repeat: the bill explicitly requires all environmental laws and regulations to be adhered to.  All the House added to the Senate bill are provisions to strengthen water rights for areas of origin by adding federal protection over these rights.

During the worst drought in California’s history, we continue to release billions of gallons of water from our dams to adjust river temperatures for the fish.  Sadly, this bill doesn’t even affect this wasteful practice.     

But during the next year and a half it does give limited flexibility to water managers within these laws. That’s important, because we are getting some rainfall this season, and once all of the environmental laws have been fulfilled, we desperately need to store what surplus remains for what could be another very dry year.   To take that surplus – above and beyond what is needed to meet all of our environmental mandates -- and dump it into the Pacific Ocean as my colleagues on the left suggest we should do – is nothing short of lunacy.

The fact that this very modest bill has evoked such apoplexy from the Left is a measure of just how extreme and out of touch they have become.  

I wish this bill did much more.  But it’s a start.

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