Ahead of California Water Vote, Grijalva Questions GOP Industry Giveaways & Lack of Transparency, Highlights Dem Alternatives

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of today’s House floor debate on H.R. 23 – the misnamed “Gaining Responsibility on Water Act” – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) highlighted the bill’s enormous giveaways of natural resources to special interests and Republicans’ decision to introduce today’s bill without holding any hearings or allowing Committee members to offer prior amendments. Grijalva also highlighted a series of Democrat-supported efforts – including water reuse, desalination, water use efficiency, storm water capture, and groundwater storage and remediation – that Republicans declined to discuss during bill preparation.

H.R. 23, which California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris strongly oppose, seeks to transfer enormous amounts of fresh water to politically connected agricultural interests in California’s San Joaquin Valley, which is represented partially by H.R. 23 sponsor Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.). Valadao claims in a statement that he wants only to prevent fresh water from being flushed into the ocean,” mischaracterizing the need for sufficient flows into San Francisco bay to protect drinking water quality, threatened and endangered species, and water supplies for farms across California.

“None of the science on water or drought is reflected in this bill,” Grijalva said today. “This is all about giving multi-million-dollar companies more water at everyone else’s expense. We know how to conserve and reuse water in a dry environment, but never mind; heaven forbid we allow a river to flow all the way to its natural destination.”

Fast Facts About H.R. 23

  • Title I weakens protections for endangered and commercial fisheries that support thousands of fishing jobs across the West Coast. It preempts state and federal laws that mandate restoration of the San Joaquin River and its native salmon runs and weakens or repeals environmental protections under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, signed by President Bush in 1992 to ensure that federal water projects balance fish and wildlife protection with irrigation and power generation.
  • Title III mandates specific water deliveries for a small set of politically connected agricultural interests at the expense of other water users, fisheries, and the environment.
  • Title IV prohibits emergency releases of Trinity River water to prevent fish deaths on the Klamath River in California.
  • Titles II, V and VI limit environmental reviews for new dam construction.
  • Title VII would prevent federal agencies from placing any limits on water use when issuing federal permits or approvals, if the use is recognized under state law. This threatens Native American water rights and would allow water users to leave rivers and streams on public land dry.

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