Lawmakers planning bill to assist drought relief in California
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2014 - Three House lawmakers, including House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said today they intend to introduce emergency drought legislation to provide relief throughout California.
McCarthy, Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., were joined today at a press conference by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to announce the proposal. “California is facing one of the worst droughts in history,” Valadao said. “Congress cannot make it rain, but they can provide relief from burdensome environmental regulations.”
The lawmakers said their proposal incorporates three main actions:
- Turning on the Delta pumps this year and next year to capture future rain events.
- Ending restoration flows in the San Joaquin River for this year and next year in order to stop wasting water.
- Establishing a bipartisan, emergency joint committee from the House and Senate to devise a long-term legislative solution.
Tom Nassif, president of Western Growers, said, “The drought is doing great damage to farmers, farm workers and many other people who are part of the most productive agriculture state in the country. Federal regulatory decisions made last year in the Delta made this situation much worse, by failing to pump and store more than 800,000 acre feet of winter runoff.”
The lawmakers offered their proposal days after California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declared a state of emergency directing state officials to take necessary actions to combat serious drought conditions as farmers there are dealing with record low levels of rainfall. The declaration said the state's water supplies have dropped to alarming levels with snowpack in California's mountains at about 20 percent of the normal average, low water reservoir levels, and reduced surface water flows. In addition, several wildfires have continued to rage across various parts of the state.
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