More unwelcome congressional attention

The California Water Commission (CWC) met on July 20 for its monthly briefings, most from Department of Water Resources (DWR) staff, on its various areas of responsibility.  After an update from the Executive Officer, commissioners got a presentation on three pieces of federal legislation.  We’ve already written at length about the disastrous consequences of one of them, Devin Nunes’s San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (H.R. 1837).

A second, Jim Costa’s More Water for Our Valley Act, 2011 (H.R. 1251) was described as a scaled back version of H.R. 1837. According to the bill’s author, it would (1) provide congressional direction with regard to what constitutes compliance with the Endangered Species Act, (2) restore operational flexibility for California water projects, and (2) provide reasonable protection to threatened species. It would be in effect until March 1, 2015.  This bill hasn’t been heard yet but has been referred to subcommittee.

The third bill, H.R. 2354, was authored by Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey and makes 2012 appropriations for energy and water development.  It appears to fund 22 of the 23 California water-related projects proposed by President Obama’s budget.  Sounds good except for an amendment to rescind the remaining balance of the San Joaquin River Restoration Fund, which would have been used to implement the San Joaquin River Settlement Agreement.  This bill has passed the House.

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