Delta Tunnel Opponents: Secret Sen. Feinstein Bill to Throw Out Protections for Fisheries, Farms & Humans; Bill Could Help Tunnels Approval

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546;; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Delta Tunnel Opponents: Secret Sen. Feinstein Bill to Throw Out Protections for Fisheries, Farms & Humans;
Bill Could Help Tunnels Approval

Stockton, CA- Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today criticized Senator Dianne Feinstein for pushing a secret “drought relief” measure to allow more water for Westlands’ and Kern Water Districts’ mega-growers in the midst of a severe drought. “Senator Feinstein is carrying water for industrial growers who have planted tens of thousands of acres of almonds and other permanent crops in the midst of the past several very dry years,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “Sen. Feinstein is rushing through legislation to aid these growers at the expense of the rest of California. Right now, the head of Westlands Water District is helping write legislation for a massive water grab sponsored by Sen. Feinstein. Californians should be on red alert. RTD released a video calling for public hearings.

Members of Congress are manipulating the impacts of drought conditions to serve wealthy special interests. Two “drought relief” bills in the Senate threaten California sustainable farms and fisheries. The House of Representatives recently passed drought legislation that seeks to accelerate massive water transfers from the SF Bay Delta to special interests in the arid regions of the South and West San Joaquin Valley. Senator Diane Feinstein is also proposing her own “drought relief” bill in the Senate. Both bills will override environmental protections in order to provide “drought relief” for special interests. (The public has not even been given bill numbers of both drought legislations).

The SF Bay Delta cannot sustain additional water transfers without collapsing, especially in the midst of a historic drought. These federal drought bills will put in place provisions that will allow water exporters to override existing environmental regulations that protect the SF Bay Delta from excessive water transfers.

If the House and Feinstein drought bill is allowed to pass, it will hasten the extinction of our fish and wildlife species and destroy our regional economies in farming and fishing, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and livelihoods.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is rushing legislation through Congress that uses the current drought to make changes that undo critical protections for our salmon and other fisheries, and the people who rely on our river system. While it makes sense to take prudent steps to address the drought, it is unwise to use the current lack of water to do the bidding of mega-growers who want more and more water for permanent crops on unsuitable lands. That’s who gets most of the water in our public projects: huge industrial farming operations in the Westlands and Kern Water Districts. Sen. Feinstein is responding to the urging of these growers, many of whom have contributed mightily to her campaigns.

“It is disappointing that Senator Feinstein is not standing up for the economic engine of the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary, its water quality and native species that serve not only California’s economic engine but Oregon and Washington as well,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “Instead of calling for every available bucket of water to be shipped immediately to unsustainable industrial agriculture, Sen. Feinstein should instead be pursuing water demand reduction actions, plus reinforcement of Delta levees, improvement of south Delta fish screens and salvage operations, elimination of harmful water transfers through the Delta, and numerous fish protections, preclude the need for the BDCP twin tunnels.”

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