June 23, 2015—It is now abundantly clear that the California drought – now in its fourth year and the worst in our state’s history – requires a thoughtful, forward-looking congressional response. With reservoirs depleted, groundwater basins overdrawn and record low flows in our rivers, now is not the time for politics as usual.
Governor Brown, the state legislature, and President Obama have all stepped up in creative ways to get us through this terrible drought, but Congress has done nothing. Instead of coming together across party lines to help California and other drought impacted states—as Congress usually does with natural disasters—House Republicans have treated the drought as a political opportunity to advance their longstanding agenda of weakening environmental and fishery protections, and redirecting water to some regions to the detriment of others. They’ve tried and failed with this divisive approach each of the last three years.
Congress can and must do better. That’s why I’ve taken the lead in drafting the kind of serious, comprehensive legislation this crisis demands. I’ve not only reached out to stakeholders, economists, farmers, conservationists and water managers for good ideas, I’ve posted the draft bill online to “crowdsource” public input—all to make the bill the best it can be. That’s why today’s San Francisco Chronicle editorial says:
“Rep. Jared Huffman’s “crowdsourced” water bill is a radical departure from the water wars, backroom deals and water grabs of the past and reframes thinking about water. He hasn’t even introduced the bill, yet we already can tell it will be significant legislation because it recognizes this: We can no longer fight over untapped water supplies. There’s nothing left.”
My bill would provide emergency funds to extend our water supply and ensure that necessary repairs and upgrades are made to our infrastructure. It would move past the “water wars” by working to benefit every region impacted by the drought and by respecting our environmental laws. It includes short and long term strategies for drought resilience, and all of this is being done through a transparent, inclusive, and deliberative process.
Our drought crisis shouldn’t be a partisan political football. I want to hear from everyone and it’s my hope that House Republicans will work with me and the many colleagues and groups who are lining up behind my bill.
Thanks for your help,
P.S. North Coast friends—please join me this Sunday in Humboldt County for my 3rd annual Family Jamboree event—tickets are still available for this fun community gathering!