It seems strange to have to actually say it, but much of the water policy in the United States for a very long time has not focused on having abundant water, but restricting its use; and it is very heartening to have a local congressional representative begin to change the dialogue and having the legislative position to lead that change.
An excerpt from Congressman Tom McClintock’s opening statement to the Water & Power Sub-Committee he chairs.
“Oversight Hearing on “Examining the Spending, Priorities and the Missions of the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Resources Program”
“With today’s hearing, the Water and Power Sub-Committee will begin the process of restoring abundance as the principal objective of America’s Federal water and power policy. We meet today to receive testimony from the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Service on their plans for the coming year. We do so in conjunction with our responsibility under the Federal Budget Act to provide guidance to the House Budget Committee as it prepares the 2012 budget and with our responsibility under House Resolution 72 to identify regulations and practices of the government that are impeding job creation and burdening economic growth.
“In my opinion, all of these hearings and all of the actions stemming from them must be focused on developing the vast water and hydro-electric resources in our nation. The failure of the last generation to keep pace with our water and power needs has caused chronic water shortages and skyrocketing electricity prices that are causing serious economic harm.
“In addition, willful policies that have deliberately misallocated our resources must be reversed.
“California’s Central Valley, where 200 billion gallons of water were deliberately diverted away from vital agriculture for the enjoyment and amusement of the 2-inch Delta Smelt is a case in point. These water diversions have destroyed a quarter million acres of the most fertile farmland in America, thrown tens of thousands of farm families into unemployment and impacted fruit, vegetable and nut prices in grocery stores across America.
“In Northern Arizona, 1,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity – enough to power a million homes – has been lost due to environmental mandates for the humpback chub.
“In the Klamath, the federal government is seeking to destroy four perfectly good hydroelectric dams at the cost of more than a half billion dollars at a time when we can’t guarantee enough electricity to keep refrigerators running this summer. The rationale is to save the salmon, but the same proposal would close the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery that produces 5 million salmon smolt each year.”