This evening, a bipartisan bill to relieve struggling California farmers from burdensome government regulations cleared the House of Representatives. The bill, introduced by Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA), is aimed at “re-establishing water access for thousands of California residents and farmers that was blocked by the Obama administration's environmental regulation,” according to a report in The Hill, which also noted that Speaker Boehner spoke on behalf of the legislation:
“‘It's a perfect example of the overreach of government,’ Boehner said of the regulations, adding that the regulations amount to an improper use of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by environmentalists.
“‘They're using a law, the endangered species law, for what I would describe as an unintended purpose,’ Boehner said. ‘They're using the law to shut down production agriculture, that they don't like, and abusing the law that was created by this Congress. It is wrong, and it should not stand.’…‘Well, here's a situation where we've have tens of thousands of farmers and those who work on those farms in the central valley of California, being denied the use of their own land, being denied the labor to feed their own families, because someone is abusing the law,’ Boehner said.”
Today’s Wall Street Journal explained why the Obama Administration’s policies are harming farmers in the struggling San Joaquin Valley:
“Environmentalists have long complained that the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta's pumps, which send water to Central Valley farmers and southern California residents, trap and kill fish. In 2006 the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for issuing a biological opinion that supported pumping more water south because the agency didn't analyze how the pumping might affect the smelt. A federal court ordered the agency to be more mindful of the smelt.
“So the agency demanded that water regulators reduce pumping. The National Marine Fisheries Services joined the fun by recommending that regulators restrict pumping to protect salmon, sturgeon and steelhead too. These opinions have superceded the water contracts of farmers and resulted in 3.4 million acre-feet of fresh water flowing into San Francisco Bay each year—enough to irrigate over a million acres of land.
“More than 10,000 farm jobs have been lost as a result, and regional unemployment stands at about 15%. Environmentalists blame the water shortages on drought, but even in wet years farmers aren't getting the water they're due.”
House Republicans will continue to fight for private-sector job creation and beat back attempts by the Obama Administration to impose its radical agenda by legislative fiat.
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