For Release: March 31, 2009
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected]
'Kangaroo-Court' Hearing a One-Sided View of California Drought
Regulations Making Water Shortage Worse
Washington, DC - The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is holding a one-sided hearing this morning on the California drought that is expected to blame climate change for a critical water shortage while glossing over the role of activist-inspired environmental policies in exacerbating the shortage, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.
The hearing, entitled "The California Drought: Actions by Federal and State Agencies to Address Impacts on Lands, Fisheries, and Water Users," will be held today, March 31, at 10:30 am in Room 1324, Longworth House Office Building.
Only representatives of government agencies will be permitted to testify at the hearing. Most of the witnesses will be from federal agencies.
To draw attention to the biased nature of the proceedings, The National Center for Public Policy Research will send a representative to the hearing best suited for a kangaroo court - a kangaroo.
"At the height of a California drought and during a serious recession with massive unemployment in California's Central Valley, one would hope that the committee cared enough about agricultural workers and minorities to invite as witnesses actual unemployed farm workers from the scores of communities closing down," remarked R.J. Smith, a Senior Fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Let's have an open Committee hearing and hear real people discussing the impacts on their lives from government regulations and their massive job losses - instead of more government bureaucrats who are only causing the problem."
California - the nation's largest producer of tomatoes, lettuce, almonds, apricots, strawberries and many other crops - risks agricultural losses of over $2 billion for the upcoming season and $3 billion in total economic losses in 2009. According to a University of California at Davis study, 80,000 jobs could be lost in the Central Valley.
Although global warming is expected to receive much of the blame for this economic disaster, government regulation is a more significant - and preventable cause - of it, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.
For example, state and federal water officials have sharply cut agricultural water deliveries in California so that more water can go out to sea as part of an effort to protect the Delta Smelt - a three-inch long fish listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In February, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a "zero allocation" of water from the Central Valley Project, cutting off the massive federal irrigation system that serves numerous California farms. The supply of water from California's State Water Project is 20 percent of normal.
"By demanding that the water flow into the Pacific Ocean, government meddlers have forced farmers to abandon production, threatening both the nation's fresh food supplies and the jobs of farm workers, many of whom are among the nation's poorest minorities," said Mr. Smith. "Ironically, the cut-off of agricultural water has done nothing to help the Delta Smelt. Every year less water is diverted for agriculture, yet the fish population continues to decline."
The state of California also deserves blame for the water shortage because it has failed to build the water infrastructure necessary for the state's growing population.
Donn Zea, President of the Northern California Water Association, wrote in the March 5th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle that although California's population has doubled over the past 40 years, the state has not meaningfully updated its water storage capacity since 1967. "As a result, when drought hits, we have an amount of water suitable for California in 1960 - not 2009," wrote Mr. Zea.
The Resources Committee - which has a history of promoting global warming alarmism - is expected to explore the dubious link between a modest increase in global temperatures and localized weather patterns devastating California.
"If certain members of the House Natural Resources Committee want the world to believe that a regional drought in an arid area of California is further 'proof' of global warming, then let's hope that they apply the same reasoning to the floods that are ravaging eastern and central North Dakota," remarked Dr. Bonner Cohen, a Senior Fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research. "By the thousands, residents of Fargo and Bismarck are trying to protect their cities from the rising waters of the Red and Missouri Rivers. The blocks of ice on the Missouri River north of Bismarck were so huge that explosives were used to blow them up. Will Chairman Rahall invite Fargo's mayor and other North Dakota officials before his committee to testify on how ordinary citizens spent hours in sub-freezing, snowy weather protecting their homes and businesses from the effects of global cooling?"
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit 501(c)(3) communications and research foundation dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems. For more information, visit the National Center's website at www.nationalcenter.org or call (202) 507-6398.