Feinstein Shows Her Hand – Minnows Rule. UPDATE X 3

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So the California water crisis has made an unexpected emergence in Washington today. Here is the story that broke today on the local Ray Appleton radio show, which happened in real time thanks to an anonymous source (probably Sen. Devin Nunes) texting the host while he was on air. I am also including updated info, as more has occurred since the end of the program.

After watching the Hannity show broadcast from the Central Valley on Thursday, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint decided to do something about it. Today he introduced a provision in a bill that would basically suspend the Endangered Species Act in regard to the Sacramento Delta for one year, which would prevent Federally mandated restrictions from shutting off water flow from the Sacramento Delta to the San Joaquin Valley, which has cause a severe shortage of water to farmers on the west side of the valley. The pumps that push water into the canal that carry water from the Delta to the San Joaquin Valley were shut off from February to July of this year, based on an ESA ruling that was intended to keep the threatened Delta Smelt, a minnow indigenous to the region, from getting sucked into the pumps (no, screens don’t help, it’s been tried). The end result; many farms had to suspend farming due to lack of water, and massive unemployment in the agricultural region. Suspending this ESA action for the next year would definitely provide some relief.

There is precedent for this action. In 2003, in a case similar the one California is facing now, Senate suspended the ESA for two years for parts of New Mexico so that people would still get water, even though that action did not conform to the ESA recommendations to protect the silvery minnow. In 1978, the Congress suspended the ESA to allow the continued operation of the Tennessee Tellico Dam, which threatened the snail darter… yep, another minnow.

Sounds like a good idea, right? Not to California Senator Dianne Feinstein. She threw a tizzy today, comparing the amendment to Pearl Harbor.


Yes, I kid you not. Here is the video. I think she is really pissed that someone outside of her domain, I mean state wound try to interfere with her turf. Mrs. Feinstein, despite your claims to the contrary, you’ve been doing noting, so someone else had to.

Granted, Mrs. Feinstein is right about one thing. The water issue is much more complicated than Hannity and others would like you to believe, as there are other issues such as California water rights system that dictates how and where water will flow in the state, and fishing interests that have some say on the issue. This provision would not have helped farmers this year. But this provision would have at least given some relief for farmers heading into next year. But now there is no guarantee that they won’t be facing the same or worse problems next year. When I talk about the screwy state of California politics and its politician, I often give some leeway to Feinstein because she has acted reasonably on many issues in the past. This time she fails…. badly.

UPDATE: It looks like the Democrats have killed the amendment. Well, they broke with tradition. This is not the change I had been hoping for.

UPDATE # 2: I wondered what happened to the other fish that were supposed to go extinct if we didn’t destroy human progress. The snail darter, which was certain to DIE if the Tellico Dam continued to operate, has been lowered from endangered to threatened. The silvery minnow – not as well. It has continued to dwindle, and now can only be found around and between the Cochiti Dam and the Elephant Butte Reservoirs, which is the main water feed for Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, Albuquerque. Where have I seen that name before? Oh yeah, that was the city that would have been devastated by the ESA had the congress not intervened. And despite the suspension of the ESA rulings there, the fish still hangs on there, only there.

UPDATE # 3: I missed this. There are programs in place that are bringing the silvery minnow back from the bring, reintroducing it to its former habitat. This approach is almost certainly going to be more effective at rescuing the fish than the ESA could ever be..

2 Comments to “Feinstein Shows Her Hand – Minnows Rule. UPDATE X 3”

  • GayPatriot » Boxer Votes to Prevent California Farmers from Working — September 23, 2009 @ 6:46 am

  • Delta Smelt — September 23, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

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