California Courts Feeding Farmers to the Fish!

Families or Fish? Farmers Fight Man-Made Drought!

Tiny minnows called Smelt that live in the river delta have been found caught in California’s water pumps.  Environmentalists sued.  The court’s solution?  Turn the pumps off!  At the cost of 80,000 jobs in the state, and local unemployment of close to 40% this man-made, court-imposed drought is an outrage. No wonder there are signs up and down the state decrying the congress created dust bowl! Watch the video, the footage is incredible.

—Beetle Blogger

Thanks to commenter George T. for posting this article….I’m reposting here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Natural Resources Committee held a full committee hearing today on the “The California Drought: Actions by Federal and State agencies to address impacts on lands, fisheries and water users.” Witnesses, including several members of California’s Congressional delegation, testified that this is a man-made drought, resulting from Endangered Species Act regulations that have diverted much-needed water from California families on the farm to three-inch Delta Smelt fish in the bay. The man-made actions have been devastating to California’s San Joaquin Valley where it is estimated that this year alone up to 35,000 jobs will be lost and 300,000 acres of farm land won’t be used because water has been diverted.

Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) explained, “Communities dependent on irrigated agriculture are now approaching 40% unemployment as they watched over 83 billion gallons of water – which was water normally dedicated to the fields — go out to the ocean in the last month alone. It’s important to protect lands and endangered fish, but our government’s environmental policies shouldn’t make our communities endangered in the process.”

Republicans have offered numerous solutions to provide necessary relief to families, farmers and businesses in California’s San Joaquin Valley who are struggling to survive in the midst of a man-made drought. Solutions include passing legislation (specifically H.R. 996 and H.R. 856) to suspend the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act during times of drought emergency to ensure that the Delta pumps operate at historic capacity, encouraging the Administration to take steps to allow for water transfers and temporary barriers to keep smelt away from the pumps, and offering new water storage as a longer-term proposal to help the State in alternating times of drought and floods.

Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-21) warned, “This Congress has stood silent for nearly two years as San Joaquin Valley residents have been starved of water. Democrat leaders need to stop hiding behind the courts and bowing down to special interests. If they do not act within the next 30 days, it’s over. We will witness the collapse of modern civilization in the San Joaquin Valley.

Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-44) testified that there is no proof that diverting water to the ocean will actually benefit the Delta Smelt fish. “If this Committee is going to continue to give federal agencies the authority to take actions that kill jobs and harm our economy for the benefits of species, then the American people deserve clear and undeniable evidence that those actions are in fact benefiting the species.”

Congressman George Radanovich (CA-19) noted that “the draconian regulations that turn simple fish into the worshipful gods of the environmental community and ignore the inalienable rights of people have led us to conclude that Government does not work for us any more–we need the Government to protect the safety and happiness of people, not fish.”

Congressman Wally Herger (CA-02) stressed the need for “a sustainable, balanced and comprehensive solution to this water situation that will allow us to equitably meet the needs of all water users, human and otherwise. Continuing down the same path we have been on for decades is not acceptable.”

Additionally, 17 members of the California Congressional delegation today sent… letter to Committee Chairman Nick Rahall and Ranking Member Hastings, requesting field hearings on the California drought in order to get “the Committee to step outside the Washington beltway and hear firsthand accounts from citizens throughout California impacted by the drought.”

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10 Comments

  1. mommyspy said,

    June 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    California is losing more than fruits and vegetables that feed our nation and the world. When a farming family is denied the resources to continue growing our food, their only option is to sell their land and move somewhere else. How long could your family survive with NO INCOME? Think about this. Once the property is sold and the people who have the experience and knowledge to grow food have moved away, our agricultural economy is gone and cannot be revived, even if the water issue is resolved. Our resource of agricultural knowledge and people willing and able to farm in California is going to be lost and THAT is the real tragedy to this state and the nation.

  2. Raytmimer said,

    June 2, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    That video ought to be broadcast far and wide. Why haven’t we seen this before? How long has this been going on? It’s CRAZY. Makes you want to start planting a garden.

  3. beetlebabee said,

    June 3, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Good point mommyspy. If the farmers leave, they take with them the business, knowledge etc. It takes more than just a book to get that back. I want to know what Sacramento’s plan is for fixing the pumps. I haven’t heard a word on it. So far, everyone is just blaming the lack of rain for this situation.

  4. pomegranateappleblog said,

    June 3, 2009 at 10:19 am

    It’s important to remember that the pumps were closed not because the fish is an important part of the ecosystem, but because it is now on the endangered species list.

    I know it’s mean to say, but I care more about three generation orchards and fields (as an ecosystem/environment), tens of thousands of jobs, and food for the entire country than I do about the existence of a two inch fish.

    The environmentalists are part of the reason CA is bankrupt. They make it impossible to work. Literally. Now the orchards are dead.

  5. Rita Danning said,

    June 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Fish over families? Is there even a question??

  6. Salome Johnson said,

    June 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    “Supporters of same-sex marriage talk all day long about fairness. But to get their bill through, they intentionally violated Senate rules written to guarantee minority approval of controversial legislation. Gov. John Lynch ought to have vetoed the bill for that reason alone. A matter as divisive as this should pass into law by force of persuasion, not by sleight of hand.”

    That’s the best quote I’ve heard in this thing yet. That’s right. If we’re going to make a change in social policy, let’s do it above board. All the way.

  7. beetlebabee said,

    June 11, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Update:

    The Delta Smelt’s Dirty Little Secret

    The delta smelt – a tiny fish the size of a small child’s hand – has a stranglehold on California’s water supply. Restrictions put in place on behalf of the smelt have resulted in drastic water shortages for farmers and municipalities as well as a further loss of jobs in the already economically depressed Central Valley. Coupled with the fact that no one is certain whether more water for fish (and less for humans) will actually help the delta smelt, it is little wonder why few understand the fairness of this situation.

    To be sure, over-zealous environmental organizations may be blamed for the fish-before-people mantra that persists in today’s political climate. But the reality is that the current water restrictions are the result of a 2008 Endangered Species Act decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This federal decision was issued on behalf of the delta smelt, a threatened species; the decision has significantly curtailed the ability of California’s two main water projects to export much-needed water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta southward.

    Many groups have protested against this absurdity, and justifiably so. Farm workers marched across the Central Valley, pointing to the vast unemployment brought on by the water restrictions. Governor Schwarzenegger has strongly urged the Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its draconian enforcement of the ESA. Several irrigation districts have filed lawsuits in order for the Service’s decision to be overturned. The message behind these efforts is clear: taking water from the Central Valley and giving it to the delta smelt is unreasonable and unlawful.

    And yet, such efforts have left unquestioned a key assumption that underlies the delta smelt’s regulatory burden. Leaving aside questions of fairness for the moment, one must also ask: does the Fish and Wildlife Service even have the authority to act on behalf of the smelt?

    The answer is no – the delta smelt’s dirty little secret is that it exists only in California, has no commercial value, and that, consequently, it may not be used by the Fish and Wildlife Service as a reason to restrict water deliveries. Politicians and bureaucrats may not want to hear this, but without a connection to interstate commerce, the federal government has no authority under the U.S. Constitution to mandate smelt-based restrictions.

    So while the fairness (or lack thereof) of this regulatory drought is an important topic, so too is the authority of the federal government to even create this untenable situation in the first place. It’s one thing to place the value of the delta smelt above that of farmers, laborers, and the entire economic viability of the Central Valley. It’s an even greater travesty when that is done contrary to law.

    That is why, last week, Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of small and independent farms to challenge the cutbacks in water deliveries that they have incurred. We believe the restrictions are an invalid exercise of federal authority under the U.S. Constitution. Our clients are almond and pistachio growers and, like so many other farmers in the Central Valley, they play a vital role in California’s economy. But by acting in disregard of the Constitution, the Fish and Wildlife Service has jeopardized their livelihoods and that of future generations. As president of his family farming company Stewart & Jasper Orchards, Jim Jasper is particularly concerned. “I’ve always had aspirations that we would be able to continue with this business for generations to come and provide food and jobs for families throughout California,” he said. “But with what is happening in the Central Valley today, these dreams probably will not come true.”

    It no doubt will be a long and difficult fight Mr. Jasper and our other clients. But their message is one that must be heard in Pacific Legal Foundation’s and the rest of the country’s fight against Big Government: the guiding document of each and every federal agency is the Constitution, and before restricting the delivery of water or imposing any other regulatory burden, they are obligated to ensure that they have the constitutional authority to do so.

    The Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to restrict water deliveries gave short shrift to the obligation to follow the Constitution. Given that the delta smelt has no connection to interstate commerce, the Service should have refrained from analyzing the smelt’s tenuous relationship with the California’s water system.

    Instead, the Service turned the tables and determined that it had to reduce water exports in order to protect the smelt. As a result, our clients and thousands of others in California have lost their water. These cutbacks are far from reasonable, as the 40% unemployment that persists throughout Central Valley towns demonstrates. To add insult to injury, they are also unconstitutional.

    http://plf.typepad.com/esa/2009/05/the-delta-smelts-dirty-little-secret.html

  8. mario said,

    September 17, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Now I know why I am forced to buy all that so-so produce from Chile.
    What is happening in California is totally insane. Why is this not covered by the left media? In other times and places this would have justified a full revolution!
    This country better wake up to the true agenda of the left…the destruction of capitalism and destabilization of this country by any means. ESA has been taken to absurdity level and as such unconstitutional when it puts animal above human livelihood, therefore unenforceable. The farmers should continue pumping water and defy the arbitrary ESA. ESA should be balanced against human cost/benefit analysis.
    California should thank the left for the highest unemploymentin USA, and remeber that at the next election.

  9. Charlie Castor said,

    September 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Most of these jobs are taken by mexican farmers, yet when it comes to the issue on immigration this is the same fool who wants to kick them all back to their country. The sooner people learn about the functions of eco-systems and how they do not work around humanity’s needs, the sooner these issues can be resolved in a correct manner.

  10. beetlebabee said,

    September 30, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Charlie, do you have information to back up your claim that most of these farmers are illegal Mexicans? That’s a pretty large assumption, stereotypical and more than a little racist.


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