GOP Says Obama Made California Drought Worse By Favoring Fish Over People

GOP says Obama made California drought worse by favoring fish over people

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says Republicans will try again to pass federal legislation to ease the effects of the California drought, a natural problem that the GOP says was made worse by President Barack Obama’s decision to impose federal water restrictions on homes, companies and farms in California’s Central Valley.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Wednesday imposed state-wide water restrictions for the first time in the history of the state, and said drastic cuts in water use are needed in light of the dramatic shortages seen for the last several years.

FILE - This July 31, 2014 file photo shows House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Raul Garcia has a question for Kevin McCarthy, the House’s No. 2 Republican: “While we are waiting for you on immigration reform, who should be harvesting America’s food?” It’s a provocative query and the foundation of Garcia’s long-shot challenge to McCarthy, a three-term incumbent who rose to power after another GOP leader thought unsinkable, Virginia’s Eric Cantor, fell to an unknown candidate in a primary. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says the California drought has a man-made component, in the form of Democratic policies that have overly restricted water access in order to help save the Delta smelt, a tiny fish. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

But Republicans say the Obama administration has made this natural disaster worse, by cutting off water to the Central Valley in order to protect several species of fish, including the tiny Delta smelt. In 2009, Obama invoked the Endangered Species Act and started holding back water from the valley to ensure protections for these fish, a move that Republicans say has caused significant injury to that region of the state.

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“Today’s order is the culmination of failed federal and state policies that have exacerbated the current drought into a man-made water crisis,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “Sacramento and Washington have chosen to put the well-being of fish above the well-being of people by refusing to capture millions of acre-feet of water during wet years for use during dry years.”

“These policies imposed on us now, and during wet seasons of the past, are leaving our families, businesses, communities, and state high and dry,” he added.

As early as 2012, House Republicans passed legislation that would reinstate the Bay Delta Accord, a compromise between environmentalists, farms, residents and both the state and federal governments. That compromise, Republicans say, was a more balanced approach to apportioning water resources than Obama’s solution, and is one that should be reinstated as California continues to suffer from a record-low snowpack and ongoing drought conditions.

Like so many other bills passed by the House, however, the House legislation was ignored by the Democratic Senate. That was true when the House passed similar legislation in early 2014, and the Senate also ignored a temporary solution that was aimed at boosting access to water by people and companies in hard-hit areas of the state. More

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