NRDC: The House Can’t Outlaw California’s Drought

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WASHINGTON (February 5, 2014)--The House today passed a purported anti-drought measure for California that would do nothing to ease the state’s unprecedented water crisis, but would seriously harm the interests of farmers, fishermen and small businesses.  The bill, H.R. 3964, would preempt state law, rip up the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement that benefits all Californians, including farmers, and eliminate protections for salmon and other native fisheries under federal statutes, including the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, signed by President Bush in 1992. California Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, the state’s two Senators and a majority of  its House delegation oppose the bill.

Ann Notthoff, director of California advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued the following statement:

“You can’t outlaw drought, which in effect is what this bill tries to do.  It blames a water agreement for the lack of rain and offers false solutions that threaten the state’s rivers, water supplies and thousands of fishing and farming jobs. That’s why Sen. Feinstein has called the bill ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dangerous,’  Governor Brown says it would ‘re-open old water wounds undermining years of progress’ on long-term water needs, and Attorney General Kamala Harris says it ‘transgresses the principles of state sovereignty’.  The legislation uses the excuse of the drought to help some farmers and hurt other users, including fishermen. The Senate should reject this cynical bill and our federal legislators instead should promote investments in water recycling, storm water capture, water use efficiency and other measures to provide communities with drought-resistant water supplies for the long term, which is what our state legislators are doing here at home.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at

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