Effort to Suspend Endangered Species Act Fails

July 9, 2009 12:27:06 AM PDT
A new effort by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes to get more water to Valley growers has fallen short. Nunes and his supporters attempted to get the measure added as an amendment to an appropriations bill. Supporters of the measure gave committee members a bleak picture of the Central Valley.Representative Ken Calvert of Riverside introduced the measure saying, "The farming industry in my state is in a total freeze right now. 500 thousand acres are out of production. Total communities are shuttered down. All the storefronts out of business. "

Calvert was trying to push the committee to approve an amendment that would have required the federal and state water projects to waive the Endangered Species Act, and guarantee Central Valley growers more water.

Congressman Norm Dicks of Washington argued against the measure, saying the culprit is not the endangered species act, but climate change.

"You're going to have more droughts. You're going to have higher temperatures and there's going to be less water, and those are going to be the problems we face and I think it's time for you guys over there who just groan, to face the reality of what we're up against as a country, and the world."

But Congressman Tom Latham of Iowa said his sympathies were with the farmers and farm workers.

"The endangered species are human beings in the Central Valley."

In a satellite interview from Washington D.C. on Wednesday night, Congressman Devin Nunes of Visalia, who backed the bill says the effort to overturn environmental rules and give growers more water is getting stronger.

"It's growing, we're getting national attention from this issue because it is so serious. This is a government created dust bowl."

But Congressman Mike Honda of San Jose told the committee hard times were not a reason to pass the bill.

"The example of the recession that's going on in the area, that we need to alleviate it by releasing more water, it's just not that way."

The measure failed on a vote of 31 to 25. Only three Democrats on the committee supported it.

Nunes says another effort to get the amendment tacked onto another bill will continue Thursday.

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