Dysfunctional congressional delegation

If you watch the Fox News channel you may have seen Sean Hannity’s program that was rebroadcast from the heart of the San Joaquin Valley’s devastated farm land. Hannity has taken an interest in the ongoing saga of the Delta smelt that has created an economic disaster, and caused 500,000 acres of prime farmland to turn bone dry due to the Endangered Species Act.

Hannity’s broadcast appearance near Huron drew a large crowd and local congressmen, including Congressman Devin Nunes whose family has farmed in Tulare County for several generations. Nunes has made numerous attempts to put a temporary stop to the ruling that has put a chokehold on water deliveries.

Last month CAFA sent a letter of support to Congressman Nunes’ effort to have a “temporary reprieve” to allow sufficient water deliveries for the planting season and continue until there is a long-term solution. A number of attempts to restore water deliveries have been shot down by members of California’s congressional delegation. This reminds us of a newspaper column we read several years ago that excoriated California’s congressional delegation and labeled it as being dysfunctional. Unfortunately it’s clearly evident that nothing has changed.

During Hannity’s broadcast, for example, Nunes said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had blocked numerous attempts to turn the water back on until a logical solution is agreed upon. The Tulare County congressman even turned to the Senate where Jim DeMint of South Carolina offered an amendment that would have “assured reliable water deliveries” for one year. While Sen. DeMint’s amendment didn’t fly, at least California Sen. Dianne Feinstein did follow up on a recent promise she made at a meeting after touring the San Joaquin Valley’s West Side. She promised to have the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion reviewed by a scientific panel. In early October we learned that the National Academy of Science will conduct the review. On one hand it is good news given the non-partisan organization’s reputation. On the downside, however, it will take at least six months before the Academy releases its opinion and recommendations.

In the meantime, Congressman Nunes continues to forge ahead in an attempt to seek a one or two year suspension of the Endangered Species Act as soon as possible. In a letter dated Oct. 1, he noted that New Mexico was given a waiver in 2003 when Albuquerque’s water supply was threatened. Anyone who is interested in commenting can get full details at the congressman’s Web site, nunes.house.gov.

• Alfalfa & Forage Conference

This year’s conference (alfalfa.ucdavis.edu) is being held in Reno at the Sierra Grand Resort & Casino. A new twist to the pre-conference event on Dec. 2: Instead of the traditional bus tour of the surrounding area, this year’s conference will feature a half-day “Hands-on Diagnostic Workshop”. Participants will rotate through sessions that cover soil fertility, weeds, insects, and diseases and nematodes. Pre-registration is required and there is a fee of $50.

TAGS: Legislative
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