With Governor Jerry Brown declaring a drought emergency in California, three House Republicans from the Central Valley are playing politics by adding an amendment to the farm bill that would force pumping more water from the delta to irrigate farms and halt work on the San Joaquin river restoration. Unfortunately, without the massive outflows from rain water and snow melt into the delta, the only water anyone can pump out of the delta is salt water from the San Francisco Bay.
That begs an interesting question: Why would Republicans want to irrigate California farms with salt water?
The obvious answer is that these House Republicans are throwing out a bone to their constituents from a “do nothing” Congress for the 2014 midterm elections. The Central Valley farmers always want more water for their water-intensive crops and don’t give a damn about the endangered fishes in the delta that people outside the Central Valley rely upon. As House Speaker John Boehner (R – Ohio) explained in Bakersfield, “In my part of the world we would shake our heads at how things work here. It’s nonsense that a bureaucracy would favor fish over people.”
Speaking of John Boehner’s part of the world, the West Virginia chemical spill is a mysterious disaster that wouldn’t happen in California.
Alternatively, since California is a very much blue state that isn’t going purple or red in the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, the Republicans may want to destroy the economy at the state level by ruining California farms with irrigated salt water. With the state budget producing a surplus underneath a Democratic governor, the imminent economic collapse and/or zombie apocalypse in California that conservatives have raved about for years desperately needs some help.
Fortunately, the farm bill amendment failed in the House. Now water-rich Southern California is complaining about their water from the Colorado River is being given to water-poor Northern California, which previously happened in the 1976-1977 drought.
Updated 07 February 2014: The Republicans rammed the amendment through the House as a stand-alone bill on a party-line vote with no chance of being passed in the Democratic-controlled Senate. As the drought intensifies, the water wars will get nastier.