Feinstein Waves White Flag in Water War

MARCH 12, 2012


In California’s historical water wars force and fraud typically prevail during battle. The consent of the governed only emerges when there is a necessity for peace and compromise.

On March 9. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., signaled she would seek a deal rather than keep fighting H.R. 1837. That’s the San Joaquin River Valley Water Reliability Act sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Clovis.  HR 1837 would have repealed Feinstein’s three-year-old H.R. 146, the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act of 2009.  Forget the similar sounding titles to these opposing pieces of legislation.

Feinstein’s H.R. 146 took water from Central Valley farmers to redistribute to commercial and recreational fishing interests in the San Joaquin River; raised water rates for Central Valley farmers to subsidize fishing and recreational “restoration”; and required that renewal of agricultural water contracts had to go through an environmental review for distribution of mitigations to special interests.

The Republican-backed H.R. 1837 would undo all this.

The problem that Feinstein faces is that two of her own generals in the Central Valley Water War defected to the enemy Republicans. The defectors are her fellow Democrats Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno and Dennis Cardoza of Atwater), both representing agricultural parts of the Central Valley of California.

And six other Democratic water warriors in the House representing agricultural areas in other states voted for the Republican bill: Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Jim Matheson of Utah and Colin Peterson of Minnesota.

Even Democrat Rep. Jason Altmire, who authored the amendment that broke the stalemate on the Omnibus Lands Act of 2009, voted for the Republic-sponsored H.R. 1837.  Feinstein’s H.R. 146 passed in 2009 as a rider bill on the Omnibus Lands Act.

Unsignable Bill Becomes Signable

Up until last week, falsehoods and political posturing mainly framed the issue of the San Joaquin River in the media. And the mainstream newspaper press bit into the water issue literally and figuratively by hook, line, and sinker.

As recently as Feb. 12, Sen. Feinstein twittered that she opposed H.R. 1837.

On Feb. 17, Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., issued a press release stating, “H.R. 1837’s potential for harm to our state cannot be overstated.” But was it harmful when Feinstein took water from farmers in 2009 under HR 146 to give it to fishing, recreational and real estate interests?

The green Bay Institute wrote on Feb. 29 a bulletin entitled, “It’s Back! Extremists Push Legislation in Congress to Gut the Bay Delta Project.” Hmmm.  Only Republicans are “extremists”?

Dan Bacher, editor of Fish Sniffer Magazine, called H.R. 1837 “the Salmon Extinction Bill.”  No mention was made of what land or water rights — riparian, appropriative or “area of origin” — that fishing interests held to demand environmental mitigations for their supposed losses. They wanted water rights created out of legislation and political favoritism. And Feinstein’s H.R. 146 would have given them water rights for fishing and recreation that would have trumped agriculture even during a drought!

Water Grab

Instead of buying land or water rights, fishing and recreational interests want politicians to give it to them in the name of environmental restoration. Environmentalism is just a cover for California’s water wars.  Feinstein’s HR 146 would have created no new water — just redistributed agricultural water to other voting interests and had farmers pay the tab on top of that with higher water rates.  Paraphrasing an Arab proverb: It would have been wiser for Sen. Feinstein to bring some water when going out to redistribute water. But her political party is based on dividing water, not creating new water resources.

Democratic Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, asserted that H.R. 1837 was starting a “water war.”  But that water war had begun three years earlier when Feinstein grabbed water from Central Valley farmers for redistribution to fishing, recreational and real estate interests in the San Joaquin Valley

On Feb 28, President Barack Obama vowed to veto H.R. 1837.

But according to the Fresno Bee newspaper, by March 9 Feinstein was in meetings with Republican Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock to negotiate a halt to the propaganda and water grabbing war.

‘Fire, water and government know nothing of mercy.’

Feinstein and Boxer and their voting block in the U.S. Senate could have killed H.R. 1837, could have rewritten their own bill to send back to the U.S. House or could have done nothing.

But this is an election year.  Feinstein herself is up for re-election. Democrats may not have the votes needed to shoot down H.R. 1837 in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate.  Or Democrats may need bipartisan support to pass other legislation for jobs bills in their home districts to “bring home the bacon” before the election.

Thus, consent of the governed is emerging only because of political necessity, not out of any concern for a phony Delta “democracy.”  Up until Feinstein offered to call a truce and negotiate a new treaty, the only “democracy” that had emerged was a kleptocratic democracy (a government characterized by rampant greed and corruption).

“Fire, water, and government may know nothing of mercy,” runs a proverb. But hopefully Democrats and Republicans will come to an agreement of the “consent of the governed” in negotiating new terms to California’s historic water social contract between farmers and other interests in California’s perpetual water wars.



Write a comment
  1. David H
    David H 11 March, 2012, 21:46

    Providing people with food at prices they can afford is worth more than sport fishing or recreation, or development for that matter. I feel sorry for the poor fish and fishermen because of decreased water flows and pollutants but raising food prices and taking agricultural land out of productions in not the answer. The smart fish and fishermen will go to better waters. Maybe our politicians will too.

    Reply this comment
  2. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 11 March, 2012, 22:13

    It’s really time for Feinstein to hang it up. How old is she now? 80? And she wants 6 more years? The voters need to push her butt out the door. And she has never seen a war that she didn’t love. She has orgasms over sending kids into battle to die for her corporate blood money. And she walks arm in arm with the Wall Street crooks too. DiFi, Hillary and Pelosi would be a perfect combination to play the 3 witches of MacBeth.

    Reply this comment
  3. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 12 March, 2012, 01:07

    Wow, she is 80……time to hang it up. She has been a sentator, with Boxer, for what-20+ years now?????

    Reply this comment
    JKEYES 12 March, 2012, 08:28

    I hope Feinstein does not run and we get a U.S Senator who cares about the working folks.

    Reply this comment
  5. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 12 March, 2012, 09:37

    Many people aren’t aware of how dirty Feinstein is. This story was downplayed by the media. There was no congressional investigation. Want to know why? Because her good friend, Babs Boxer, chaired the Senate Ethics Committee at the time. Complete whitewash. Read this:


    Reply this comment
  6. Karen M
    Karen M 12 March, 2012, 10:47

    @David H…”I feel sorry for the poor fish and fishermen because of decreased water flows and pollutants but raising food prices and taking agricultural land out of productions in not the answer. The smart fish and fishermen will go to better waters.”

    If you took the time to research the entire issue, you would then correctly come to the conclusion that maybe it IS the answer to not allow these corporate/absentee landowners to continue to plant permanent crops that are EXPORTED and demand high continues amounts of water to maintain, as well as huge amounts of water to irrigate their polluted toxic soil out of production…because apparently, as with smart fish and fisherman, these ‘smart’ farmers would go to better soil where water is naturally abundant.

    Your ignorance only further muddies water already opaque.

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 12 March, 2012, 11:01

    Feinsteins Hubby runs CB Richard Ellis commercial real estste, and he has gotten tons of sweetheart deals to dispose of bank owned prioerty (banks taken over by the gov).

    Reply this comment
  8. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 12 March, 2012, 11:38

    Feinstein was born in ’33. That will make her 79 when she runs for office again in Nov. That means she’ll be 85 at the end of her term. WAY TOO DAMN OLD TO BE IN THE SENATE VOTING ON CRITICAL ISSUES THAT IMPACTS MY LIFE!!!!

    Go spend time with your grandkids, DiFi! Give up the power you old bag!

    Reply this comment
  9. LGMike
    LGMike 12 March, 2012, 12:36

    Negotiate, sure Senator Feinstein is willing to talk now, because she knows what ever bill that would be good for Republican’s will be vetoed by the President, and we all know you can’t get a 2/3 override vote in the Senate.

    Reply this comment
  10. Chris Gulick
    Chris Gulick 12 March, 2012, 13:27

    DIFI is a well oiled weathervane that swings in whatever direction pays the most.She will do the bidding of her buddy Stewart Resnick as she always has. Wouldn’t John Garamendi make a fine senator ?

    Reply this comment
  11. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 12 March, 2012, 14:41

    Now let’s try and retrospectively interpret those signs posted along Highway 99 and Interstate 5 with words like “New Dust Bowl” and “No Water-No Jobs” with dried up farm fields along the roads.

    The political Left said the farmers never experienced a drought because farm productivity and gross revenues increased during the court-ordered “drought” from 2007 to 2010. But that is because farmers shifted to groundwater and fallowed acreage that depended on appropriate water granted by either the state or Federal governments.

    So what the farmers were apparently trying to tell the public was that their Central Valley Water was grabbed by Sen. Feinstein and her HR 146 Bill in 2009. And they didn’t want the Delta Smelt case to grab even more.

    See here: http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x1928173741/Water-for-Central-Valley-farms-plentiful-but-drought-signs-remain

    Reply this comment
  12. Joshua
    Joshua 12 March, 2012, 15:40

    Those dried up fields are fairly convincing….driving through the 5 last week, with walls of dust being blown around definitively seems like a dustbowl…though of course the sheer scale of the dustbowl in the 20’s and 30’s was far greater

    Reply this comment
  13. David H
    David H 13 March, 2012, 09:19

    Karen M, The central CA valley is the most productive farm land in the world. Export or not it affects the price of food here as our production competes with imports. The CA valley is a perfect location for agricultural production with abundant water in the surrounding mountains that naturally flow to the ocean through her bosom. I’m all for an increase in organic crops and a decrease in harmful pesticides, but it’s asinine to tear out damns. In my value system people are worth more than fish, and food production is worth more than recreation.

    Reply this comment
  14. Denny Schneider
    Denny Schneider 13 March, 2012, 10:18

    Do either of the bills provide money to shore up the aged Sacramento Dela levys? I understand from MWD that one major earthquake could breech a levy allowing fresh and salt water to mix resulting in half of the So Cal water supplu being lost for at least six years….

    Reply this comment
  15. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 13 March, 2012, 13:00

    It is my understanding that the proposed Water Bond – not the Peripheral Canal proposal by the Governor – would include levy reconstruction. The Biblical apocalypse portrayed by water agencies of being cut off from northern California water supplies is self-serving so it is hard to know what the truth is.

    You are making a case for the Peripheral Canal. If there is a cut off of California Aqueduct water from the Delta but water could be routed around the Delta it would add a flexible and more reliable source of water. But politically, the water social contract in California has historically been water in return for flood protection.

    Read my article “Cadiz Water Holds the Key to CA’s Resources” at this website. It explains how dry lake beds are nature’s way to allowing underground water to escape to the atmosphere. Harvesting dry lake beds would take no water from anyone nor the environment. How much water might there be to harvest from dry lake beds is probably not known. But it is worth exploring.

    Reply this comment

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