Feinstein Ends Truce, Restarts Water Wars

MARCH 29, 2012


California’s water wars are back. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a letter to the Association of California Water Agencies late Tuesday March 27 again pitting North against South.

The letter stated Feinstein was no longer entertaining compromise legislation on House Resolution H.R. 1837, the San Joaquin 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  HR 1837 would have repealed Feinstein’s three-year-old H.R. 146, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (formerly called the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act of 2009).

Politicians have a way of using titles to their legislation that covers up what it is really all about.

Feinstein’s H.R. 146:

* Took water in 2009 from Central Valley farmers to redistribute to tourist commercial, fishing, recreational and real estate interests in the San Joaquin River under the guise of environmental restoration and mitigation;
* 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.

Simply stated, the Republican-backed H.R. 1837 would have undone all this.

For a brief period, Feinstein was apparently willing to listen to a Republican proposal for a compromise bill brokered by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. In a water war, as in all wars over water, it is difficult for opponents to meet face to face to make peace. HR 1837 was authored by Nunes and spearheaded by Rep. Tom McClintock R-Elk Grove, head of the U.S. House’s Subcommittee on Water and Power. Apparently, Feinstein has ended listening to any compromise proposals by Republicans.

DiFi’s Reelection Bid

Feinstein is also running for reelection in November and doesn’t want any appearance of capitulation to HR 1837 in the eyes of her environmentalist political base.

The Legislative Affairs Committee of the Association of California Water Agencies is holding a meeting on Thursday March 29 to issue a position statement on H.R. 1837.  Feinstein’s letter was to make her position clear that she will work to defeat H.R. 1837 if  it’s brought before the U.S. Senate.

Instead of pursuing compromise, Feinstein’s letter states she wants to pursue the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the proposed state water bond, and water transfers, banking and recycling.  All of these are wholly Democratic Party-backed measures that stick agriculture, wholesale water agencies and cities with the tab for all of the above projects and policies.

In the case of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the hidden agenda is for Northern California to stick farmers, cities and water agencies with the bill for creating a huge regional “sewer district” that would clean up Delta pollution mainly caused by Northern California waste water discharges and urban runoff. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a cost-shifting scheme. But to pull this off, Northern California interests must disguise their actions as “environmentalism.”  And to do so they must demonize water agencies, cities, and farmers.

‘Consent of the Governed’

Thus, Feinstein’s letter represents an abandonment of an attempt to reach the “consent of the governed” and continued pursuit of her goals by force and fraud.  “Consent of the governed” is not the same as “compromise” or “consensus.” It implies that voluntary assent should be attained of those who must pay taxes, give up water, pay higher water rates or pay out mitigations.

What is at stake with attaining “consent of the governed” over Central California water is no less than democracy itself.  Otherwise any “consensus” would be a sham water grab by a kleptocratic state.

In California water war history, Feinstein’s water policies would be a sophisticated return to the water grabs of the Mulholland era of the Los Angeles Department of Water and power in Mono Lake in the early 20th century.  But even DWP paid market prices for land and water rights involving voluntary transactions.

Such “consent of the governed” was reached in 1994 with the Bay-Delta Accord.  Both Democrats such as President Bill Clinton and California Republican Gov. Pete Wilson agreed to the accord.

One-Sided Policy

H.R. 1837 would have “restored” the Bay-Delta Accord as the compromise policy document for the Delta, the San Joaquin River and the Central Valley.  But Feinstein and her Party of Government do not want to return to that former treaty in the North-South water war.

Instead, Feinstein has signaled she wants to pursue the one-sided water redistribution policies of her political party. And the only way to do that without “consent of the governed” is by force and fraud.

Hence, it is back to the water wars using the force of laws and the fraud of environmentalism as a cover for redistributionist policies. But public opinion polls are indicating a thin 51 percent approval for the proposed $11 billion state water bond on the November ballot. California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, R-Sacramento, indicated March 27 that the state water bond may be pulled from the ballot due to weak public support.

Radio and television commentator John Gibson was once quoted: “We’d love to be able to work out compromises to these problems, as long as they don’t compromise access to our land and water.”  This pretty much sums up the tug of war with the North-South water war in California over Central Valley water.

Water wars are obviously about water. But they are also often about real estate and wealth transfers.  This is why Mark Twain famously wrote: “Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting.”


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