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Congressmen Garamendi and McNerney Offer Amendments to Protect California Water Rights and Ensure “Twin Tunnels” Comply with Environmental Laws

July 17, 2018
Press Release
Amendments to H.R. 6147 would strike language prohibiting lawsuits against California water projects including WaterFix

WASHINGTON, DC- Today, Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Davis, Yuba City), and Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton, Antioch, Lodi) offered amendments to H.R. 6147, the Interior and Environment appropriations bill, to remove language that would prohibit state and federal lawsuits against the twin tunnels and to strip language that would prohibit lawsuits against the five CALFED projects, the Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP).  

“The twin tunnels are an environmental and financial boondoggle that would devastate the ecology of the Delta to funnel more water south. As of today, over 90 parties, including environmental groups and northern California water users, have taken legal action against the tunnels. If the project is good for the whole state, as its proponents say it is, why would they try to insulate it from any legal review?” said Garamendi “The language in H.R. 6147 would not only insulate the tunnels from needed legal review but would also override water rights across the state.

“Everyone should be concerned by these riders, regardless of one’s position on the tunnels. If they were to become law, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) could destroy the Delta by sending as much water as it wanted through the tunnels, with no legal recourse to stop it. Alternatively, DWR could decide that all the water in the Delta must flow out the San Francisco Bay rather than to southern California and the twin tunnels supporters would be helpless to stop it.

“I will not stop fighting against the tunnels and to protect northern California water rights. I will do everything I can to make sure the Senate rejects these terrible riders.”

“Preventing these amendments from coming to a full vote on the House floor confirms the purely political motivations behind this troubling language, which was inappropriately included in a crucial spending bill,” said McNerney. “As the tunnels continue to face legal scrutiny from multiple stakeholders, these riders are an obvious attempt to silence the legitimate concerns from Californians throughout the state, and a blatant effort to undermine longstanding state and federal environmental law.

“The science underlying the tunnels proposal and the resulting harmful impacts to our environment and community have long been a concern to Californians. Revoking judicial review of the environmental analyses solely for these projects eliminates a critical check in our system and help clear a path for the tunnels to proceed without further oversight.

“I’ve long been a vocal opponent of the ill-conceived tunnels proposal, and I’ll continue to fight back against this disastrous plan and work alongside my colleague to push to eliminate these egregious riders.”

Unfortunately, the House Committee on Rules ruled that these amendments were not “in order,” making a purely political decision regardless of facts and denying Members an opportunity to vote on these amendments on the House floor.

Mr. Garamendi’s remarks to the House Rules Committee are available here.

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