The San Joaquin River Agreement and H.R. 1837 - A Deal is a Deal

Posted on 29 May 2011

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend by emailSend by email

By Barry Nelson
Natural Resources Defense Council

Next Thursday, the House of Representatives Water and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on perhaps the most radical bill on California water issues I’ve encountered in my career.  H.R. 1837, introduced by Congressman Devin Nunes (R, Visalia), would roll back federal protections for the San Francisco Bay-Delta, its tributaries and its fisheries.  It would pre-empt state water laws, overturn state water rights and undermine efforts to find solutions to the many challenges facing the Bay-Delta. One of its many remarkable provisions would overturn the consensus agreement to restore the San Joaquin River.

The agreement to restore the San Joaquin was an historic moment in California water policy. After years of divisive litigation, all of the parties to the suit reached an agreement to restore flows and salmon to the parched river.  That settlement contained carefully balanced provisions to make it acceptable to all sides.

Following the settlement, a series of meetings were convened by Senator Feinstein in Washington, DC, and in California, to negotiate legislative language to implement the settlement and address the concerns of other water interests who were not parties to the settlement. A much larger group of water users participated in these discussions. Thanks to the hard work of Senator Feinstein, after several intense weeks of talks, a consensus bill was produced that all sides agreed to support.  

But all of the interested stakeholders took another step to keep this agreement intact. NRDC, along with nearly every major group of agricultural water districts south of the Delta, signed a written agreement, which is often referred to as the “blood oath”.  That agreement didn’t just pledge support for the settlement and the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act. In addition, all of the signatories pledged “to oppose any amendments to said Legislation that are not agreed to by all the organizations listed below.”  H.R. 1837 clearly includes such amendments.

This is one of many reasons why it will be interesting to see what position water users take on H.R. 1837. After all, water users pledged to fight legislation to interfere with the settlement. If any of those water users won’t oppose a bill designed to repeal the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, it would severely damage their credibility in negotiations regarding an ambitious plan for the Bay-Delta.  After all, if water users don’t honor a written agreement on the San Joaquin, why would anyone believe that they would honor one on the Bay-Delta?


Barry Nelson is a Senior Water Policy Analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Why do people keep voting for Nunes?

Currently reading Rajan and Zingales's recent book. In the context of Ferdinand Lundberg's exhaustive discussion of the vices of the American Elite, and the infinite stupidity of the public that supports them, Rajan and Zingales provide a focused contrast on the difference between what could be and what is. Puck certainly had us pegged.

Why indeed. That's the million dollar question. I talked with a tea party type that lives in his district and he could not be more effusive in his praise for the guy...all of which was based on EXACTLY the image and "brand" he's so disingenuously sold to his constituents(it goes without saying there was also a deep lack of understanding of the issues...which is also a quality of Nunes).

I think he's effectively tapped into the deep seeded paranoia and ignorance of today's far right base. A base that has been shaped and manipulated by the most coordinated propaganda campaign in history for over 30 years now (i.e. right wing radio, Fox News, corporate funded think tanks, christian fundamentalists, the GOP, etc.). Nunes understands exactly how to con this demographic by playing (usually through fear) up and to a lot of these "manufactured" beliefs and prejudices...when in reality he's just serving the interests of the corporate aristocracy.

As for the real world consequences of having such two faced, deeply ignorant, and extreme right wing legislators (essentially acting as corporate lobbyists) in Congress, Nunes has been advocating in favor of not raising the debt ceiling (while demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of even what it is and how it functions), he also defended and legitimized the worst of the violent/racist rhetoric coming from those on the fringe right in the past couple of years - such as those that brought guns to town halls and carried racist anti-Obama signs - by not only refusing to denounce them, but by saying that their actions were the fault of those trying to improve health care (whether you agree with the plan, that was the intent).

He's also on record supporting the complete end of unions, abolishing Medicare, privatizing social security, and the list simply goes on and on.

And one last thing...he's also one of those supposedly "small government" "pro constitution" conservatives (when it comes to govt regulating corporations or protecting the commons) that somehow views things like the public option and prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation as a grave threat to civil liberties and freedom (and just about any other effort to improve regular peoples lives)...


...supporting things like the Patriot Act becoming permanent, warrantless wiretaps, the criminalization of abortion, Constitutional Amendments banning same-sex marriage and burning of the flag, and ALL CORPORATE "free trade" agreements that undercut American sovereignty over economic/foreign policy, depress wages for American workers, destroy our country's manufacturing base by outsourcing jobs and industries, explode our trade deficit, and pollute the environment.

How is any of that "pro constitution"? Pro civil liberties? Even "Pro American" he so likes to advertise?

So let's see...he's dishonest, a hypocrite, clueless on the issues, a corporate lobbyist and propagandist (when wondering how Nunes will vote on any particular legislation just ask "What do corporations want"?), and way, way outside the mainstream on issue after issue that directly effects the lives of everyday Americans.

I guess it really does beg the question: why do people still vote for this guy?

it is not reason that carries the prize, but eloquence; and no man need despair of gaining proselytes to the most extravagant hypothesis, who has art enough . . .


It is not reason, but emotion and belief that rule the world.