Harder Joins Central Valley Coalition in Urging Amendments to SB1

September 6, 2019
Press Release
Harder Pushing to Ensure a Pathway for Voluntary Settlement Agreements

Modesto, CA – Today U.S. Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) joined a coalition of Central Valley representatives in calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to amend California Senate Bill SB1 to preserve the viability of voluntary agreements for Central Valley farmers and water users across the state. In regards to this concern, Rep. Harder released the following statement.

“While I support the objectives of SB 1 - to protect clean air, water, and our environment and I applaud the leadership taken by the California State Senate – however, I’m very concerned SB1 as currently drafted could undermine the progress being made on voluntary settlement agreements. The agreement process is delicate, but it’s our best shot at getting everyone to the table and finding a workable solution.

“Our local farmers and water users have real concerns that this bill could hurt the incentive to continue voluntary settle negotiations and end up costing our communities in the Central Valley dearly. I hope to see SB 1 amended to ensure a viable path for voluntary settlement agreements.

“My job is to stand up for Central Valley water users, and I’m going to continue to fight every day to make sure our voices are heard.”

The letter was cosigned by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Representatives Jim Costa (CA-16), John Garamendi (CA-03), and TJ Cox (CA-21).

The text of the letter is below and an original copy is available here.

 

Dear Governor Newsom,

We applaud Senate President prop Tempore Atkins for protecting California’s environment against President Trump’s rollbacks of overarching federal regulations through SB1. However, we urge you to insist on two amendments to the bill, to preserve the viability of the potential voluntary agreements over proposed outflow requirements for the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers.

We oppose Section 3(c) of the bill as drafted, as it would prevent the State from incorporating the latest science and other information in permitting decisions. This provision would freeze in place the state and federal water project incidental take permits and biological opinions that were developed over 10 years ago, regardless of whether more recent science or other related policies such as outflow requirements suggest modifications to the permits (proposed new section 2076.7(c) of the Fish and Game Code). Without additional flexibility, this provision would severely restrict voluntary agreements whereby water users would support additional flows and habitat improvements for salmon and other imperiled fish in return for some level of water supply reliability.

We also oppose Section 2 of the bill that would require the Bureau of Reclamation to comply with the California Endangered Species Act. Given significant legal uncertainty over whether the State can modify the application of federal law, this provision would generate years of litigation and uncertainty over which environmental standards apply to the federal Central Valley Project. In the midst of such fundamental uncertainty, it will be impossible to develop any voluntary settlements of Sacramento and San Joaquin River outflow standards.

We believe that SB1, with amendments to address these two concerns, would achieve the goal of protecting California’s environment without jeopardizing voluntary settlements of outflow standards. We thank you for your continued leadership on environmental issues, and we appreciate your consideration of our request.

Issues: