While the East Coast and Midwest suffer through a cold and snow-heavy winter, the people of California are in the midst of a drought — and a particularly bad one, even for a state that has regular battles with droughts over the course of my lifetime. Most people don’t recall this, but those of us who grew up with gas rationing in the Golden State during the energy crises of the 1970s also grew up with water rationing, too — including odd/even days for watering lawns and gardens, and request-only glasses of water in restaurants. Most of Southern California would naturally be a desert if it wasn’t for water management even in the best of years, and the Central Valley would never have become an agricultural powerhouse without it.
Yesterday, Barack Obama came to California’s Central Valley to declare that global warming is what has made the drought so difficult for farmers there:
Actually, the problem for Central Valley farmers is that their water got taken from them by a federal judge, who put a baitfish ahead of human beings. Central Valley’s water-management system was designed to deal with droughts that last as long as five years, but the reservoirs that held its lifeblood got emptied into the ocean to rescue the Delta smelt. It began five years ago, and as Investors Business Daily reports, the locals remember it better than Obama does:
The one thing that will mitigate droughts in California — a permanent feature of the state — is to restore the water flow from California’s water-heavy north to farmers in the central and south. That’s just what House Bill 3964, which passed by a 229-191 vote last week, does.
But Obama’s plan is not to get that worthy bill through the Senate (where Democrats are holding it up) but to shovel pork to environmental activists and their victims, insultingly offering out-of-work farmers a “summer meal plan” in his package.
“We are not interested in welfare; we want water,” Nunes told IBD this week. He and his fellow legislator Valadao are both farmers who represent the worst-hit regions of the Central Valley in Congress and can only look at the president’s approach with disbelief.
“He’s not addressing the situation,” Valadao told us.
“They want to blame the drought for the lack of water, but they wasted water for the past five years,” said Nunes.
The two explain that California’s system of aqueducts and storage tanks was designed long ago to take advantage of rain and mountain runoff from wet years and store it for use in dry years. But it’s now inactive — by design. “California’s forefathers built a system (of aqueducts and storage facilities) designed to withstand five years of drought,” said Nunes.
“We have infrastructure dating from the 1960s for transporting water, but by the 1990s the policies had changed,” said Valadao.
Environmental special interests managed to dismantle the system by diverting water meant for farms to pet projects, such as saving delta smelt, a baitfish. That move forced the flushing of 3 million acre-feet of water originally slated for the Central Valley into the ocean over the past five years.
In fact, Obama threatened to veto a bill that would have resolved this situation almost exactly two years ago. Instead, Obama insisted that the environmentalists needed to keep channeling water away from this rich agricultural resource and from the farmers who had worked it for generations, thanks to their own engineering genius at defeating droughts, to pour that water into the Pacific Ocean instead.
This isn’t global warming. It’s what happens when you stop irrigating land by purposefully taking water away. That buck stops at the podium Obama used to blame Gaia and carbon for his own sins of commission and omission.
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