By: John Loudon
On the list of insane public policy moves we have come to expect from the current administration, Cap and Tax, Obamacare and Union Card Check, a fourth has garnered relatively little attention, although the implications for all Americans may be among the most far-reaching. The recurring theme is centralized control.
On Monday, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will host a rare Congressional “Field Hearing“. A Congressional delegation will venture out of the beltway and actually devote time to a problem in our country. Better yet, they will be listening to real citizens. Sort of.
At issue is what residents are calling a government-made drought in the Central and San Joaquin Valleys of California. Legal and environmental regulations in the Endangered Species Act has resulted in the diversion of 200 billion gallons of water from the agricultural heartland of California into the Ocean. According to California farmer Rose Corona,
“Potentially over $20 billion of California’s $43 billion of agricultural revenue could be decimated in America’s greatest breadbasket as farmers lose their farms and residents are forced to import food from China. While the solutions are not simple, local government officials are not even able to attempt them.”
Two thirds of California’s water is in Northern California, but two thirds of the people live in Southern California. Over the last generation, a series of aquaducts and canals was built to divert some of the plentiful water in the North so that instead of raising the sea level (as Al Gore warns us is imminent) the fresh water will irrigate incredibly productive land. The five counties effected provide tens of thousands of jobs and a stunning $20 billion of food output.
So why would politicians in California, a state that is already bankrupt, do anything other that mount a united battle to find a solution? That is hard to say. Instead there are deep and often ugly divisions and battle lines such as radical environmentalist on one side and farmers and migrant workers on the other.
Officials are perplexed to find an explanation for the declining population of the delta smelt, a small bait fish. It is also true that the salmon industry is concerned. So it is understandable that regulators would force action. What is not understandable is why the game of man vs beast is tilted at every turn toward the beast.
Consider that the judicial solution holds that if the fish population is declining, we will leave more water in the river and see if that works. No one knows if it will. Maybe there is a chemical or biological explanation, but we will take a chance because the lives of fish are at stake.
So when a compromise solution is proposed, called the “Two Gates” project, that would restore water and possibly protect fish, the Obama administration’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salzar put the brakes on it. So we will experiment to put fish over people, but we will not experiment to put people over fish. How is that Hope and Change working for you?
As for the rest of us, the implications are huge, not just for our food bills, but for establishing the precedent of allowing the Federal government this level of control over water. When government takes your water, they take the value of your land nay, they steal the value of your land.