Feds rush to ease Calif. drought
WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department on Tuesday offered new aid to water-starved California farmers, while lawmakers tussled over competing anti-drought proposals.
Underscoring how California's water crisis has reached a political boil, top federal and state officials jointly announced the relatively modest package of aid that features $20 million for agricultural water conservation efforts. Additional aid for California will be announced by the Forest Service on Thursday.
“This is really designed to pump resources into problem solving,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared. “We expect and anticipate that this is the first of a number of (aid) announcements.”
Accompanied by Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., Vilsack announced the funding for which California farmers can apply. Grants will be provided for projects that could include improving irrigation efficiency, planting cover crops and protecting grazing lands, among other efforts.
“While we're all praying for rain, we can use all the help we can get,” Costa said.
Officials opened the aid taps precisely as the Republican-controlled House prepared to approve on Wednesday an ambitious California water package tailored for Central Valley irrigation districts. The House bill authorizes several new dams, repeals a San Joaquin River restoration program and steers water from fish to farmers.
There's little doubt the House will approve the GOP water bill, introduced by freshman Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., and based largely on a controversial bill previously authored by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. There's also little doubt that key elements will subsequently sink in the Senate, where California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have vigorously denounced the House measure.
California Gov. Jerry Brown opposes the House bill as an “unwelcome and divisive intrusion.” At the same time, the House push has seemed to motivate senators and administration officials to bounce back with alternatives. It did not seem a coincidence that the Agriculture Department aid was announced on the eve of House action.
In a similar happenstance, top state and federal water officials set Wednesday for a Sacramento briefing on drought responses. A Feinstein bill is expected within days.
“You have to act,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said on Tuesday, as if addressing California's senators. “If you don't like the bill we send, then tell us what you do support so we can go to conference and get something done. But stop ignoring a problem.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Cleveland agrees to overhaul police under settlement with Justice Department
- More rain worsens flooding in Texas
- IRS says hackers stole tax info from 100,000
- Texas man charged with helping friend’s bid to join ISIS
- ‘Free-range’ parents cleared of neglect
- Airman kills 1 in North Dakota store
- Gouging rare in loans to troops
- Shootings, slayings surge during Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, Baltimore
- Oregon proposal would outlaw sneak photos up women’s skirts
- Patriot Act deal looks unlikely
- Amtrak cameras to view operators