US Senator Dianne Feinstein wants to suspend federal environmental regulations that protect the fragile Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta in order to dramatically increase water subsidies to California agribusinesses that grow water-intensive crops in the desert. According to the Chron, Feinstein is attempting to rush her proposal through Congress by attaching it to the federal jobs bill. Feinstein’s maneuver also coincides with news that the state’s salmon season is doomed for yet another year because of a major collapse of the fishery, mostly due to the lack of water in the Delta, according to the CoCo Times.
Feinstein’s gambit on behalf of big agribusiness also comes before a panel from the National Academy of Sciences has had a chance to finish its study of the Delta and California’s water issues. Feinstein had requested the study last fall at the behest of one of her biggest donors, Stewart Resnick, who grows citrus and nuts in the dry southern Central Valley. Resnick requested the study in the hopes that it would result in increased water diversions for farming, despite ample scientific evidence that using water for water-intensive agriculture over the years has ruined the Delta.
Many Central Valley farmers have blamed record unemployment in recent years on environmental regulations that protect the Delta. But farmers and big agribusiness have ignored the fact that three years of drought is likely the main reason for why their cropland has not received enough water — and for why fisheries are also collapsing in the Delta despite the environmental protections.