Monday, February 22, 2010

Fish or People?

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 7:05 AM

US Senator Dianne Feinstein's proposal to divert huge amounts of water to California agribusiness may end up hurting city dwellers more than fish in the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the CoCo Times reports. That's because California environmental laws might still protect the already devastated fish populations if Feinstein's proposal goes through, meaning that the extra water for agribusiness will have to taken from urban and suburban water users.

If that were to happen, anger about skyrocketing water bills from California residents could make Feinstein's proposal even more unpopular than it already is. Feinstein apparently is hoping that state officials will help her avoid that backlash by suspending California environmental laws and allowing the extra water for agribusiness to be taken from the Delta. Such a move would mean that the already decimated fish habitats in the Delta might be destroyed.

Feinstein made her proposal in response to complaints from farmers that grow water-intensive crops in the dry southern and western Central Valley. Those farmers blame their water shortage in recent years on environmental laws that protect the Delta — rather than the drought California has experienced since 2006.

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