Bishop: California Democrats Amplify Effects of Drought

In a National Review op-ed, Rep. Rob Bishop says leftist environmental policies have driven the effects of the California drought from bad to catastrophic.

Writes Bishop:

Despite the natural drought, big-money, agenda-driven environmental groups have put pressure on lawmakers and judges to divert billions of gallons of water away from communities that desperately need it, letting it run to the Pacific Ocean instead. Two major pumping stations that transferred water to communities in the San Joaquin Valley have been curtailed under the pretext of saving the three-inch Delta smelt. The Delta-smelt population has not increased while litigation and judicial rulings continue the status quo of flushing water toward the fish. Meanwhile, federal bureaucratic “paralysis by analysis” has stymied construction and improvement of dams, the primary means of capturing, storing, and distributing water throughout the west. Indeed, the last major federal dam built in California opened in 1979, and the bulk of the infrastructure connecting major population centers in the state was built a decade before.

The human consequences of these policies are appalling. Last year, the unemployment rate in Fresno County, an area among the worst in suffering from lack of water, was double the national average. Statewide, more than 400,000 acres of farmland were fallowed last year. This year, this number could be more than double that. California is home to industries ranging from oil to agriculture, from Silicon Valley to Hollywood. Its more than 77,000 farms and ranches export more than 400 agricultural commodities, worth tens of billions of dollars annually. These industries, like all human life, are ultimately sustained by water. Without water, crops cannot be grown, rural jobs and economies cannot be sustained, energy cannot be developed, and new technologies cannot be created. Leading U.S. demographer (and Californian) Joel Kotkin put it best when he recently wrote, “As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle and working classes.”