Climate Disaster Previewed With California Water War In US Congress
A local water war took over the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, with congressional districts along the Sacramento River fighting over the dwindling flow of the waterway. Republicans upstream gathered allies in their party in demanding that water be kept in reservoirs for farmers in their districts to use, while Democrats downstream gathered allies in their party to demand that what water remains be allowed to trickle down to be used by farmers in their districts.
The two sides were battling over the Western Water and American Food Security Act, a bill that favors upstream farmers over farmers and fishermen downstream. The bill passed the House yesterday, but will be vetoed by the Obama Administration even if it passes the Senate.
The partisan nature of this conflict over water was exhibited when only two Republicans broke ranks to vote for an amendment from John Garamendi to the bill. Garamendi’s amendment would have installed a virtual water screen to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species in the Sacramento River delta. No rational reason for opposing this amendment was offered. The upstream Republicans simply seemed opposed to any measure offered by downstream Democrats, regardless of its content.
Climatologists predict that the U.S. Southwest, including California, will see many more severe droughts in years to come as a result of regional impacts of global climate change caused by the still-increasing release of greenhouse gases from human activities. Instead of fighting over the shrinking resources that remain, legislators in Congress ought to be working together to deal with climate change, the root cause of the increased frequency of severe drought in the Southwest.