Senator Dianne Feinstein overcame environmentalists’ objections and Republicans’ skepticism in pushing through a drought-relief bill that could ship more water to farms and cities and weaken protections for fish. Welcoming passage of a U.S. Senate bill to address water problems caused by the severe California drought, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger urged congressional leaders to immediately begin negotiations to reconcile the bill with legislation passed earlier by the House of Representatives.
“Now, the real work begins,” Wenger said. “Water shortages are causing widespread suffering for California family farmers and those who depend on them for jobs and environmental stewardship. Now that each house has passed drought measures, we need to meld the two in ways that provide the swiftest, most effective relief possible.”
The Emergency Drought Relief Act won unanimous support in the Senate. California Senator Dianne Feinstein described the legislation as just the first step, and said: “The next step is working with the House to determine what measures we can agree on to improve water supplies. My hope is that this process can proceed quickly and bypass many of the controversial issues that have been raised in the past.”
As of last week, severe drought officially covered every inch of California, setting up “unprecedented” fire conditions in several areas. The extreme drought and heat have depleted reservoirs and even aquifers, increasing the state’s chance of earthquakes, as a new Nature Study found. More than 20,000 residents had fled their homes from fires in Southern California last week.