Herger gets it right

But then blows it with phony anti-ESA slam

Last week, in his guest comment on this page, Aqualliance water-policy analyst Jim Brobeck wrote about the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (HR 1837). That’s a bill by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and two other San Joaquin Valley Republican congressmen that would clear the way to ship more Northern California water south by, among other things, abolishing policies meant to protect Northern Californians’ senior water rights.

Brobeck called on local Reps. Wally Herger and Tom McClintock to “join with Northern California politicians of all stripes to oppose this water heist.”

We’re happy to report that Herger and McClintock have said they will oppose HR 1837. As Herger put it in a press release, “California’s area of origin protections are clear and unambiguous—our water needs must be met first, before excess water is allowed to flow south.”

But Herger also made a point of stating that he agreed “with Congressman Nunes’ desire to address the [Endangered Species Act]-driven water shortages that have needlessly devastated family farmers and the economy of rural California.” That’s when his otherwise reasonable policy statement veered right off the cliff.

The ESA wasn’t responsible for the water shortages in 2008 through 2010; a prolonged drought was the culprit. Even so, San Joaquin Valley farm sales stayed high throughout the dry spell. The economy of rural California was not devastated. And this year, a wet one, farmers are getting plenty of water—despite the fact that the ESA is still solidly in place.

We applaud Rep. Herger for protecting Sacramento Valley water rights. That’s what we elected him to do. If he wants to reform or abolish the ESA, however, he should do so conscientiously, by offering a thoughtful critique of the act. Otherwise he’s just taking cheap shots and parroting the party line.