Key Vote letter supporting H.R. 1837, the “San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act”
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, supports H.R. 1837, the “San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act,” which would restore the important balance between protection of endangered species and the demand for an adequate supply of water.
Water is the most essential element to life on earth and an economic driver for strengthening our economy and keeping our communities vibrant and healthy. In the San Joaquin Valley, a multi-year fight over the proper level of Endangered Species Act protections for the 3-inch Delta smelt has inflicted significant economic damage on the farmers responsible for growing the majority of the nation’s fruits and vegetables. The Chamber recognizes the need to protect species that are threatened with extinction, but this protection must be done in a reasonable manner and must not be used to unnecessarily impede development of lands and natural resources. Unfortunately, in the San Joaquin Valley, that is precisely what has occurred.
Agriculture is the number one industry in the San Joaquin Valley, accounting for $26 billion in total sales. Despite a 17 percent regional unemployment rate, farmers in the San Joaquin Valley continue to face Federally-imposed water pumping restrictions that curtail their water deliveries. These restrictions have had a severe impact on local business. In 2010, Delta smelt and salmon protections caused the loss of over one million acre feet of water, costing the region thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of acres of arable land.
H.R. 1837 would restore water deliveries to communities by codifying the historic, bipartisan “Bay-Delta Accord,” a water agreement entered into by the State of California, the Federal government, water agencies, and environmental organizations. By unlocking 1.4 million acre-feet of water, H.R. 1837 would create 30,000 direct jobs. The bill would ensure a reliable water supply for people and fish, secure water rights, and save taxpayer money. Lastly, it would streamline environmental regulatory processes to speed up water reliability projects and transfers.
The U.S. Chamber urges you to support H.R. 1837. The Chamber may consider including votes on, or in relation to, this legislation in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten