Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) waded into California water politics on Saturday, suggesting at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame that eating the three-inch Delta Smelt with “cheese and crackers” rather than allowing “out of control environmental policies” to kill California jobs, including those for Hispanic farm workers.
Cruz told a packed crowd at the lunch event:
“Now I’m sure it will drive our friends in the media crazy when I observe that in my experience, three-inch fish go great with cheese and crackers. But as a result of those policies, 1.4 trillion gallons of fresh water could provide for over 6 million Californians for six years. Over 17,000 farm jobs have been lost. Migrant farm workers, Hispanic workers have been thrown out of work because of the misguided regulations.”
Water is a major issue in the Golden State, as a drought exacerbated by environmental policies has drained valuable river waters for the sake of the three-inch Delta Smelt. It is a particularly important issue in the Central Valley’s dozen or so congressional districts, where polls show Cruz with a wide lead over his rivals.
“As Republicans in California, you are hearty bunch and you are used to adversity. You have seen first hand the absolute disaster, the absolute train wreck that is out of control liberalism,” Cruz told the enthusiastic California crowd.
“You don’t have to look any further than out of control environmental policies that have resulted in, since 2008, 1.4 trillion gallons of fresh water being dumped into the Pacific Ocean because of a little three-inch bait fish.”
In an April 2015 video, California State Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) detailed the pain inflicted on farmers in the Central Valley over the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Litigation under lhat legislation forced the waters of the Sacramento and San Jouquin Rivers out to sea in the name of protecting the three-inch Delta Smelt. According to Grove’s video, 1.2 million acre feet of water was flushed out to sea from those rivers in 2015 alone. “That’s enough water for three million households and enough water to irrigate 600,000 acres of farmland,” the video argued.
Cruz suggested that there could rather be a win-win situation.
“We can actually protect the environment and protect jobs. For example, with endangered species, the Endangered Species Act shouldn’t be used as a cudgel to kill economic development. Instead, it should have a provision for mitigation that if you increase the population of the endangered species then you can go forward with the development.
“So for example, with the Delta Smelt, if you increase the population for fisheries, 20 percent, 30 percent, you ought to be able to go with sending that water on to farms and ranches and Californians who need it. That’s a win-win,” he told the conference.
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