Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) is touting his success in fighting for water in the Central Valley, releasing a letter Friday from the Trump administration to the State of California criticising the new Bay-Delta plan.
The Oct. 31 letter, from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), appears to reverse the Obama administration’s support for the plan, which would require the tributaries of the San Joaquin River to average 40% “unimpeded flow” during the spring, taking water from farmers.
Wheeler expresses concern about the scientific assumptions of the plan: “For example, the EPA is aware of recent scientific analyses suggesting that the volume of flow in the Bay-Delta most likely will not overcome other limitations within the system, such that the proposed Bay-Delta Plan may not achieve the board’s fish population goals.”
While the state, and environmental groups, believe that higher water flows will revive fish population, Central Valley authorities point to scientific research that suggests the present of non-native predator species is a greater factor in the disappearance of local fish populations.
Wheeler also cites the potential of the plan to “conflict with federal law.” Denham has argued that Wheeler has the authority to block the new plan under the Clean Water Act’s scientific standards.
On Friday, Denham cited Wheeler’s letter as a victory. “I’m pulling every available resource to stop the state’s dangerous water grab,” he said in a press statement. “Both the Department of Interior and EPA have now directly weighed in against Sacramento’s plan to steal our water.”
Denham’s Democratic opponent in the 10th congressional district race on Tuesday, Josh Harder, also opposes the Bay-Delta plan but did not participate in a bipartisan protest in Sacramento against the plan in August.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.