Friday, July 17, 2015

The GOP Just Took Its Latest Vote to Weaken Environmental Regulations. Which 5 Dems Joined?

Yesterday, the House passed the Western Water and American Food Security Act, a Republican bill aimed at the California drought.

"Let me guess. This bill just ends up weakening environmental regulations," you might say. And you'd be right.

Here is what the bill would do:
The bill modifies the current water allocation practices intended to increase the availability of water to farmers and communities in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley.

While the bill allocates water for agricultural purposes, it changes protections in the Endangered Species Act that currently protect non-endangered species.  H.R. 2898 calls for the redistribution of limited water supplies to large industrial farming operations in Central and Southern California, which could impact the West Coast salmon fishery.
H.R. 2898 would make changes to the Water Supply Permitting Act by creating a permitting office run by the Bureau of Reclamation to streamline the process for the construction of expanded surface water storage, while weakening the environmental review process. Under current law, the environmental impacts of projects funded with federal dollars must be fully analyzed, including requiring that other financial and environmentally feasible alternatives are reviewed.
Lastly, H.R. 2898 would supersede state law by elevating the water rights for certain agricultural contactors over existing water rights that benefit refuges and wildlife areas.
As you can also see, Republicans only care about "states' rights" when doing so advances other goals. The bill passed 245 to 176.

One Republican voted against it: Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05).

And five Democrats broke ranks to support it:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)
David Scott (GA-13)

Before taking the final vote, the House defeated two Democratic amendments.

John Garamendi (CA-03) offered an amendment to insert the language "collaborate with the California Department of Water Resources to install a fish screen at the Delta Cross Channel Gates in coordination with operations to protect migrating smelt and salmonids."

It failed 182 to 236.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in voting for it: Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Richard Hanna (NY-22).

Raul Grijalva (AZ-03) offered an amendment  to fund water reclamation programs and water reuse projects so that the Bureau of Reclamation may investigate more opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewater and naturally impaired ground and surface water in the 17 Western states and Hawaii.

It failed 179 to 242.

One Republican--Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)--joined Democrats in voting for it.

Four Democrats joined the GOP in voting against it:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)

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