No Exceptions to the Endangered Species Act

It was a compelling scene: Rep Dennis Cardoza and Rep. Devin Nunes brought in a bowl of 3″ long smelt and pictures of unemployed farm workers and their families to a House Natural Resources Committee meeting.  They were hoping to provide an effective contrast and convince their colleagues to make an emergency exemption to the Endangered Species Act.

The state is in the third year of a drought and it has gotten so bad that in order to protect a federally endangered species a federal judge in 2007 ordered the state and feds to cut down on the amount of water pumped through the delta to save the smelt.

This is not simply about a species of little fish.  The smelt, as Kevin Freking at the AP writes “a bellwether for the health of the delta, the heart of California’s water-delivery system.”  More from the article:

With that, he offered to submit a fishbowl filled with nine minnows for the Congressional Record. The fish were rainbow smelt, not the endangered delta smelt, which are illegal to possess without a permit.

Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Norwalk, responded by asking him to take the plastic wrap off the bowl so the fish could get some air, which Nunes did. Napolitano served as chairwoman for Tuesday’s hearing.

I can’t just picture that scene in my head. Can’t you?

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said some of the lawmakers were “cherry picking history” and ignoring that water has been pumped into the valley at rates that exceeded what was appropriate.

That’s one of the reasons the judge ordered state and federal wildlife agencies to revise how much water should be pumped out of the delta. Most of the pumping occurs from late spring through summer.

“The judge had no choice because the system was run right down to the margins where in fact he did kick in the protections of the Endangered Species Act,” Miller said.

We have lacked a sensible water plan for decades.  To allow more pumping risks devastating the entire ecosystem.  It is not about just a couple of little fish in a bowl.

The farm workers are devastated right now with the cutbacks to water supplies, but we need long term solutions, not short term actions that cause irreconcilable harm.

2 thoughts on “No Exceptions to the Endangered Species Act”

  1. ….question:

    Can humanity survive?

    Read ‘Collapse’ by Jared Diamond and meditate on what the Easter Islander who was cutting down the last tree on the island, the lack of which reduced the population to cannibalism and worse…., said to his pal who was watching…. I think it went something like this:

    ‘Dude! I got it! I got the last one. This is soooo cool!’


    I’ll be dead before the shit really hits the fan. If you are under 30 get ready for your future. Rent ‘Soylent Green’ and have a house party with yer hip friends. I wouldn’t wanna be you for all the money Bernie stole.

  2. Where to start beyond the fact this Rep. Nunes is a buffoon and an embarrassment. Visalia? Really? Hey numbnuts, crying like a baby with all your corporate farming welfare pals is somehow justice. You a-holes helped ruin the ecosystem through greed, avarice and a complete disregard for anything beyond your own narrow special interest. Newsflash! The desert that is the Central Valley ain’t Nebraska or Arkansas! It doesn’t rain EVER, yet you idjits cajoled a plan to suck water in grossly excessive amounts to where it doesn’t belong to artificially sustain an economy. Let’s not even get into the fact once all the water got to where you are you had no plan what to do with the drainage. And screw Bureau of Rec, they never were going to build your fantasy pipeline to the sea………So what did you do? You dumped the toxic soup in a bird refuge and contributed to countless deaths and deformities…..Kesterson…….look it up….Felix Smith former federale helped blow the whistle….

    Oh, but when somebody steps in and says hey guys, you are kinda like, you know, breaking the law by slaughtering fish wholesale in the Delta, dolts like Radanovich and his ilk respond with………..wait for it………………Suspend the law!! Uh, sorry I was driving drunk officer, but can you suspend the law for me? See, I’m economically depressed.  George Miller, you should have punked these stooges for all they’re worth….you too, NRDC………….

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