The Politics Of Drought
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Climate change is not to blame; leftist environmental policies are.
Radical Environmentalism In California
California already has some of the most extremist environmental policies in the nation. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulates the amount of emissions permitted for our vehicles. CARB routinely wreaks havoc on California's transportation industries, which is no small problem for the state, given that we have two major ports, with trucks traveling Interstate 5 and 40 pretty much constantly. Here in Kern County, we routinely have some of the most polluted towns in the nation - not because we're producing so much pollution ourselves, but because, thanks to the geography here in the San Joaquin Valley, smog from Los Angeles and San Francisco settles here at the valley's southern end...and yet, every year, our county faces the threat of massive fines from the state and federal government if we meet state and federal standards for air quality. Here in the Valley, we even have an agency that regulates when we can and can't burn wood in our fireplaces.
Our problems with the drought actually began long before Governor Brown finally issued his disaster declaration, and it had much less to do with a lack of rainfall than it did with California's history of environmental radicalism.
One of the things that the state of California has actually done right is to design and build a system to distribute water throughout the state. Water is brought down from Northern California, where they tend to have an over-abundance, to the Central and Southern parts of the state, where we don't get as much rainfall. Several years ago, Northern California environmentalists got their panties in a bunch over a supposedly endangered minnow known as the "Delta Smelt," named thus because it is indigenous to the Sacramento Delta. Because this fish was allegedly being killed in the pumps that supply water to towns, cities, and farms in the San Joaquin Valley, the pumps were shut off to save the poor fish, and a state-mandated drought ensued. Thanks to the state-mandated drought, the San Joaquin Valley has not received the water that we bought and paid for - it was simply flushed out into the ocean - so we have been unable to store water in preparation for the natural drought that we face today.
This is a problem that reaches far beyond California for a multitude of reasons, perhaps the biggest of which is that California's agriculture industry produces food that goes all across our nation, and around the world. If farmers in this valley cannot grow their crops, the repercussions will be felt across the nation, as people will have to pay higher prices for their food. Instead of exporting food to nations around the world, we will have to import more food, making us more dependent on other nations to feed ourselves, and hoping that their quality and safety standards will not put us at risk.
In his speech, President Obama laid out a three-part agenda to confront California's water problems. The first two parts involved throwing money at the issue, first through government loans to farmers and ranchers, and the second through government handouts from the recently-signed Farm Bill. The third part involved an increased focus on the president's radical environmental agenda. Maybe he should start combating climate change by shortening his speeches - for all of his talk, none of his solutions will actually fix the problem, so all his words add up to is a lot of hot air.
After Governor Brown made his disaster declaration, Republican congressmen, including House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy from Bakersfield, took action and authored a bill to provide drought relief to California's agriculture industry. Governor Brown, who had been calling on the federal government for assistance, swiftly reacted to this bill by calling it "divisive," which makes one wonder why the governor was reaching out to the federal government for help if he really didn't want it. The bill was passed quickly by the House, and was then swiftly ignored by the Senate, where radical leftist senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein are working on their own legislation. The main difference: like President Obama's proposals, the Boxer/Feinstein bill hinges almost entirely on radical environmentalism.
Our agriculture is already struggling, so if your food prices are on the rise, thank California's environmentalists. We face the risk of wildfires every summer, thanks to environmentalists stopping our forest services from clearing out underbrush that makes those summer fires bigger and tougher for fire fighters to contain and put out. With the spread of the drought and its extremity, expect to see California burn again this summer, with fires starting earlier and more widespread than in past years.
But as your pocketbook gets lighter at the supermarket and California burns, take refuge in the fact that our president threw some money at the problem, then went off to play golf.
Robert Cleveland, Senior Conservative Editor: Robert Cleveland is the IT Director for a document management services company. When he isn't working on computers and scanners, he's spending time with his wife and kids, or writing about just how jacked-up Washington politics is. He is a strong believer that hard work and freedom are what make America the greatest nation on the planet, and it is of the utmost importance that we never lose those values. Robert's other writing can be found at his blog, more...)