Press Releases

Senator Feinstein Welcomes Obama Administration’s Plan to Move Forward with Independent Review of Delta Science and Address California’s Urgent Water Crisis

- Interior and Commerce Departments respond to Feinstein’s request to commission review of the two controversial biological opinions that govern water flows in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta -

Washington, DC – At a public forum today to address California’s water crisis, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) welcomed the Administration’s decision to commission an independent review of the biological opinions that govern water flows in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. The study will be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the nation’s most respected independent scientific body.

“The National Academy of Sciences study on the Delta biological opinions is a crucial step. I thank Secretaries Salazar and Locke for being open to a new, independent review,” Senator Feinstein said.

“The National Academy study will assess whether there are other ways to provide the same protections for endangered species, while supplying more water to the drought-stricken Central Valley. And it will put to rest any lingering questions about whether pumping restrictions in the Delta are based on the best available science. I will press the Administration to ensure that the study take no more than six months and that the agencies promptly respond with any scientifically appropriate adjustments to the pumping restrictions so that farmers can plan for the planting season.

We also need to fund the construction of the Two Gates project and the Intertie to bring some short-term relief, as well as facilitate more water transfers to address the emergency conditions of Central Valley farms. Meantime, the State Legislature and the Governor must come to agreement on a bond measure with a long-term plan for California that will restore the Delta, create additional storage, and build new conveyance.

California’s water situation is desperate. We’ve got to act fast, we’ve got act smart, and we’ve got to put aside the rhetoric and work together if we have any chance of solving this crisis.”

Today’s announcement from the Administration follows a request earlier this month by Senator Feinstein to the Departments of the Interior and Commerce for an independent evaluation of the biological opinions. The request for the National Academy study was also supported by Governor Schwarzenegger and Valley Representatives Costa, Cardoza, Radanovich, Nunes, and McCarthy.

Senator Feinstein chairs the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee and secured $750,000 in the Senate-approved Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010 (H.R. 2996) to fund the study.

The original request letter by Senator Feinstein (September 11), along with the response letter from Secretaries Salazar and Locke (September 30), are available on Senator Feinstein's website.


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