Congressman Jeff Denham is continuing his fight against the State of California’s bid to flush even more water out to the San Francisco Bay from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.
And he’s leaning on some friends in high places that may have the ability to step in and stop what is being called California’s “water grab.”
On Thursday Denham – who is locked into a fierce reelection battle against upstart Democrat Josh Harder – welcomed the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, to the Central Valley where he detailed what he believes would the devastating consequences of the state’s Bay-Delta Plan.
“I’m fighting to protect the Central Valley from Sacramento’s water grab and save our farms and communities,” Denham said in a statement. “I will continue to bring the administration here to see firsthand the damage this plan would have.”
Thursday’s visit by Wheeler marked the third time that a high-ranking member of the Trump administration has visited Denham’s district to examine the issue that he has made a focal point. Denham welcomed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to the 10th District back in July, where he gave him tours of both New Melones and Don Pedro Reservoirs – two bodies of water that would be greatly impacted if the State of California’s plan to double the amount of water down the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus Rivers goes through – and brought him to speak with farmers who fear that their longtime supply of water will dry up.
The following month he welcomed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to the district and hosted a pair of impromptu town halls where farmers and constituents could interact with the Cabinet-level visitor.
So far Denham has garnered the support of a large contingent of the California Republican Congressional Delegation in voicing opposition to the proposal, and he believes that Wheeler’s visit could be more than fruitful.
In a release distributed by his office, Denham noted that the EPA has the authority under the Clean Water Act to stop the plan because it “fails to meet the Clean Water Act’s ‘sound, rigorous’ science standards for flow criteria.” Last month Denham was a signer on a letter along with Representatives Jim Costa and Tom McClintock asking the EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act’s requirements.
“EPA is working closely with California’s farmers and landowners to help protect their valuable water resources and provide them greater certainty with respect to where federal jurisdiction begins and ends,” said Acting Administrator Wheeler. “Hearing directly from Californians and our Region 9 EPA staff is vital to our efforts to protect the public health environment, and natural resources of this unique and beautiful region of our country.”
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