September 2019

Senate Bill 1 Remains Flawed and Irresponsible 

Few issues are as essential as a safe, reliable and affordable supply of water for California residents, farms and business. Plentiful supplies are especially important in an environment of climate change and increasing water scarcity in the Golden State. So why are Sacramento politicians playing games with critical water supplies? Recent amendments to SB 1 fall far short of addressing legitimate concerns.

Key democratic policymakers who have been working on water issues at the national level for decades are asking the same questions. Senator Feinstein and Congressmen Garamendi and Costa have jointly weighed in with major concerns about preventing incorporation of the latest science in important fishery and water decisions.  They are joined by state legislators including Adam Gray, Melissa Hurtado and Anna Caballero who are concerned about the policy and water supply impacts.

“Environmental groups cannot have it both ways and rely on new science when they like the outcome. . . but refute it when they don’t like the new results.”

  —  Senator Anna Caballero, Modesto Bee, September 10, 2019

Limiting consideration of the latest science flies in the face of the very environmental laws proponents claim they are trying to protect. Most state and federal laws require reliance on “best available science” which remains directly at odds with Senate Bill 1.

This high-stakes legislation will undermine efforts to secure funding and other commitments to protect wildlife and ecosystems as well as critical scientific research backed by a coalition of farmers, non-profits, conservation groups and federal, state and local agencies. State and federal agencies, along with water users, have spent millions of dollars to improve the scientific understanding of the state’s most sensitive watersheds. These developments along with lessons learned during the drought have taught water managers that additional flexibility is crucial to adapt in real time to the challenges and opportunities mother nature throws our way. SB 1 is a step backwards and is contrary to Governor Gavin Newsom’s efforts to develop a Water Resilience Portfolio that embraces innovation and encourages regional approaches while integrating investments, policies and programs across state government.

Our elected officials in Sacramento should quit playing politics and focus on science-based environmental policy.  If not, Governor Newsom should be prepared to veto the measure.