Bera Introduces Bill to Block Federal Funding for BDCP

By Dan Bacher | September 10, 2014 | On September 9, Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07) introduced a bill with Congressmen Jerry McN...

By Dan Bacher | September 10, 2014 |

On September 9, Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07) introduced a bill with Congressmen Jerry McNerney (CA-09) and John Garamendi (CA-03) to block FY 2015 federal funds from being used for California’s controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels. 

The Brown administration has asked the federal government to contribute nearly $4 billion to help it implement the tunnel plan. 

"The BDCP is a flawed plan that does nothing to increase our water supply and only diverts more water from the Sacramento area to Southern California" said Bera. "Not only that, but it will cost taxpayers billions, and hurt countless farmers and small businesses in our region. We must stop this misguided plan and continue to fight for real bipartisan solutions to secure water access and storage throughout our state." 

“California’s woefully inadequate water infrastructure definitely needs more federal investment, but the twin tunnels are a boondoggle and poor use of taxpayer dollars," said Congressman Garamendi, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. "Investments in water conservation, recycling, and storage are needed across the state. Instead of reigniting the California water war, let’s build consensus and invest in the priorities that create more reliable water for the entire state. We can increase supply without destroying the Delta or undermining water rights." 

The BDCP includes a proposal for two 33 foot-wide, 35 mile-long tunnels that would divert 112,207 gallons of water per second from the Delta and send it south. Two weeks ago, the state delayed the plan’s implementation due to concerns about the economic and environmental impact of the tunnels, including the potential for more saltwater intrusion. 

Both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers raised objections to the BDCP’s assumptions and called for major changes to the plan. The state estimates the project would cost $25 billion, but analyses by independent groups show that the final expense could be more than $67 billion. 

The EPA diagnosis pointed out that operating the proposed conveyance facilities “would contribute to increased and persistent violations of water quality standards in the Delta, set under the Clean Water Act,” and that the tunnels “would not protect beneficial uses for aquatic life, thereby violating the Clean Water Act." (

It noted that the EIR/EIS “assumes a 100 percent success rate for habitat restoration, which is not consistent with our experience, or supported by restoration ecology and conservation biology academic literature and scientific investigation” and detailed the likelihood that proposed habitat restoration would exacerbate the production and transport of methylmercury.” 

The EPA also criticized the failure to analyze upstream/downstream impacts and observed that there is broad scientific agreement that “existing freshwater flow conditions in the San Francisco Estuary are insufficient to protect the aquatic ecosystem and multiple fish species, and that both increased freshwater flows and aquatic habitat restoration are needed to restore ecosystem processes in the Bay Delta and protect native and migratory fish populations.” 

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), said the Bay Delta Conservation Plan “was placed on life support” when the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that a revised EIR/EIS would be delayed until sometime in 2015. 

“BDCP’s friends and family anxiously expressed hope that an infusion of additional millions of dollars and months of treatment would enable the project to recover,” quipped Jennings. 

“However, the EPA comments coming on top of some 4,500 pages of searing reviews by municipalities, counties and water agencies that would be adversely impacted by the project, almost 2,000 pages of highly critical comments by environmental and fishing organizations, hundreds of pages of harsh analyses by government agencies and stinging comments from many thousands of California citizens reveal that BDCP is suffering from a congenital terminal illness. Additional delay is unlikely to improve BDCP’s prospects for survival,” said Jennings. 

The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the steelhead and salmon populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The project woul also take vast tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of production in order irrigate toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. 

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Anonymous said...

Dan Bacher, thanks for your vigilant journalism.
I was astonished by the opposition from EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Jerry Brown needs to find his legacy elsewhere.

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