Despite Veto Threat, House Passes Spending Bill Terminating CVPIA Environmental Restoration Program

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. | 

By Dan Bacher | 

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on October 26 passed H.R. 4394, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, that terminates the environmental restoration provisions of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) that made fish and wildlife a purpose of the Central Valley Project for the first time in history.

“Within hours of taking up the gavel, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Michael Johnson, brought it down on a bill that would gut California’s fisheries and wipe out a thirty-year old  program to repair environmental damage caused by the massive Central Valley Project,” the Hoopa Valley Tribe on the Trinity River wrote in a press statement responding to the bill's passage.

The measure was approved by the House with a vote of 210 to 199. The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies bill provides $56.958 billion in discretionary spending, $2.963 billion below the FY24 President’s Budget Request.

The bill provides $32.513 billion in defense spending, an increase of $1.113 billion above the FY23 enacted level, and provides $24.445 billion in non-defense spending, a decrease of $857 million below the FY23 enacted level and $2.63 billion below the President’s Budget Request.

Buried in the 100-page bill are eight lines written by Representative David Valadao (R-CA-22)  and co-sponsored by eleven other California Republicans, including Speaker Johnson’s  predecessor, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20), the Tribe reported.

They order the Secretary of the Interior to “deem  complete the fish, wildlife, and habitat mitigation and restoration actions” required by the 1992  Central Valley Project Improvement Act (PL-102-575 Title XXXIV) signed into law by President  George H.W. Bush.

The bill mandated the restoration of anadromous fish populations, including fall, winter, spring and late fall-run Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, lamprey eel, and others, to historical levels by 2002. 

Instead, Central Valley and Trinity River fish populations have have been driven by closer and closer to extinction by the state and federal governments, largely due to the massive pumping of subsidized water to corporate agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley, including the Westlands Water District and Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of the Wonderful Company, for decades.

“This bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to lie to the Nation,” said Hoopa Valley Tribal  Chairman Joe Davis. “Our fishery isn’t restored; it hangs in the balance. Sponsors of this  legislation know that.”

This year’s harvest allocation of Klamath-Trinity River fall chinook  salmon was 374 fish for nearly 3,600 HVT members; and at least one species, coho salmon, is  listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  

“The Central Valley Project devastated the Trinity River fishery that has been important to the  survival of our people since time immemorial,” said Vice Chairman Everett Colegrove.

“These lawmakers -- and the Central Valley agri-business corporations that support them --  would leave us a few hundred fish annually; that cannot possibly support the Hupa people,” stated Hupa Fisheries Director Michael Orcutt.

“This bill is a moral outrage. It betrays laws and policies established to protect the Hupa people  and the well-being of all Californians,” added Hoopa Valley Tribal Council Member Isaac Bussell.  

“On October 3, the Biden Administration told Congress that the President would veto this  legislation if it reached his desk,” said Hoopa Valley Tribal Council Member Daniel Jordan.   

Chairman Davis concluded, “We take the President at his word; and we will work with California Senators Alex Padilla and  Laphonza Butler, and our Congressman, Jared Huffman (D-CA-2) to strike this untrue language  from the legislation and ensure that our fishery is restored.”

A summary of H.R.. 4394 can be found here:

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