02:00 PM

Nunes sells out California’s Bay Delta to Big Ag

New legislation would overthrow ongoing state and federal conservation efforts


  • HR 1837, introduced by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), would block protections for California’s declining Bay Delta by putting in place an outdated and discredited agreement that would overrule ongoing collaborative conservation efforts
  • HR 1837 undermines America’s commitment to good stewardship and discards sound science used to guide efforts to restore the Bay Delta and protect endangered species
  • HR 1837 caters to powerful agribusiness interests in the driest part of the state, ignoring the needs of thousands of fishermen and farmers that rely on the Bay Delta for their livelihood
WASHINGTON, D.C. (05/12/2011) -

Rep. Devin Nunes introduced a bill yesterday that would eliminate vital protections for California’s Bay Delta.

The following is a statement from Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:

“The Nunes bill is just the latest in a string of attacks from the most extreme in Congress aimed at undermining our nation’s commitment to protecting imperiled wildlife. Rep. Nunes seems bent on destroying the Bay Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast and an indispensable part of California’s natural heritage and economy, to benefit powerful south of Delta agribusiness corporations. His goal is to score cheap political points with his biggest campaign contributors while selling out those families that rely on a healthy Bay Delta as a source of food and income.

“Mr. Nunes claims he’s concerned about jobs in the Central Valley. But what about the thousands of fishermen who are out of work because of drought and increasing diversions from the Bay Delta? Last month, hundreds of Delta farmers and fishermen stood together in support of protecting the Bay Delta. Restoring natural flows to the Delta should be a top priority. Instead, myopic members of Congress are hoping to siphon even more water away from the Delta to send to powerful agribusinesses and municipal interests farther south.

“While some Washington politicians like Rep. Nunes think they know what’s best for California, they clearly have not been paying attention. For years, countless organizations and state and federal agencies within California have been working collaboratively to come up with a practical, science-based solution that balances water supply reliability and environmental protection.  We cannot allow years of work to go to waste. Members of Congress should not be able to discard sound science and overrule state and federal conservation efforts whenever it serves their political agenda.”


California’s Bay Delta ecosystem provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of income to the economy every year. Excessive withdrawals of water, mostly by agricultural interests, threaten fish species – including the Delta smelt, Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, and Central Valley steelhead – with extinction. Salmon numbers have dropped so low in recent years that California’s salmon fishery was closed completely in 2008 and 2009 for the first time in history.

A recent study by the University of the Pacific indicates that pumping restrictions have decreased employment in the Central Valley by less than two-tenths of a percent. At the same time, in Fresno County, the state’s top-producing agriculture county, the total number of farm jobs rose slightly last year. According to the latest report from the California Employment Development Department, statewide farm employment has increased since 2006, dipping slightly between 2008-2009 and rebounding in 2010.


Read the text of HR 1837

Learn more about where Nunes’ campaign contributions come from

Read more about what Defenders is doing to protect endangered species in California

Find California employment statistics

Read an economic analysis of the impacts of pumping restrictions on the San Joaquin Valley


John Motsinger, 202-772-0288