A Federal Response to the Drought – Three Bills Pending in Congress

August/September 2015

California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Volume 25, Number 11

Three drought-related bills are currently pending in the current 114th Congress, each with wildly varying methods to address impacts of the drought. The first Senate Bill 1894, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015, introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein (S 1894). The Second is Senate Bill 1837, the Drought Recovery and Resiliency Act, by Senator Barbara Boxer (S 1837). The third is a House of Representatives bill 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, introduced by Representative David Valadao and co-sponsored by Democrat Jim Costa of the 16th District (HR 2898). While the bills leverage negotiations conducted in 2014, significant hurdles to reaching a deal remain. Key points of difference include whether the scope of federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) should be reduced, whether funds should be used to increase water storage or encourage efficiency of existing use, and whether the San Joaquin River Restoration Agreement should be repealed.

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