In action Thursday, April 27, the House Natural Resources Committee approved legislation that would authorize a settlement agreement between the United States Department of the Interior and the Westlands Water District, which would, among other things, forgive debt accrued by the Westlands Water District and shift the oversight responsibility of the Westlands drainage plan from federal to state government.
In response, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) issued the following statement:
“Today I once again took a stand against the authorization of a settlement between the Westlands Water District and the Department of the Interior.
“This agreement fails to include key safeguards for the environment and lacks any substantial oversight mechanisms or enforceable milestones. Without specific requirements to monitor performance measurements, this settlement essentially forgives a significant debt without including the proper mitigation requirements to prevent further damage to California farmland and wildlife.
“The lack of transparency and public input has resulted in a bailout of the Westlands Water District that comes with a massive $350 million price tag, all at the expense of American taxpayers. Absolving California’s largest and extremely profitable water district of its obligations to the community sets a dangerous precedent for the future.”