Natures’ Drought, Policy Failure

Public leadership is mandated to protect against well-known natural events that threaten the public, but as it regards drought—or flooding—California and the federal government have failed horribly, as this article from the Sacramento Bee notes.

An excerpt.

Drought is a fact of life in California, which explains why so many politicians have been happy to blame nature and duck questions about what role their choices may have played in exacerbating the catastrophe now unfolding across the state.

We’ve had bad droughts before, but never quite like this.

For the first time in 54 years, the California Water Project forecasts “zero allocation” for agencies serving 25 million residents. That means scarcity and rationing are real prospects this summer. Barring a miracle, the effects – economic and political – would be felt well beyond our borders.

Let’s stipulate “government can’t make it rain.” While we’re at it, let’s enter that phrase into the Great Book of Clichés and banish it from public discourse forevermore.
Let’s also stipulate that government cannot make the trains run on time, or make you happy and wise – although, with the right connections, it can make you wealthy.

Might we further stipulate that if government can clean up after a natural disaster, it can also make a natural disaster worse? Judging from much of the indignant demagoguery emanating from Sacramento and Washington, D.C., this week, the answer appears to be a resounding “Yes.”

Republicans in Congress on Wednesday advanced House Bill 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, which passed largely along party lines. Only 10 House Democrats, including Fresno’s Jim Costa, voted for it.

The brainchild of California’s GOP delegation, the bill will almost certainly meet its demise in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where both Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have denounced the legislation as “divisive.” Feinstein even went so far as to call the bill “ugly” and “partisan.” A partisan piece of legislation debated in a political body. Imagine that.

What exactly would HB 3964 do? Simply stated, it would reallocate water controlled by the federal government from conservation and species protection to agriculture. In other words, it would put the needs of farmers above the needs of the Delta smelt.

Retrieved February 8, 2014 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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