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Senator Hollingsworth, Republicans call for appeal on water restrictions

SACRAMENTO — Last week, Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) and 27 Republicans sent a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, urging him to call upon the President and the Secretary of the Interior to convene the Endangered Species Committee. The letter requests an appeal of water restrictions on California as mandated by federal court rulings to protect the Delta smelt.

“Every drop of water is a valuable commodity in California and it is crucial that we protect what little we have,” stated Senator Hollingsworth. “We are not only facing a natural drought, but one that is court-imposed, which will only worsen our current economic situation and impact many California communities and farmers who are already facing severe water restrictions.”

Under the provisions of a 1978 amendment of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a committee comprised of seven Cabinet level members called the Endangered Species Committee can be convened to hear exemptions from the ESA’s stringent provisions. The plea to lift the water restrictions complies with the exemption requirements, in that there is no reasonable alternative to the agencies’ action and that the action is of extraordinary regional importance. The Governor is the only non-federal official who can request the Committee be convened to relax the regulations.

Following two years of drought and the current dismal snowpack, California’s water reserves have become dangerously low and the court-ordered water delivery restrictions have diminished supplies from the state’s two largest water systems by almost 30 percent.

“The Governor has wisely directed state agencies and departments to take immediate action to address the serious drought conditions that exist in California,” concluded Hollingsworth. “Republicans in the Legislature are hopeful he will take further action and request that the federal government intervene on our behalf as well.”


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