I have worked throughout my career on California water policy, serving as the Chair of the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee in Sacramento, and on the board of the Marin Municipal Water Board before that. California’s water story is one of feast or famine, with the state experiencing devastating floods following years of drought. This is made worse by a changing climate, which has reduced clean drinking water supplies, put pressure on food producers, driving iconic fish and wildlife to the brink of extinction, and threatened our tourism and recreation industries.
Water Infrastructure and Drought Resilience
As the chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee in the 116th Congress, I am working to provide a range of short- and long-term solutions to stretch water supplies and build new clean water infrastructure. In 2015, I introduced comprehensive drought response legislation, a range of short- and long-term solutions to stretch water supplies and build new clean water infrastructure, creating jobs without undermining environmental protections, preempting state laws, or redirecting impacts from one drought-stricken area to another.
Modernizing the Army Corps’ Work at our Ports, Harbors, Reservoirs, and Waterways:
I have led the effort in Congress to bring Army Corps reservoir operations in line with modern science, to help save water, and to support communities through extreme weather events. The Army Corps of Engineers operates many of its reservoirs—critical for the water supply of cities and towns throughout the country, including in Sonoma County—on outdated and obsolete water control manuals, some of which are as much as 60 years old. In the 115th Congress, I authored two key provisions in the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, jump-starting a long-overdue feasibility study for raising Coyote Valley Dam, and moving ahead with much-needed reservoir operation modernization at Lake Mendocino. For more information about my work on this issue, click HERE.
I have led efforts to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, our country’s most important fisheries law, in a way that includes constructive bipartisan ideas while building on what is already working to make our nation’s fisheries more sustainable. I will continue to work to improve sustainable management, allow for appropriate flexibility, modernize aspects of fisheries management, and ensure science-based limits.
River Restoration and Protection:
I am the co-chair of the House Wild Salmon Caucus and work to ensure the North Coast’s rivers are healthy enough to uphold all the values they represent, including fishing, tribal trust responsibilities, endangered species and other fish and wildlife, power generation, and recreation.
In the 115th Congress, I helped protect the iconic Smith River by securing a twenty-year ban on new mining projects in an ecologically and economically critical region in Southwest Oregon, which includes the Smith River headwaters. The people of Del Norte County, the Elk Valley and Tolowa Dee-ni' tribes, and thousands of other Californians and Oregonians who cherish the Smith River have united in working to secure two decades of protection for this spectacular landscape and its wildlife for future generations.
One of the most important river restoration projects throughout the nation is the ongoing effort to remove the four dams on the Klamath River, which will rebuild the river’s salmon runs. I am working to ensure this historic project meets the vision of North Coast tribes, fishing groups, conservation organizations, and my downstream constituents who will benefit greatly from a revitalized, free-flowing Klamath River.
My first piece of legislation in Congress was H.R. 1411, the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act, which advanced the efforts of the local community to add the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands on the Mendocino Coast to the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM). In 2013, the House of Representatives unanimously passed my bill and demonstrated important bipartisan support for protecting this beautiful stretch of coastline. In 2014, President Obama used his executive authority and brought the land into permanent protection as a National Monument.
It is fitting that President Obama followed in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt in using the Antiquities Act—the same law used to protect the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty—to protect this jewel of the Mendocino Coast for future generations. Thousands of new visitors each year will travel to see this gateway to the Coastal National Monument. As they enjoy some of the best ocean views in Northern California, they will also provide a significant boost to Mendocino County’s biggest source of employment – the local tourism industry.
Read more about the California Coastal National Monument and our work to protect the Mendocino Coast HERE.
I have also authored historic legislation to protect many of the spectacular wild places and pristine streams within California’s 2nd Congressional District. The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act would restore national forest land and fish habitat, stimulate local economies through forest stewardship programs, enhance recreational opportunities including through trails and visitor centers, and reduce fire danger. The bill would also designate 379 miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers and mandates federal agencies to create management plans for the 101 miles of existing rivers.
California San Francisco Bay Delta:
The San Francisco Bay Delta is the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, sustaining countless migratory birds and an economically vital salmon fishery, recreational opportunities, and improved quality of life for residents and tourists alike. Unfortunately, centuries of development, pollution, and water diversions have constricted the amount of water that flows naturally through the Bay-Delta and starved its wetlands and rivers. Current environmental standards are protecting an ecosystem on life support and are insufficient for a full and vibrant recovery.
Dating back to my time in the state legislature, where I played a leading role in crafting and passing a historic package of water reforms in 2009, I have fought to forge consensus around effective science-based environmental and clean water protections so that we can meet California’s water needs without sacrificing the salmon industry or the environmental values that make California great.
Easing the Tax Burden on Homeowners Making Water-Efficient Choices:
I am the author of the Water Conservation Rebate Tax Parity Act, a bipartisan common-sense fix to the tax code to ensure that homeowners and businesses are not taxed for improving their water footprint.
Improving Water Quality & Efficiency on Farms:
Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a USDA initiative to help farming and conservation work hand in hand. In the 115th Congress, I introduced the Farmers CARE Act to strengthen the EQIP program and improve water and air quality, soil and wildlife habitat while supporting and improving agricultural operations.
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