April 16, 2009

Salazar: ESA relief "not a solution"

By Salazar: ESA relief "not a solution"

Farmers and laborers throughout the Central Valley know too well the damage that is being wrought due to Endangered Species Act-related water restrictions. Unfortunately, as the San Diego Union Tribune reported today (thanks to Aquafornia for the pointer), Interior Secretary Ken Salazar thinks that people can suffer a little longer — or at least believes that money is the solution to everyone's problems:

Salazar yesterday said that setting aside safeguards would just be a "temporary fix."

"That is not a solution here," he said. “The solution we are looking for has to be comprehensive in nature."

Salazar said he sympathizes with farmworkers, hundreds of whom are on a four-day march across the dusty Central Valley to draw attention to their plight. He added that renowned farm-labor activist Cesar Chavez "was a friend of mine."

"I feel in my heart very much for those people who are being affected, the members of the United Farm Workers of America … I know the kind of suffering that they are currently undergoing," Salazar said. "Our hope is some of the money we have made available today will help."

A comprehensive fix may in fact be needed, but what is to be done now while job losses continue to pile up?  Unfortunately, Secretary Salazar punts on this issue.  It seems that he hopes people will eventually be distracted by the tempting allure of money.

We doubt the farmers and laborers really believe more money will help them with their problems.  What they're really interested in is going about their lives without their most precious resource being wasted.

To that end, Pacific Legal Foundation is following this sad story of regulatory overkill.  Today, PLF attorney Damien Schiff noted the following in a press release:

The federal regulators who have helped create a water shortage in the Central Valley have ignored their legal duty to take the interests of human beings into account. They’re favoring fish at the expense of families and the jobs and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Californians and millions of American consumers. And by wreaking destruction on the Central Valley farming, they’re threatening to create agricultural shortages and higher prices nationwide, because the Central Valley is one of America’s leading food baskets and a source of national food security.

While Secretary Salazar makes his way back to the comforts of Washington D.C., PLF is in the midst of considering a possible legal challenge to the ESA water restrictions.

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