Here are the two pieces of Ms. Fiorina’s water policy that I could find. In her debate challenge to Sen. Boxer:
The Republican, however, made one debate demand, that they schedule one meeting in Mendota in the Central Valley, “where unemployment is skyrocketing because the federal government has decided that families don’t need water.”
Her water issues page on her campaign website:
“Bringing relief to the thousands of California farmers and farm workers who are out of work and also to the many other family-owned, agriculture businesses in the Central Valley due to the water crisis is one of my highest priorities.” – Carly Fiorina
Nearly 40,000 of our fellow Californians are out of work in the Central Valley because of our state’s urgent water crisis, and job losses will only increase unless the U.S. Senate acts now to turn the pumps back on. While the Central Valley is disproportionally impacted by this water shortage, our water crisis is having a serious impact across the state and threatens the water supply to tens of millions of Southern Californians.
As chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer has the power to help turn the situation around. Yet, despite her willingness to help the people of New Mexico when they faced a similar situation in 2003, Barbara Boxer has repeatedly refused to take the pragmatic steps necessary to get water flowing again. She voted against a water amendment that would have temporarily allowed water to flow to California’s farmland and homes, and she continues to prioritize a small fish ahead of the livelihoods of California’s farmers and farm workers.
That’s what we’re working with until we get more detailed policy pages. I look forward to those, because like many Republican talking heads, Ms. Fiorina has apparently decided that the only thing that is important in California water is what happens in Westlands Water District. No policy statements about any other water issues for any other Californians. You live in a city that is facing rate hikes because of deferred maintenance, drought and population pressures? So far, she hasn’t said what she’d do. Delta residents, are you mad about the state of the Sacramento River and scared about a Peripheral Canal? You already know that she only perceives the problems of Westlands. Salmon fisherman, do you want to know her program to revitalize fish stocks? She hasn’t said. People dependent on the Colorado and interested in the Salton Sea, she hasn’t shown any interest in your issues either, but there I’m sympathetic because man alive is that stuff boring I haven’t focused on that system either.
She said “…the federal government has decided that families don’t need water”.
By that does she mean, the unanimous vote of the U.S. Congress to pass the ESA three decades ago? Does she mean the single federal judge in Fresno who is upholding the ESA? Judge Wanger didn’t decide that “families don’t need water.” He decided that pumping was illegally taking endangered fish, and slowed the pumps down when fish are near the pumps. I don’t have to add this for this audience, but I will. No one went without drinking water because of this decision. No families had their living water turned off. Some farms (many of which are huge corporations) didn’t get enough water to irrigate their entire tens of thousands of acres. This is not quite the same as families not getting water, which actually looks like this. (I’m sure the Latino Water Coalition will address the issue of nitrates in drinking water any minute now, and senators who are newly fascinated by poverty in the San Joaquin Valley will get right to work on the problem.)
On her issues page, Ms. Fiorina goes on to attack Sen. Boxer’s handling of the pumping restrictions, in rhetoric that will be familiar to the Republican base in the Valley, but explain very little to anyone who isn’t a water junkie. She never says the words “Endangered Species Act”, even though that (and climate change-induced water scarcity) are the heart of the issue. Her current issues language makes it seem as if Sen. Boxer is acting on whim, because her issues page doesn’t mention the reasons for conflict.
There’s no sophistication in Ms. Fiorina’s water issues page, and no content besides a very Republican focus on a very small piece of California’s water situation, where large corporations have exploited the image of farmworkers to try to secure a supply of irrigation water. That isn’t too surprising. Ms. Fiorina came from a tech background and hasn’t learned about water issues*. I can’t blame her for that, but then it surprises me that her very first words were about debating in Mendota, because of the poor farmworkers. I know that has been a rallying cry for Valley Republicans and very motivating for that base. But she’s got nothing underneath that talking point, nothing at all. She’s bluffing in an extremely complicated field that a subset of Californians are very knowledgeable and opinionated about. Seems like a bad strategy for her to bring it up front and center.
*We could never actually settle this, but I’d bet twenty dollars that she couldn’t name any major water agencies if she were surprised at a press conference. I’d be shocked if she could name the two biggest state agencies, and the big federal water agency in the west. Fuck, I bet she couldn’t name the judge whose words make us all dance (and who decided that “families don’t need water”).