The striking thing about Rep. Devin Nunes’ riders to the budget bill (and subsequent doubling down in this post) is that both are purely ideologically driven. Neither politicking nor reality constrains him now.
One of his two riders would de-fund the San Joaquin River Restoration Project. That cracks me up, because the San Joaquin River isn’t even in his district. There are growers who object to the restoration project, claiming that the subsurface flow of the river is subbing their fields. But they’re up near Tracy, above and west of Rep. Nunes’ district. He’s not serving his constituents; he’s borrowing trouble from the next district over.
I was real interested in his blog post. Not the new one, one from a week ago, where he writes:
The language included in the base bill of the 2011 Continuing Resolution will prevent any federal funds from being used to implement the biological decisions responsible for reduced Delta pumping – effectively guaranteeing normal pump operations for 2011. [my emphasis]
That’s not how it works. Withdrawing federal funding doesn’t mean that the biological opinions are nullified, nor the court-ordered pumping regime reversed, nor the species revived. It just means that someone else has to pay for it. The Kern County Water Agency noticed this with some alarm, since if the Feds drop out, the State Water Contractors may have to foot the bill or reduce their pumping to compensate.
That’s what is so striking about Rep. Nunes’ worldview, and Rep. McClintock’s as well. They have an ideology that includes no constraints or mechanisms. Rep. McClintock thinks the reason the state doesn’t build dams is that we don’t believe in abundance anymore, not because the remaining damsites would yield very little very expensive water. Rep. Nunes’ thinks that taking away federal money to implement a court order will make the court order stop existing.
The extraordinary part of this, of course, is that when Kern County Water Agency and the Friant Water Users Authority, and Paramount Farms pointed out to Rep. Nunes that his budget rider wouldn’t work out well for them, he wrote a post saying that they’d been co-opted by environmentalists. (I am sorry that happened to you, KCWA, FWUA and Paramount Farms. That was a terribly unjust accusation, and I know how it must sting*.) This is remarkable! Those are either wealthy landowners or thoroughly established organizations in his own district! What is he thinking?! Does he think they can’t find another blandly handsome tall man to run against him next time?
Rep. Nunes is a wild card now. His ideology is now stronger than even the most self-interested politicking; he’s flailing at his own. Well, enjoy that, Kern and Tulare. You brought him to this dance. Perhaps it is time to pull him aside and remind him to behave himself in public.
*Just in case it is true, I would like to be the first to welcome you to our potlucks. We’re mostly nice, even if we do try to one-up each other with the obscurity of our particular yoga discipline. Nearly any of us can make a tasty hummus dip, and you will adjust to bringing gluten-free dishes soon enough.