Unusual, to be sure. But ever so necessary. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt took off the gloves and aimed a one-two combo at House Republicans and President Barack Obama on environmental issues.
Babbitt's well-rounded attack last week was richly deserved. Others should follow his example. It is time for a parade of people to stand up publicly in defense of the nation's public lands and water resources.
House Republicans, Babbitt noted, have "declared war on our land, water and natural resources."
This description is no exaggeration, as seen in the words and actions of the California House delegation, who are leaders of the extremist anti-environmental charge.
The troika of Reps. Devin Nunes of Visalia, Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield and Jeff Denham of Atwater are sponsoring a bill, House Resolution 1837, that would radically alter water law and policy in California and upend years of progress in resolving California's water wars.
HR 1837 would explicitly repeal the two-decades-in-the-making settlement among various interests to restore fisheries and flows to the dewatered San Joaquin River. The bill also would undermine the historic bipartisan legislation in 2009 to find solutions for the Bay-Delta.
The salmon fishing industry and related businesses call HR 1837 the "Salmon Extinction Bill of 2011." They note that the bill is "not about reliability, but enriching the junior water rights holders on the west side of the San Joaquin River at the expense of farmers in other parts of the Central Valley, the California and Oregon salmon fisheries, and California and federal taxpayers."
From his perch as chairman of the House Water and Power Subcommittee, Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove held a hearing in support of this blatant water grab.
Doesn't he realize that HR 1837 is a direct attack on senior water rights holders in his district, such as the Placer and El Dorado water districts, in favor of junior water rights contractors such as the powerful Westlands Water District?
To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.