Commentary: Feinstein's amendment could throw a wrench in water works

In her long and mostly distinguished career, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has championed many environmental causes. At times she has also challenged environmentalists to consider interests other than their own.

That's good. Feinstein's independent streak is one of her assets as a U.S. senator and a leader of California.

Feinstein, however, also has been known to take reckless stands. She is doing so now, with plans to amend a fast-moving jobs bill to reduce Endangered Species Act protections for fish, including salmon, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Feinstein's amendment, if enacted, would increase Delta pumping to benefit certain farms in the San Joaquin Valley. Those agricultural operations, ranging from small farms to lucrative corporate empires, have seen their irrigation supplies drop due to drought and court decisions involving Delta smelt and other fish.

In a statement Thursday, Feinstein said she was seeking this amendment because, in so many words, water is being wasted. "Water has been gushing past the canals and into the oceans while farms on the west side of the valley are likely to receive a very low percentage of their water allocations," she said.

Feinstein is grossly oversimplifying the water situation in the Delta and the valley.

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