By: Allen Young
Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove has introduced legislation to block federal funding in fiscal 2015 for the Delta tunnels project. According to Bera, state officials have asked the federal government for $4 billion to help finance the $25 billion project.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan “will cost taxpayers billions, and hurt countless farmers and small businesses in our region. We must stop this misguided plan and continue to fight for real bipartisan solutions,” Bera said in a statement.
The plan would construct two 40-foot-wide underground tunnels to move water from the Sacramento River into Central Valley farms and Southern California cities. Supporters say the project is necessary to create a reliable water supply for the state and restore the Delta’s delicate ecosystem. Opponents say the costly project would hurt the environment and salmon populations.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency also has raised concerns, arguing the tunnels could hurt water quality for farms and municipalities along the Delta. State officials hope to begin construction in the next few years, but lawsuits could delay the process.
Bera, who prefers water storage projects over the plan, joined Congress in 2012 after beating Republican Rep. Dan Lungren. Since then, Republicans have been hungry to retrieve his seat, and have run attack ads against Bera. His challenger in the Nov. 4 election is Republican Doug Ose, a former three-term Congressman.