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Doug L.
Republican CA 1

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  • Issues of Concern to the American People

    by Representative Doug LaMalfa

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    LaMALFA. I appreciate it. Thank you to my colleague from North [[Page H148]] Carolina. You are very gracious in yielding to me, and it has been a pleasure to work with you.

    Mr. Speaker, I thank those assembled here tonight. I just want to talk a little bit about some of the issues we have going on in the West, in northern California.

    First of all, the excitement we have of coming in--it is a new Congress, it is a new direction for our country, I think. We have a stronger majority in the House of Representatives, of the Republican House. As well, it is a different majority over in the Senate. A lot of people aren't too concerned with what party it is or what partisan issues are; they want to see results. That is what I am looking for as well.

    Many bills were sent out of the House last session and languished on a desk over on the Senate side, and I think we will now see action on those commonsense measures that are going to help jobs in America, help our economy rebound, and help people get out from under the grip of government power and government regulation that is just killing their hopes and killing their ideals.

    We are looking for that in this new session, and we expect we will be held accountable to make that happen. It is not going to be a miracle. We are not going to get all the results we hoped for, but at least there are going to be things on the Record now that have gone through this House and have gone to the Senate that will be showing the American people what our agenda is and what it has been about.

    Bringing it back home to California, I represent the First District in the northeast portion of the State. It is a beautiful district. I am very proud to have been elected for a second time to represent the First District. It is an area that has a lot of great resources that benefit our whole State, even our whole country.

    To be able to have my family here with me in Washington attending the festivities, the honor of being sworn in and getting started, getting a fast start, going to work here in this new 114th has just been a real delight.

    What we need to be happening in California is a better and wiser use of our resources. You may have seen, at the end of the last session, we were working towards better management of our water supply. Now, we have a deluge of rain once in a while, even when we are suffering drought for the last few years in California.

    The water seems to all come at once. If it isn't being saved in snowpack, it will come quickly via rain through our streams, and that is an opportunity for us that we should be retaining that behind the dam, so that we have as well the water that gets down the Feather River and the Sacramento River and can be transferred and put somewhere to be used later.

    We have the ability to have the water allocated as needed for fish, for habitat, but there is excess water that needs to be stored. I don't know why that isn't the automatic protocol, but Congress--a bill I cosponsored with many of my other colleagues put forward reminding the Bureau of Reclamation and others that they need to retain this extra water.

    It isn't needed for fish, and it isn't needed for the normal runs, so we will have more stored later.

    {time} 1730 That is what we will continue to work for. But I still go back to the vision that people before us had that have given us Shasta Dam, Lake Oroville, and the whole State water project and the Central Valley project that we have in our State that we have benefited from for so many years, that everybody benefits from, whether you are an environmentalist, a farmer, a person who lives in a city, or if you just have a tap in the country. If you are not on a well, you are probably benefiting from these projects because we had the vision in the past to build them and we didn't have nearly the roadblocks.

    Now, of course, we have great environmental concerns and environmental awareness to do things better than we did in the 1850s or the 1880s or what have you. We know how to do these things. But it doesn't mean that, because of a handful of people who don't want to see things happen, we stop the progress for all the rest of us.

    So that is what we will be pushing for in this new Congress, to build more water storage. We can do that in northern California. Sites Reservoir, and there are other projects that can be enhanced to retain more water, and there are smarter ways to keep the water that we do have to make the water go further because it is necessary. The way California is suffering from droughts, agricultural land is going to be the first thing to go. Any time an emergency can be declared to switch whatever water does get to agriculture to meet other needs around the State, we have to take care of people first and we have to take care of cities, but when we see so much being run out through the Golden Gate that could be saved, or for questionable tactics on fish that really haven't been proven for that kind of habitat, then we are missing the mark.

    So we will be working very hard to add to our water storage and to be smarter with the water we have available to us because we can't count on a record rainfall this year. We are very thankful and we have been blessed with good rainfall in November and the early part of December, but it has tailed off lately. We will need record rainfall the rest of the season up through the spring to have the kind of water we need to get through a good crop year. In the meantime, we should be doing everything possible in government to enhance, to retain, to be smarter with the water we have.

    When we hear ideas of removing dams in the north part of the State, part of my district, that produce hydroelectric power because of dubious studies that might benefit fish, we are hurting our region of the State. We are hurting our grid by taking enough renewable electricity off the grid that would somehow need to be replaced with other green power to manage 70,000 homes in the State because of dubious lack of science. We need to battle through this and have smarter use of our resources.

    Another thing that we are very rich in in our part of the State is timber. Each summer we see the crisis of nonmanagement of our timber and what that looks like. It is in the air. It is in our brown skies. We get to breathe that. The people within those communities are wondering why their mills are shut down and why their storefronts are boarded up and why they don't have jobs and why they have things like domestic violence increasing because people don't have work in those communities sometimes because their industry has been taken away from them.

    I sit on the Natural Resources Committee to get after both of these and other issues--our water, our timber use, and other resources--that are so necessary to the rural part of the State, the rural West that has been languishing for many years, ever since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, for good reason at the time, to save the bald eagle. We have bald eagles in our rice fields where I live at home. But we have gone so far beyond that rural America is suffering from this type of regulation that it isn't even proven to help recover a single species. Indeed, somewhere around 1 percent, at best, of species have been recovered after 40-plus years of the Endangered Species Act. That is pretty deplorable for what the cost has been to the people, to the jobs, and for the communities and their values.

    But I am still optimistic that America is turning the corner and seeing things a little bit differently and that the job needs to come back home. And the jobs at home need to be revived once again. As a grower of grain myself, we look at our alternatives. Do we want to be in a situation where in the past we were dependent on oil from people who don't like us much? Do we want to be in a position to have our grain crops, the breadbasket of our Nation, do we want to become more dependent on that from people who maybe aren't always a reliable ally overseas? Wheat from Russia and rice from China, do we want to rely on that, or do we want to do the best we can? My fellow farmers across the country and in my area, they are good stewards of the land. Many have been there for many, many generations. Some of the ranchers I know, their families have been farming and ranching for 160 years in northern California, my own family 80-plus years. We know how to take care of the land. We know what needs to be done. It is sustainable, to [[Page H149]] use that buzz word that goes around a lot these days. If it wasn't sustainable, the land wouldn't still produce.

    So this is the type of thing we are fighting for. If we don't have a breadbasket in this country, what will America rely on to keep us fed? With the unrest we have in the world, ultimately, if we can't fuel our own Armies if it becomes necessary, what kind of position will we be in to defend ourselves or our allies, like in Europe, like in Israel, like in Japan, or others we have great relations and great trade with? We are in great peril right now if we keep our head in the sand on these issues. We need to look at the resources we have.

    As I look at the young people in the audience tonight, one of the first things that I am reminded of is that we are running an $18 trillion national debt. We have lived for the future in the present on someone else's money. And so every dollar we have, every dollar that comes in, we have to be good stewards of, much better than in the past. So every dollar has to go for the type of infrastructure that will improve our transportation system, our water system, our flood control system, and keep our communities safe, and not on frivolous things.

    I am reminded in California, instead of this water infrastructure that we so desperately need, we have had several years of drought to remind us, they are still pursuing a high-speed rail system in California. As a former State legislator, we were right in the middle of that as it was coming to a head. What will the rail cost? Voters were told then $33 billion to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles at 220 miles per hour. It isn't even close to being that project anymore, and the price has tripled, at least. It has gone from $33 billion to at least $98 billion by the admission of the rail authority in a hearing we had in the State legislature back then. They are still chasing this dream. Now they have tried to downsize it to be a $68 billion project. To this day, right now, they have still only identified $13 billion-- $10 billion from the State bond and $3 billion from the Federal Government via the Stimulus Act of 2009. So $13 billion of a needed and downsized $68 billion project. They are $55 billion short, and they still think today they are going to go find that money. From the private sector, they are staying away in droves.

    There is no way that it is going to be built anywhere near on time, anywhere near on any kind of budget, or that the riders they would have will ever be able to afford to ride it. Why don't we take a fraction of that money, of the $13 billion or the $68 billion, or whatever number it is, and put it towards the water storage we need? We could build two really nice dams with $68 billion, especially with private sector money that wants to come in and be a partner on this. Let's get it done, because this is the infrastructure that will help our State and help the people and help bring jobs back to rural California and rural America.

    I am looking for help from my other colleagues from other States, especially other Western States that have water infrastructure needs they are looking at themselves. Let's work together on this. That is what made us great back in the day.

    We have had these huge projects that have made so much hydroelectric power. We like green power. We like renewable power. When it rains behind a dam, you have renewable power and it is reliable. And it is low cost, much more so than windmills and solar panels that require government assistance to put them in and keep them going. Let's do the right thing here and allow these things to happen, all that private sector to happen.

    I am optimistic in this Congress that we can make that case and put it in front of the American people. I ask the President to join with us and help on that, whether it is that or the further development of energy that we need in this country to stay ahead of the curve. We are seeing prices coming down, amazingly. Hydraulic fracturing has played a big part in us seeing the price of fuel in some areas--not in California, but other States going below $2 a gallon. In California, we are still taxing ourselves and thinking up cap-and-trade measures to drive the cost up so we will be our own island of high costs. But the other 49 States, God bless you, you have it pretty good.

    The vision that we have had to do these things is what we need desperately going forward in 2015 because when we are productive, like what we can produce in northern California with agriculture, with timber, with our mine resources, all of the other things that come from the land, that sets the table for everything else across our district and across our State and across the whole country. That puts us back to work again.

    We have trillions of dollars offshore that would love to be repatriated back to this country if we had any kind of constant as to what the tax burden would be for those dollars, for those businesses and investment that needs to be here, any kind of consistency for what our regulatory burden would be so they could predict. If they are to put 30-year loans and 30-year infrastructure in place, will they be able to do business 5 years from now? We would be bringing American jobs back if we could repatriate that money back here. So let's get it done.

    We don't come here in Congress--at least I haven't--because it is nice to wear a suit and tie. We come here to get results. To be results oriented, we need to use real facts, real figures, real budgets, real numbers to get to the core of what we are supposed to be doing as to what the Founders had set for our government. The government is doing a lot more things it has no business doing and it can't do well. Let's make sure that we are doing and we have the economy, we have the engineering to generate so we have a functioning school system, it has the funding it needs at fair and proper levels; for our law enforcement, so they are not left wanting for the equipment and backup they need; and for the folks deployed overseas defending our borders as well as helping our allies. We shouldn't leave them wanting while they are deployed; and certainly with the mess that the VA system is, when they come back home, the promises made to them are broken and the shame that we should all feel when our veterans, so many are left homeless or simply begging to have their claims processed.

    I am confident in this new Congress that the House and the Senate can work together and put these ideas forward. We can put them out in front of the American people, have the accountability, have the oversight that our job demands. We will get there.

    So whether it is now or 2 years from now, I challenge the President to look at these things from a commonsense way of thinking. Think about America first. That is what we will be doing in this House and over in the Senate.

    So from northern California to the rest of the country, help us all to be productive and to live the lives we choose to give our kids a chance to live at home, to find jobs and opportunities in their own communities--farming, ranching, mining, whatever it is, or related industries in those small towns that so many are boarded up now. Let them have that chance to live at home, not have to go someplace else, go to a big city somewhere, a different State, or even overseas to try to find good employment so they would have the dream they see fit and the one that their parents would like to pass along to them.

    My colleague from North Carolina, I appreciate the time tonight and the opportunity to talk about my district and the things we need to do there, as well as what we need to do for our country. I bid you a good evening, and thank you.

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