As Californiaâs potent drought inspiredÂ soul searching fromÂ analysts worried the Golden State canât grow without water, politicians and officials focused on aÂ more immediate task: laying blame for the problem.
Gov. Jerry Brown has tried to set a philosophical tone, cautioning that âwe are embarked upon an experiment that no one has ever tried: 38 million people, with 32 million vehicles, living at the level of comfort that we all strive to attain. This will require adjustment. This will require learning.â But environmentalists have urged himÂ to add water restrictions to Californiaâs big farmers.
At the same time, environmentalism itselfÂ has becomeÂ caught in the political crossfire.
In recent radio remarks to The Blaze, likely GOP presidential contender Carly Fiorina castigated âliberal environmentalistsâ for creating a statewide âtragedy.â
â[D]espite the fact that California has suffered from droughts for millennia, liberal environmentalists have prevented the building of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades during a period in which Californiaâs population has doubled,â she said. âThere is a man-made lack of water in California â and Washington manages the water for the farmers.â
Fiorina has not been alone in teeing up environmentalistsÂ for criticism over the Golden Stateâs dire straits. As The Hill noted, âRepublicans in California and in Congress have proposed multiple times to beef up the stateâs water storage with more dams and reservoirs. Environmentalists have pushed back and questioned the impact that the projects would have on the stateâs water needs.â
In a relatedÂ spat, Republicans at the federal level blamed environmental interests for President Obamaâs threatened veto of a bill that would pump water from Californiaâs Delta region into Southern California. The move drew howls from Californiaâs Republican delegation.
When the president orderedÂ Northern California water withheldÂ to protect the tiny Delta smelt, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.,Â called the actÂ a âculmination of failed federal and state policies that have exacerbated the current drought into a man-made water crisis. Sacramento and Washington have chosen to put the well-being of fish above the well-being of people by refusing to capture millions of acre-feet of water during wet years for use during dry years.â
Recently, faced with questioning on the drought,Â White House press secretary Josh Earnest rebuffed the matter. According toÂ Politico, Earnest âsaid the Obama administration does not have any policy changes to share, and he listed steps that President Barack Obama has taken to offer relief to the state, such as sending $60 million to California food banks and $15 million for farmers and ranchers.â
âWeâre going to continue to be in touch with California,â he concluded.
At the same time federal water allocation has become a bone of political contention, the role of fracking in water consumption has also come under scrutiny. In furtheranceÂ of a law passed last year that requires oil and gas companies to disclose how much water they use, state officials told Reuters that last year that the figure hit someÂ 70 million gallonsâ worth.
But rather than bowing to objections from within his own party, Gov. Jerry Brown declined to crack down on the practice.
âDespite pressure from environmentalists, Brown has not called for a halt to fracking in the state, saying it is not a major drain on water supplies. âHydraulic fracturing uses a relatively small amount of water â the equivalent of 514 households annuallyâ per well, said Steven Bohlen, the state oil and gas supervisor.Â About 100,000 gallons of water is used on average per well, he said.â
For environmentalists, who have been at odds with fracking for years, both in California and across the country, the droughtâs intensity simply supplied yet another reason thatÂ the practice should end.