CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 4252 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Joe Baca on December 9, 2009, and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources where it was reported out of committee on March 11, 2010.
H.R. 4252 directs the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the United States Geological Survey, to complete a survey of ground water resources in the Rialto-Colton Basin in California. The survey would be required to identify aquifers and perchlorate concentrations in the basin and characterize the surface and bedrock geology of the Basin, including the effect of geology on ground water yield and quality. Under the legislation, the study would have to be completed within two years of enactment.
Percholate is a chemical which can be both naturally occurring and man-made and is the main component in solid rocket propellant. The improper disposal of chemicals containing percholate can lead to the contamination of local aquifers and groundwater. Large amounts of percholate in water can have dangerous health affects on humans. The Rialto-Colton Basin is a primary source of water for thousands of individuals living in San Bernardino County.
According to additional views from Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom McClintock, 200 billion gallons of water have been diverted from the San Joaquin Valley, where communities and farms are desperate for water, in order to protect the Delta Smelt. H.R. 4252 does nothing to restore the water to the San Joaquin Valley, water which could restore thousands of jobs to the area. Due to the man-made drought in the San Joaquin Valley, unemployment is rampant. Rep. McClintock detailed the dire situation in the San Joaquin Valley by stating, "It is overwhelming for many people to see, much less endure, such conditions. Recent food handouts in Mendota and nearby Firebaugh drew lines more than a half-mile long. Dozens of people recently camped out or arrived in the middle of the night to line up for a handful of short-term jobs. People wait for hours outside grocery stores, not to buy food but to accept produce that's thrown out because it is too old to sell." Some members believe that this bill, while a good step to clean the water supply in the Rialto-Colton Basin, is once again, another situation where the Democrat majority favoring one part of California over another because of "partisan intransigence."
CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4252 would cost $4 million over the next two years.