While in the area on Wednesday, March 10, US Representative Jeff Denham stopped by The News office to discuss recent subjects that have been part of his focus this legislative year. Two issues, both introduced by the congressman, the Federal Asset Sale and Transfer (FAST) Act of 2016 and the Save Our Salmon (SOS) Act of 2016 were topics of the conversation.
Denham said the FAST Act was a bipartisan bill to eliminate government waste by selling off unused and vacant federal properties. It passed unanimously through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this month.
“There’s a number of federal buildings no longer used, remaining vacant, sometimes for years,” Denham said of over 77,000 properties costing taxpayers $1.7 billion to maintain every year. “I’m working on getting those sold; it’s a waste.”
The three-term congressman said there are instances where even two buildings within a close radius are only 50 percent occupied and has proposed combining the two offices into one facility, closing and selling the other building to save money.
“This bill is common sense, it’s bipartisan, and it’s good government,” Denham said “It will save us billions. This has been a priority of mine for many years and I am glad to see such clear support on both sides of the aisle.”
Denham said his Save Our Salmon (SOS) Act of 2016 legislation eliminates the doubling requirement established by the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 for striped bass, a known predator fish of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead.
The CVPIA has led to sending millions of acre-feet of water to the ocean and millions of dollars being spent every year to protect fish populations across the Central Valley at the cost of farmers and irrigation.
“Our devastating drought has been made worse annually by the Obama administration in conjunction with environmental extremists who prioritize fish over families,” said Denham. “Yet they push out millions of acre-feet and fail to address predator species, which their own estimates have shown eat 98 percent of endangered fish species. We must stop the crazy cycle of spending money on both the fish we want to save and the fish that kill them.”
Denham, who passed previous legislation regarding a program to study predator fish on the Stanislaus River in 2013 and an amendment to make salmon and steelhead recovery plans more effective, said water infrastructure is a big concern because of four years of drought in the Valley. He pointed to recent water releases in Folsom, stating water should be pumped, if feasible, to restore Shasta and San Luis reservoirs.
“One of the things I found interesting about the Democratic Debates in Flint (Michigan) is when you talk about water infrastructure, we have the same thing here,” Denham said, explaining that people in East Porterville, much of Tulare County and even nearby Mountain House have run out of water. “As Congress is passing a bill on Flint, Michigan, I think we should address California’s water infrastructure as well.”