WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to move forward with relicensing the hydroelectric facility at Don Pedro. At FERC hearings held in Turlock and Modesto, Cardoza submitted a statement urging the Commission to evaluate the hydro-electric project based solely on its own merits, and not allow the relicensing process be hijacked by those attempting to restrict water deliveries on the San Joaquin tributaries.
In his statement, which was read by proxy because the congressman was in Washington, D.C., today for votes in Congress, Rep. Cardoza praised the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts. “Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts have willingly and fully participated in the efforts to find solutions to our region’s water and energy needs and have been good stewards of the environment,” the congressman stated in a news release.
He urged the commission not to be distracted by broader issues, saying, “There are some that assert the FERC process should be used as a tool to redirect water in order to address multiple environmental concerns as far away as the Bay Delta or even the ocean. It is important, as the Commission moves forward in its evaluation of this license, that the Commission remain focused on the specific task before it: to evaluate the impacts of this hydroelectric project.”
Cardoza continued, “It is true that there are challenges with the Delta ecosystem. I, for one, have been extremely vocal about the need for the state and federal governments to consider all the factors at play with regards to water quality and the decline of the fisheries in the Delta before taking any further action to restrict water exports out of the Delta.These Delta issues, however, are not, nor should they be, the subject of your evaluation.”
Cardoza warned, “[U]sing the FERC process as a hammer to restrict water deliveries on the San Joaquin tributaries, in much the same way as the Biological Opinions have been used to restrict water exports in the Delta, is a recipe for conflict and economic havoc to this region of the state.”
According to the news release, Cardoza also urged the commission to consider the economic impact the Don Pedro hydro-electric facility has on the community, saying “The San Joaquin Valley is one of California’s most economically challenged areas. We are an agricultural community that is among the fastest growing areas in the state. Our demographic profile shows we must make enormous strides in economic development if we are to find the jobs to pull people out of poverty. Don Pedro is one of the few resource tools we have to preserve our agricultural economy and provide affordable power and water for our residents and businesses.”