Carly Fiorina has a point, even if she overstates it. Environmentalists didn't cause California's devastating drought. But poor planning and environmental regulations, have certainly made it worse.
Fiorina, a likely 2016 GOP presidential contender, raised eyebrows and hackles in California last week when she made her claim.
"It is a man-made disaster," she said. "California is a classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people's lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology. It's a tragedy."
There's no question California has water problems.
"Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered mandatory water use reductions for the first time in California's history, saying the state's four-year drought had reached near-crisis proportions after a winter of record-low snowfalls," TheNew York Times reported last week. "Mr. Brown, in an executive order, directed the State Water Resources Control Board to impose a 25 percent reduction on the state's 400 local water supply agencies, which serve 90 percent of California residents, over the coming year."
That's going to mean shorter showers, and browner lawns.
"People should realize we are in a new era," Brown said. "The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past."
Fiorina points out that the culprit for the drought is the weather, but also California policies.
"That's the tragedy of California, because of liberal environmentalists' insistence — despite 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 California's population has doubled," Fiorina said.
There's a great deal of truth to that, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"The state's water emergency is unfolding thanks to the latest mishandling of the Endangered Species Act," the Journal wrote as a warning back in 2009. "Last December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued what is known as a ‘biological opinion' imposing water reductions on the San Joaquin Valley and environs to safeguard the federally protected hypomesus transpacificus, aka, the delta smelt. As a result, tens of billions of gallons of water from mountains east and north of Sacramento have been channeled away from farmers and into the ocean, leaving hundreds of thousands of acres of arable land fallow or scorched."
Of course, many are quick to say the drought itself is the result of climate change — though there's little evidence of that. California and the Southwest have always suffered from droughts, and there are plenty of historical examples of more severe droughts than this one. What makes the current drought feel worse is California's population boom — there are more people there who are suffering.
The sad fact is California has neglected its infrastructure, including water. That's the real problem here, as the Orange County Register notes.
"Better get used to straw-like lawns and dirty cars," it wrote in an editorial on April 7. "Decades of neglecting California's water infrastructure finally parched the state."
There's a lesson here for Texas, too. Let's not neglect ours.