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Dust bowl, California-style

Writing from Coalinga, California, for Investor’s Business Daily, Monica Showalter opens her report on the drought with a few rhetorical questions: “Would France rip out its storied vineyards? Would Juan Valdez scorch Colombia’s coffee crop? Sri Lanka its black pepper harvest? China its tea?” Showalter writes:

On a springtime drive through the Central Valley, it’s hard not to notice how federal and state governments are hell-bent on destroying the state’s top export — almonds — and everything else in the nation’s most productive farmland.
Instead of pink blossoms and green shoots along Highway 5 in April, vast spans from Bakersfield to Fresno sit bone-dry. Brown grass, dead orchards and lifeless grapevine skeletons stretch for miles for lack of water. For every fallow field, there’s a sign that farmers have placed alongside the highway: “No Water = No Food,” “No Water = No Jobs,” “Congress Created Dust Bowl.”
Locals say it’s been like this for two years now, as Congress and bureaucrats cite “drought,” “global warming” and “endangered species” to deny water to this $37 billion breadbasket through arbitrary “environmental” quotas.

Showalter reports, almost unbelievably: “Whatever the excuse, 75% of the fresh water that has historically irrigated California is now being washed to the open sea. For farmers in the southwest part of the valley, last year’s cutoff amounted to 90%.”
In short, there’s something funny about California’s dust bowl. It is man-made and has been brought to California farmers courtesy of the government.
California’s man-made drought has yet to attract its John Steinbeck to bring the plight of those affected to a national audience. Yet not all her readers have congratulated Showalter on telling the story now.
In a message regarding the response she has received to her story, Showalter writes: “The pudding to me seems to be in all the angry phone calls I am getting from the congressmen’s press secretaries, nitpicking about this and that and claiming they were never bought off. It sure sounds like something sensitive to them – one of them admitted to me that these guys were in tough reelection battles even though they are nominally in safe seats.”
JOHN adds: Diverting fresh water to flow uselessly into the ocean–that’s what Noah Cross did in Chinatown. Of course, he was one of the creepiest movie villains of all time, whereas now it’s being done by Congress and environmentalists. So it must be different, somehow.

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