From The Associated Press (Suman Naishadham):
Vice President Kamala Harris stood before the record-low water levels of Nevada’s Lake Mead on Monday and made the case for the Biden administration’s climate change agenda by warning that “this is where we’re headed.”
“Look at where the water has receded over just the last 20 years,” she said, referring to the “bathtub ring” of minerals that marks where the reservoir’s water line previously stood. “That space is larger than the height of the Statue of Liberty.”
The vice president pitched the administration’s infrastructure and social safety net agenda as critical to tackling the effects of climate change — which scientists say intensify extreme weather events such as heatwaves and droughts.
Democrats have struggled to win support for that plan from some members of their party, who want to winnow down its $3.5 trillion price tag.
Harris made the case for the package by connecting human-caused climate change to the scene she stood near, saying emissions are “part of what is contributing to these drought conditions.”
Federal officials in August declared the first-ever water shortage in the Colorado River, which means Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will receive less water than normal next year amid a gripping Western drought.
In September, Reclamation released projections showing an even worse outlook for the river.
While California is spared from next year’s cuts, the nation’s most populous state has experienced one of its driest years on-record while battling scores of catastrophic wildfires.
In arguing for the $1 trillion public works infrastructure deal, Harris referenced the “good union jobs” that the spending package would create, naming pipefitters, electricians and plumbers as examples. That plan passed the Senate months ago and is awaiting House approval.
It contains roughly $8 billion for Western water projects, including desalination technology to make sea water usable, modernizing rural water infrastructure and building greater capacity to recycle wastewater.
Harris also spoke about the Biden administration’s proposed civilian Climate Corps, which it has said would create hundreds of thousands of jobs building trails, restoring streams and helping stop devastating wildfires…
Harris on Monday met with federal and regional water officials such as Tanya Trujillo, assistant interior secretary for water and science, and U.S. Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford of Nevada.
Passing Biden’s signature social services and climate change plans would serve future generations, Harris said, “in a way that will not only be about life, but about … beautiful places like Lake Mead.”
From The Deseret News (Hunter Schwarz):
Water levels at Lake Mead fell this year to their lowest point since the reservoir was created in the 1930s, and in August, the U.S. government declared the first ever water shortage on the Colorado River.
“When we look at what’s happening here, we know this is about this lake, but it is about a region and it is about our nation,” Harris said.
Harris said Biden’s agenda was “thoughtful and foresightful,” and that along with the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill currently in Congress, would make investments “in things like water recycling and reuse, what we can do in terms of water desalination, what we can do in terms of implementation of drought contingency plans.”
“This is about thinking ahead, recognizing where we are and where we’re headed,” Harris said…
About half of all adults in western states said they’ve seen extreme weather events happening more often in their region, according to a Pew Research survey released Thursday. Currently, 90% of the West is in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and wildfires in California this year surpassed 4 million acres burned earlier this month, a record. The only regions with higher percentages of residents saying they’ve noticed extreme weather events on the rise were the West South Central region, which includes Texas and Louisiana which have been ravaged by hurricanes, and the Middle Atlantic.
Pew found wide support for the federal government to take action when it comes to building systems to make wastewater reusable in dry regions, with 88% of U.S. adults saying it is very or somewhat important. But there was a sharp partisan divide. The poll found 64% of Democrats support the federal government taking action, compared with 36% of Republicans.