LaMalfa has voted repeatedly to elevate the interests of a handful of senior water rights holders over protection of the environment and has opposed efforts to protect people and property against flood impacts.
LaMalfa participates in an irrigation district that is a “senior water rights” holder, one of only a few thousand such holders in the state. LaMalfa has voted to revise existing environmental and other laws to clear the way for sales of water to Central and Southern California by senior water rights holders in Northern California. He recently co-sponsored a bill that would cause federal law to trump state water law (to the benefit of senior water rights beneficiaries like himself) and exempt state water projects from compliance with certain environmental laws. A UC Davis law professor has said about the bill: “The deep flaws and agribusiness handouts littered throughout this 137-page bill are far too numerous to recount.” In 2014, LaMalfa supported a bill to ease environmental restrictions to permit a transfer of Northern California water to the Westlands Water District in the middle of the drought.
As a member of the California Legislature, LaMalfa voted
- against a bill that would have required groundwater extractors to report the volume of their extractions to the State,
- against a bill requiring the Central Valley Project to develop a strategic flood plan, against a bill to require that local governments certify that residential development projects have 100-year flood protection,
- against a bill that required the Department of Water Resources to prepare a Central Valley Flood Protection Plan,
- against a bill making local governments jointly liable with the state if they unreasonably allowed new development in a previously undeveloped area protected by a state flood control project, and
- against a bill to require state and local water agencies to incorporate climate change impacts into local water plans.