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Devin Nunes

Leadership gap hinders federal drought response

WASHINGTON The federal response to the Western drought has been hindered by high-level vacancies, bureaucratic caution and political calculations that have thrown sand in the gears. Put another way: With more than 70 percent of California now classified in a state of "exceptional" or "extreme" drought, Uncle Sam is floundering. "We need leadership from the federal government," pleaded Cannon Michael, a politically engaged farmer from Los Banos in California's acutely dry San Joaquin Valley. But so far, dynamic federal leadership has been lacking. Some of that is inevitable. Western water use poses too many inherent conflicts to unify all factions. Some...