[env-trinity] Fw: Schwarzenegger Starts 2009 by Shoving Peripheral Canal Down the California Taxpayer’s Throat

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Sat Jan 3 14:37:05 PST 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Dan Bacher 
Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 1:06 PM
Subject: Schwarzenegger Starts 2009 by Shoving Peripheral Canal Down the California Taxpayer’s Throat 

Photo of Governor Schwarzenegger calling for a special session of the California Legislature to deal with the budget deficit while pushing for a canal that would indebt generations of Californians for decades to come. Photo from the Governor's Office.


Schwarzenegger Starts New Year by Shoving Peripheral Canal Down the Taxpayer�s Throat�

by Dan Bacher�

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played a villain in the Terminator and other action flicks during his movie career, started the New Year playing the role of the �Fish Terminator� villain Friday by releasing an environmentally devastating plan to break ground for the peripheral canal in 2011.�

Schwarzenegger, realizing the opposition his plan faces in the State Legislature, plans to build the �dual conveyance� facility without the approval of the Legislature or the voters. The massive infrastructure project would feature a combination of through-Delta flows and outside of the Delta �peripheral� conveyance, supposedly to achieve the goals of "ecosystem restoration" and "reliable water supply" at the same time.�

The Governor�s hand-picked group of advisors, the Delta Vision Task Force, released its plan for the California Delta on January 2, missing the original deadline of December 31. The plan was released at 4:55 p.m. in the classic example of the �Friday night dump,� where controversial plans and documents are released by government agencies to avoid full scrutiny by reporters and the public, preferably at the end of a long holiday weekend.�

�There is no time to waste and we must accelerate implementation of near-term fundamental actions,� the plan states, in an attempt to convey a sense of urgency. �Additional delay will only compound the risk to the state and its citizens.��

Fish Flows to be Recommended after Canal Construction Begins!�

The plan includes a timeline of proposed actions and associated events for the destruction of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest and most significant estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. One of the amazing things about the plan is the sequence of events and actions it includes. While the plan's goal is to �break ground� for �new conveyance in 2011, the timeline doesn�t require the Department of Fish and Game to �recommend in stream flows� for the Delta until 2012!�

Wouldn�t it be more logical to only begin infrastructure construction after in stream flows for fish are recommended and secured? This prioritization of the canal over the needs of fish clearly demonstrates that the plans �eco language� of restoring the Delta is nothing other than green washing of the most environmentally destructive project in California history.�

After setting these and other timelines, the plan claims that the �Delta ecosystem must be protected and revitalized,� trying to demonstrate that the canal would �help fish,� in spite of no evidence cited in the document that the conveyance would do this.�

�Fish population crashes are only the most recent manifestations of a long decline in ecosystem health,� it goes on. �Several factors, including habitat destruction, invasive species and productivity losses to water diversions and flow alterations have together gravely damaged the largest estuary on the West Coast of the United States.��

Unfortunately, the implementation plan does nothing to mention the key role that massive increases of water exports from state and federal projects have played in the collapse of chinook salmon, steelhead, delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, striped bass and other Delta fish populations in recent years, only stating that �water diversions and flow alterations� are among the many factors implicated in the fish decline.�

Crucial data on the role of exports and other freshwater factors contained in recent independent scientific reports on the state of trout and salmon fisheries by California Trout, NRDC and other organizations, as well as past scientific reports by DFG biologist Frank Fisher and other experts about the primary role of exports in salmon declines, aren�t heeded by the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Panel.�

There�s No Money For the Canal�

The Governor�s advisors also vow to work with the legislature �to place a comprehensive water bond package on the next statewide ballot so that critical regional and state infrastructure and ecosystem restoration projects can move forward.� Estimates of the real cost of the water bond to the taxpayers would be anywhere from $12 to $24 billion � yet the Governor and State Legislature have been been battling for months over a massive budget deficit and the Governor has already ordered furloughs of state workers starting in February.�

According to Kelly Zito�s article in today�s S.F. Chronicle, �Delta Vision Committee members acknowledge the financial difficulties facing the state - namely a $41.5 billion budget deficit in 2010, but said the delta - and therefore the state's water system - depends heavily on additional funding.��

"We're going to have to work with Legislature," Michael Chrisman, Delta Vision Committee chairman and secretary of resources told her. "Given the budget situation we're going through right now, it's going to be a challenge."�

More than anything else, pushing for an enormously expensive and environmentally destructive plan that creates the infrastructure to export more water out of the Delta - when less water exports through increased conservation are what�s truly needed at a time of severe economic crisis - is pure insanity and a denial of economic reality!�

Habitat Restoration: A Green Washing Farce�

The plan does have some language about addressing global climate change and �large scale habitat� restoration that may appeal to some corporate-funded �environmental� groups that are willing to sell out Delta farmers, recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, California Indian Tribes and Delta residents in order to have a seat at the table with the Governor and his staff. The plant�s priorities include �an investment commitment and strategy to restore and sustain a vibrant and diverse Delta ecosystem including the protection and enhancement of agricultural lands that are compatible with Plan goals.��

However, it�s apparent that this is just �ecologically friendly� language to push through an ecologically unfriendly proposal to drive Delta farmers off their land and push the final nail in the coffin of Delta and Central Valley salmon fisheries.�

The ultimate irony of this proposal is that it is designed to convert much of the Delta into salt and brackish marsh by breeching levees and taking some of the most productive alluvial soil on the face of the planet out of agricultural production in order to provide conveyance to irrigate drainage impaired toxic soil on the west of the side of the San Joaquin Valley that should have been taken out of production years ago! Why are the Governor and his �advisors� willing to destroy Delta farming and fisheries � and the northern California economy � to provide subsidized water to corporate agribusiness on land that should have never been farmed?�

�This plan will turn the Delta into a Disneyland-type of park to provide historical reminiscences of what the estuary once was,� said Barbara Barrigan Parrillla, campaign coordinator of Restore the Delta. �However, it doesn�t matter if you put every piece of land in the Delta into habitat, it won�t make any difference to fish restoration if water is not allowed to flow through the Delta naturally. If the water isn�t there, more habitat won�t help the fish.��

Very well said, Barbara!�

New Year Brings New Name For Resources Agency�

As the Governor and Delta Vision panel were finishing up their peripheral canal plan, a release from the Resources Agency on December 29 proclaimed that �The Resources Agency will adopt a new name, the California Natural Resources Agency, on Jan. 1, 2009 to better reflect its primary mission. Since 1961, the Resources Agency has been responsible for the safeguarding and stewardship of California�s precious natural resources.��

In July, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1464 (Maldonado) authorizing the Resources Agency to change its name to the California Natural Resources Agency. �The new Agency logo will remain largely the same and the change will be phased in gradually as new supplies are ordered. In this way there will be little or no cost to the Agency or any of its departments, boards or commissions save for any replacement costs that would normally be incurred,� the release stated.�

Wouldn�t it be more appropriate for the Resources Agency to adopt a name that truly reflects its REAL primary mission? Based on my years covering California fisheries, this mission appears to be presiding over the collapse of Central Valley salmon fisheries, engineering the decline of the Delta�s pelagic fish populations, building a peripheral canal, constructing more dams, slashing funds for salmon and steelhead restoration, and instituting massive closures of public trust fisheries throughout the state�s ocean waters.�

�If the goal of this agency is to promote a peripheral canal, the agency should be renamed the Natural Destruction Agency,� quipped Parrilla.�

Other potential names for the former Resources Agency could be �Bureau of Corporate Greenwashing,� �Raping of Natural Resources Agency,� �No More Natural Resorurces Agency,� �The Fish Termination Agency,� or the �Water Exports Agency.� Hey, if you have any ideas for names for the former Resources Agency befitting its current �mission,� email me at danielbacher [at] fishsniffer.com.�

Here�s the link to the Delta Vision�s final plan: http://resources.ca.gov/docs/Delta_Vision_Committee_Implementation_Report.pdf�

Delta Vision Priorities:�

The priorities that form the foundation for a sustainable Delta include the following �fundamental actions�:�

� A new system of dual water conveyance through and around the Delta to protect municipal, agricultural, environmental, and the other beneficial uses of water;�

� An investment commitment and strategy to restore and sustain a vibrant and diverse Delta ecosystem including the protection and enhancement of agricultural lands that are compatible with Plan goals;�

� Additional storage to allow greater system operational flexibility that will benefit water supplies for both humans and the environment and adapt to a changing climate;�

� An investment plan to protect and enhance unique and important characteristics of the Delta region.�

� A comprehensive Delta emergency preparedness strategy and a fully integrated Delta emergency response plan;�

� A plan to significantly improve and provide incentives for water conservation � through both wise use and reuse � in both urban and agricultural sectors throughout the state;�

� Strong incentives for local and regional efforts to make better use of new sources of water such as brackish water cleanup and seawater desalination; and�

� An improved governance system that has reliable funding, clear authority to determine priorities and strong performance measures to ensure accountability to the new governing doctrine of the Delta: operation for the coequal goals. Completion of this fundamental action is absolutely essential to the sustained operation and maintenance of all of these recommendations.

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