[env-trinity] Fresno Bee July 6 2009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Jul 7 14:35:52 PDT 2009


Lawyer again plumbs depths of state water issues 


Fresno Bee-7/6/09


By Michael Doyle 

 

David J. Hayes is once again No. 2 at the Interior Department and No. 1 for
California water.

 

Call it political déjà vu. 

 

After an eight-year absence, the Stanford-trained environmental lawyer has
reclaimed both the California water portfolio and the title as deputy
secretary of the Interior. The high-profile, high-risk assignment puts him
back in the middle of the Central Valley’s interminable fish-vs.-farm water
disputes.

 

“I expect I’ll have to pay taxes in California, I’ll be spending so much
time out there,” Hayes said, half-jokingly.

 

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar introduced Hayes as his department’s go-to
California water guy at a Fresno town hall meeting a week ago. Beyond
serving as what he calls the “chief operating officer” of the $10
billion-a-year Interior Department, Hayes will coordinate the Obama
administration’s role in California water use. 

 

When Valley congressmen are unhappy, they’ll call Hayes. When irrigation
district officials want their concerns really heard, Hayes is their man.
When decisions get made on protecting species or approving projects, Hayes
will be in the middle of things.

 

Unsolved dilemmas are now his problem, including what to do about irrigation
drainage on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side. Specific proposals will now
float across his desk. 

 

These might range from a proposed “Inter-tie” connecting California’s state
and federal aqueducts to a proposed $26 million “Two Gates” project that
would permit more irrigation deliveries by protecting fish from being sucked
into Delta-area water pumps.

 

“Both projects are on our radar screen,” Hayes said, adding that “we’re
going to give a vigorous review” to the Two Gates proposal widely promoted
by Valley lawmakers.

 

California’s complex water challenges have long invited the appointment of
special emissaries.

 

“I’m pleased the president has assigned somebody to California water,” said
Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa. “That offers a little bit of hope they
will actually do something.”

 

For Hayes, the burden is a familiar one. A 55-year-old native of New York
state, Hayes graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Stanford Law
School. Active in environmental issues, and a former vice chair of the board
of American Rivers, Hayes was deputy Interior secretary during the Clinton
administration.

 

Between 1999 and 2001, Hayes focused on Colorado River conflicts and
California’s Bay-Delta problems, among others.

 

Hayes returned to the law firm Latham & Watkins after his Clinton
administration job expired. There, public records show, he was registered as
a lobbyist for San Diego Gas & Electric, the Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California and a handful of other firms.

 

The lobbying registrations temporarily impeded Hayes’ confirmation for the
Interior Department post, as did some of his commentary about Republican
environmental postures.

 

“Like Ronald Reagan before him, President Bush has embraced the Western
stereotype to the point of adopting some of its affectations, the boots,
brush-clearing and get-the-government-off-our-backs bravado,” Hayes wrote in
April 2006 for the Progressive Policy Institute. 

 

Under questioning by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Hayes conceded
his anti-Bush language was “overly florid.”

 

Hayes’ 11-page article, though, also promoted what he termed a “moderate”
Western agenda that included more federal flexibility in dealing with
private landowners and avoidance of a “Washington-is-always-right model” of
decision-making.

 

Now, overseeing 70,000 Interior Department employees, Hayes will get a
chance to put his stated principles into practice.# 

 

http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/1517810.html

 

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
(secondary)

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 

 

 

 

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