[env-trinity] Steinberg, Bass Pick Conference Committee/UFW Joins Fight Against Water Bond!
danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Wed Sep 2 11:11:54 PDT 2009
Here is my article on the conference committee for the water bills,
followed by a LA Times article about the UFW joining the fight
against water bond.
Photo of Bass and Steinberg courtesy of Darrell Steinberg's office.
Steinberg, Bass Pick Conference Committee to Push Peripheral Canal
by Dan Bacher
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass yesterday (September 1) named the
conferees to a politically stacked conference committee to
“reform” California’s water system in what appears to be a
thinly-veiled attempt to build the multi-billion dollar Peripheral
The conference committee will vote on a package of five water bills
that Delta advocates believe will serve as a “road map” to the
canal. Conspicuously missing from the 14 member committee are Delta
Legislators critical of the canal and water package including Senator
Lois Wolk (D-Davis), Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), Senator
Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), and Assemblymember Alyson Huber (D-El
Dorado Hills). The vast majority of committee members are from
southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.
The Senate conferees are Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
(D-Sacramento), Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Bakersfield),
Senator Alex Padilla (D- Pacoima), Senator Fran Pavley (D- Agoura
Hills), Senator Dave Cogdill (R- Modesto), Senator Sam Aanestad (R-
Grass Valley) and Senator Bob Huff (R- Diamond Bar). Steinberg will
chair the committee.
The Assembly conferees are Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles),
Assemblymember Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), Assemblymember Jean Fuller
(R-Bakersfield), Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael),
Assemblymember Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore), Assemblymember Jim
Nielsen (R-Gerber), Assemblymember Jose Solorio (D-Anaheim).
“I’m confident the Assembly’s conference committee members will
attack the decades-old challenge before us with gusto and with the
goal of producing a responsible and comprehensive plan that ensures a
safe, clean and sufficient water supply for California that meets the
needs of our environment and our economy,” Karen Bass said.
“It’s a difficult challenge but do-able -- and do-able in the
However, opponents of the canal were outraged that the committee
appears to be stacked to produce a pre-determined outcome – the
peripheral canal and increased water diversions to corporate
agribusiness and southern California at the expense of Delta farms
and collapsing Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations.
Sacramento River chinook salmon, green sturgeon, Delta smelt, longfin
smelt, striped bass, Sacramento splittail, American shad and striped
bass have declined to record low population levels in recent years,
due to massive increases in Delta water exports and declining water
“There are no legislators from the Delta region on the committee
other than Steinberg," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign
director of Restore the Delta (http://www.restorethedelta.org). “It
also appears that the majority of the Senate appointments are not
only pro-canal, but they support making large expenditures for water
infrastructure at a time when the state is in a great economic
“The omission of Legislators from the Delta is a grievous
oversight,” said Bill Jennings, excecutive director of the
California Sportfishing Protection Allianch (http://www.calsport.org).
Steinberg yesterday announced that the first conference committee
meeting Tuesday would take place at 3 p.m. Tueday, but that hearing
was cancelled. The committee was rescheduled to meet today September
2, at 9:00 a.m. in State Capitol room 4203. It will also meet
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday upon call of the chair in the same
room, room 4203.
“The conference has until Tuesday, September 8 to bring a final
conference report to the floor of both houses,” according to a news
release from Steinberg's office. “A conference report can only be
brought to the floor if eight conferees (four from the Senate and
four from the Assembly) sign the conference report.”
A broad coalition of recreational fishing groups, commercial fishing
organizations, environmental groups, Delta farmers and California
Indian Tribes is opposing the Legislature's attempt to push through a
water package that they say would reshape California water policy and
support the construction of a peripheral canal, Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s “Big Ditch.” They characterize the water deal
as “backdoor attack” on 130 years of California water law and
legal precedent and the Public Trust Doctrine.
“The similarities between this backroom water deal, which has left
Delta communities and fishing representatives out of the process, and
energy deregulation are startling,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “The
proposed package would allow the legislature to give up their
authority on oversight and costs regarding future decision regarding
the Delta (including new conveyance) to a seven member appointed
council, with six of the appointees coming from outside the Delta.”
The Council would have the authority to authorize the construction of
the peripheral canal. A draft economic report by Steven Kasower of
the Strategic Economic Applications Company, released to the
California Legislature last Tuesday, reveals that the costs for the
construction of a peripheral canal around the California Delta or a
tunnel under the estuary would be much higher than previously
estimated, ranging from $23 billion to $53.8 billion depending upon
the conveyance facility.
“The canal, a 48-mile long ditch comparable in size to the Panama
Canal, won't make more water for California,” Barrigan-Parrilla
stated. “It will just ship water from the north to Western Central
Valley Agribusiness - at the expense of Delta fisheries and Delta
Jennings slammed Steinberg's cynical attempt to ram the water bills
through the Legislature for political gain. "Steinberg seems to
believe that, given the Legislature's current 9-11% approval rating,
a water package is essential in order to improve the public's
perception of the Legislature - regardless of merits of the bills -
regardless of their effects on one of the great estuarine treasures
of the world," he said.
Jennings also said the push for the canal is "sadly reminiscent" of
the "mad rush" to the $50 billion energy deregulation fiasco. "If
Steinberg wishes to avoid becoming the Senator Peace, of energy
deregulation fame, perhaps he should consider that a vast majority of
his constituents are opposed to a peripheral canal,” he concluded.
A poll of 800 registered voters throughout California released Monday
indicates all segments of voters are strongly opposed to a Peripheral
Canal and nearly half oppose a bond for new dams, reservoirs or other
water infrastructure projects. The poll also disclosed that voters
believe that ensuring a long-term reliable water supply is a "very
Ruth Bernstein and Tom Patras of EMC Research in Oakland, CA
conducted the statewide voter survey on water issues on behalf of
Restore the Delta from August 23-27, 2009. For a full copy of the
report, go to http://www.calsport.org/DeltaWaterPollMemo.pdf
“There are better ways in terms of cost and environmental
effectiveness to make more water for California, such as water
recycling, floodplain restoration, groundwater cleanup and
desalinization, stormwater capture and reuse,” stated Barrigan-
Parrilla. “This needs to be the center of California's water policy,
especially in an era of excessive deficits.”
Barrigan-Parrilla and Jennings urged everybody concerned about the
future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its imperiled fish
populations, farms and people to immediately contact Senate President
pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to make clear their displeasure with his
promotion of this water package. His Capitol office number is (916)
To sign an on line petition against the peripheral canal and to send
a quick email to committee chairs, go to http://www.calsport.org.
From Yesterday's LA Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/
Farmworkers union has $1-million war chest to fight water bonds
September 1, 2009 | 5:52 pm
A new ripple appeared today in the fragile negotiations to overhaul
California’s water system, as the United Farm Workers union reported
receiving a $1-million donation that it could use to fight a possible
With 10 days left before the end of the legislative year, lawmakers
and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are scurrying to forge agreement on
measures to stabilize the state’s water supply and restore the
delicate ecosystem in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Schwarzenegger has insisted that a water bond be part of any
overhaul, to fund new storage capability underground and through
dams. Farming interests also support a bond.
The farmworkers union, which historically has not been flush with
cash, reported that the $1-million donation was made to a political
action committee called “United Farm Workers’ Committee to Oppose
Statewide Water Bonds.”
The union declined to comment about the money, which came from Change
to Win, a national labor coalition.
A water bond proposal would require voter approval.
Earlier today, state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento),
said a water overhaul was his No. 1 priority now.
"I want to get water done," he said. "The administration wants to get
it done. Many of the stakeholders want to get it done."
--Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento
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