[env-trinity] AlterNet 11 19 09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Nov 19 09:55:15 PST 2009

How Limousine Liberals, Water Oligarchs and Even Sean Hannity Are Hijacking
Our Water Supply


By Yasha Levine


A group of water oligarchs in California have engineered a disastrous
deregulation and privatization scheme. And they've pulled in hundreds of
millions of taxpayer dollars without causing much public outrage. The amount
of power and control they wield over California's most precious resource,
water, should shock and frighten us -- and it would, if more people were
aware of it. 


But here is the scary thing: They are plotting to gain an even larger share
of California's increasingly-scarce, over-tapped water supply, which will
surely lead to shortages, higher prices and untold destruction to
California's environment.  


California is in year three of a fairly nasty dry spell. And some very
powerful forces are not letting this mini-crisis go to waste, fiercely
lobbying Governor Schwarzenegger and Senator Dianne Feinstein, paying off
corporate shills like Fox News' Sean Hannity and capitalizing on people's
fear of drought to push a massive waterworks project that will pump more
water, build more dams and keep sucking the state's rivers dry. 


The fearmongering schtick goes like this: California is on the brink of a
water crisis of cataclysmic proportions, with a life-or-death struggle just
around the corner, pitting small farmers who want to save their livelihood
against big city elitists who care more about the environment than they do
about American jobs. 


But in reality, this drought hysteria is nothing more than political
theatrics, a scare tactic backed by big agribusiness to strong-arm
California voters into building a multi-billion dollar system of dams and
canals that would not really help small farmers -- of which there are very
few anyway -- but would deliver more water to corporations, subsidize their
landholdings, fuel real estate development and enable large-scale water
privatization. At its core, it is a war waged for water by California's
megarich on everyone else.  


The leader of these recent water privatization efforts in California is a
Beverly Hills billionaire named Stewart Resnick. Stewart and his wife, Lynda
Resnick, own Roll International Corporation, a private umbrella company that
controls the flowers-by-wire company Teleflora, Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful,
pesticide manufacturer Suterra and Paramount Agribusiness, the largest
farming company in America and the largest pistachio and almond producer in
the world. Roll Corp. was ranked #246 on Forbes' list of America's largest
private companies in 2008 and had an estimated revenue of $1.98 billion in


They are a limousine liberal power couple. Hyperactive in politics, business
and philanthropy, the two raise huge amounts of cash for the Democratic
party, donate to the arts, support education and hobnob with influential
progressives like Arianna Huffington and the anti-global warming activist
and producer of An Inconvenient Truth, Laurie David. 


Stewart Resnick gave over $350,000 to the Gray Davis campaign and various
anti-recall groups between 2000 and 2003, a favor Governor Davis returned by
appointing Resnick to co-chair his agriculture-water transition team. 


A shrewd businesswoman, Lynda is credited with single-handedly creating the
pomegranate health fad to sell her Pom Wonderful and catapulted Fiji Water
to its recent success, one that environmentalists love to hate as was
recently documented in Mother Jones by Anna Lenzer.  


But there is a gaping hole in most accounts of the jet-set Baby Boomer
couple: their company, Roll International, is one of the largest, if not the
largest, private water brokers in America. Through a series of subsidiary
companies and organizations, Roll International is able to convert
California's water from a public, shared resource into a private asset that
can be sold on the market to the highest bidder. 


It all comes down to Stewart Resnick's involvement in the creation of a
powerful but little-known entity called the Kern County Water Bank -- an
underground water storage facility at the center of a plan to bring
deregulation to California's most important public utility: water. 


According to a 2003 Public Citizen report titled "Water Heist," the Kern
County Water Bank is an underground reservoir in the hottest, driest,
southernmost edge of the Central Valley with a capacity of 1 million
acre-feet, enough to convert the entire state of Rhode Island into a
swampland one-foot deep or supply the City of Los Angeles with water for 1.7
years. The water bank was envisioned in the late '80s by the Department of
Water Resources as a safeguard against prolonged drought. 


During wet years, it would serve as a repository for excess water coming in
from Northern California and the Sierras, and pumped out in dry years.
California spent nearly a hundred million dollars to develop the underground
reservoir and connect it to the state's public canals and aqueducts, but in
1995, California's Department of Water Resources suddenly, and without any
public debate, transferred it to a handful of corporate interests.



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

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




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