[env-trinity] SF Chron 2 12 10

Emelia Berol ema.berol at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 13 08:35:50 PST 2010

From: Byron Leydecker <bwl3 at comcast.net>
To: FOTR List <fotr at mailman.dcn.org>; Trinity List <env-trinity at mailman.dcn.org>
Sent: Fri, February 12, 2010 3:25:02 PM
Subject: [env-trinity] SF Chron 2 12 10

Feinstein proposes Central Valley water plan
Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington
Friday, February 12,
(02-12) 04:00 PST
Washington --- Sen. Dianne Feinstein ignited a firestorm among fellow
California Democrats on Thursday as word spread of her proposal to divert
Northern California water to Central Valley farmers.
View Larger Images 
Feinstein needs to be put on notice that she will have to become a Republican if she wants to run for governor in this state. 
She might as well switch parties, she has never been a true Democrat anyway. 

More News
Feinstein wants to attach the proposal as an
amendment to a fast-tracked Senate jobs bill. She is pitching the plan as a
jobs measure to address the economic calamity in the Central Valley. It would
increase farm water allocations from 10 percent last year to 40 percent this
year and next, an amount that farmers say is the bare minimum they need.
Bay Area Democrats were livid, accusing
Feinstein of concocting the plan in secret, upending fragile water negotiations
that Feinstein has supported and pitting California's Central Valley against
its coast. Telephone calls flew as lawmakers learned of Feinstein's plan. 
"I was pretty shocked," said Rep.
Mike Thompson, a St. Helena Democrat and ally of North Coast salmon fishermen
who support efforts to save fish species that are declining. 
Influential farmer
Feinstein has long supported California
agriculture but began to weigh in on the side of farmers in the water wars
after requests from Stewart Resnick, the well-connected owner of Paramount
Farms, which grows citrus and nuts on 118,000 acres in Kern County. 
In September, Resnick wrote Feinstein
complaining that "sloppy science" by federal wildlife agencies was
causing farm water shortages. A week later, Feinstein forwarded the letter to
Obama administration officials, who authorized a review by the National Academy
of Sciences.
"It seems to be a complete reversal of her
position," Thompson said. "The entire Bay Area delegation had agreed
we would do this National Academy of Sciences report to find out scientifically
what should and shouldn't be done, and for her to turn that on its head and go
out unilaterally with this proposal does not take into consideration the needs
of all of California."
Thompson accused Feinstein of "trying to
spin this as a job saver, but that ignores the jobs up north that depend on
water." He compared Feinstein's plan to the Bush administration's water
diversions in the Klamath River Basin in 2002 that severely damaged fisheries
and were later reversed.
Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said,
"Best I can see, she's making a decision that jobs in the Bay Area and
Northern California and the Peninsula south of San Francisco aren't as
important as jobs in the Central Valley."
Feinstein contends that the amendment to the
jobs bill would not waive the Endangered Species Act but instead follow a 2003
precedent that guaranteed water deliveries in New Mexico despite restrictions
imposed to protect the silvery minnow. 
Miller, a former chairman of the House Natural
Resources Committee, said Feinstein's amendment would suspend federal
environmental laws that protect fish.
Verifying the science
Feinstein made no mention Thursday of her
demand for the National Academy of Sciences report, due next month, to verify
the science behind fish-conservation demands.
Resnick's business has given $29,000 to
Feinstein's campaigns and $246,000 more to Democratic political committees
during years when she sought re-election, according to a report by California
Watch, an investigative journalism nonprofit organization, that was published
in The Chronicle in December.
Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater (Merced County),
defended Feinstein's move. "The situation in the valley is continuing to
deteriorate, and we have a situation where even with more rain than usual, we
could have less allocations than last year," Cardoza said. He said even
with large cutbacks in water allocations to farmers, delta smelt and other fish
populations have not improved.
Cardoza said recent studies show the pumps that
environmentalists say pulverize fish are in fact destroying only a handful.
"The pumps were shut down for six or 10 additional fish," Cardoza
said. "This is the height of insanity, and it's time we quit devastating
the California economy and understand what is really going on here."
In a statement Thursday, Feinstein said that
recent weeks of heavy rain and Sierra snowfall have brought snowpacks to 130
percent of their normal level. At the same time, "water has been gushing
past the canals and into the oceans while farms on the west side of the
(Central) Valley are likely to receive a very low percentage of their water
allocations for a second year because that water cannot be pumped and
Political jockeying
Feinstein's action comes after months of
political jockeying between Republicans and Democrats over whether the
Endangered Species Act is destroying California's farming industry. Several
fisheries on the coast from southern Oregon to San Luis Obispo have been shut
down for three years for lack of runoff, idling commercial and recreational
fishing and devastating the small businesses that depend on it. 
Farmers have also seen water supplies
evaporate. Before this season's heavy rains, a three-year drought forced big
cuts in their water allotments, forcing 400,000 acres to lie fallow and pushing
unemployment in some towns toward 40 percent.
Farmers, fishermen and environmentalists had
been negotiating on a long-term remedy to the decline of California's delta
estuary, one of the largest in the world and on a scale with Florida's
Everglades, but even more heavily damaged by a century of water diversions.
Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends
of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA
415 383 4810
land/fax (call first to fax)
415 519 4810
bwl3 at comcast.net
bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)

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