[env-trinity] Fwd: Delta Stewardship Council Adopts Plan Amidst Massive Opposition/Three fracking moratorium bills pass Assembly Resources Committee

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Sat May 18 09:31:53 PDT 2013

This does impact the Trinity River.  All of the comments to the Delta Stewardship Council about protecting the Trinity River were completely blown off.

Tom Stokely
Water Policy Analyst/Media Contact
California Water Impact Network
V/FAX 530-926-9727
Cell 530-524-0315
tstokely at att.net

From: Dan Bacher <danielbacher at fishsniffer.com>
Date: May 17, 2013 6:02:58 PM PDT
Subject: Delta Stewardship Council Adopts Plan Amidst Massive Opposition/Three fracking moratorium bills pass Assembly Resources Committee 


Nicky Suard, owner of Snug Harbor Resorts in Walnut Grove on the Delta, summed up the lack of credible science in the Delta Plan and the EIR when she described it as "Salad Bowl Science," where the plan officials "pick and choose" the science to justify their pre-determined goals. 

"Don't pass this plan," Suard urged the Council. "It will destroy the Delta and everything in it." 

Photo of Wendy Stokes, Chair of Restore the Delta, speaking at the protest at the Delta Stewardship Council meeting in West Sacramento on May 16. Photo by Dan Bacher. 

original image ( 5184x3456)

Delta Stewardship Council Adopts Plan Amidst Massive Opposition 

by Dan Bacher 

In spite of overwhelming opposition from environmentalists, fishermen, family farmers, elected officials and the majority of Californians, the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) on Thursday, May 16 unanimously adopted what it described as a "comprehensive management plan" for the Delta. 

The Council also certified the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR), despite opposition to the report from every single person who spoke during the public comment period, ranging from Delta farmers to a representative of the Metropolitan Water District. In addition, the Council adopted regulations that will implement the policies of the Delta Plan. 

“State law told us to develop a legally enforceable Delta Plan that will guide state and local agency actions on water use and the Delta environment,” said Delta Stewardship Council Chair Phil Isenberg, who previously served as Chair of the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, as well as Chair of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, which recommended the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnels. 

“We will now be able to focus on implementing the policies and recommendations that will help achieve the State’s coequal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem while protecting the unique values of the Delta as an evolving place," Isenberg claimed. 

A press release from the DSC revealed how the Delta Plan is intimately tied to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels. (http://deltacouncil.ca.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/13-0516%20Council%20Adopts%20final%20Delta%20Plan.pdf) 

“The Delta Plan is California’s plan for the Delta and is intended to be a single enforceable blueprint that requires and encourages sustainable actions now, and lays a strong foundation for future projects and programs that will improve statewide water supply reliability, provide a vibrant and healthy ecosystem, and preserve, protect and enhance the rural, agricultural and recreational characteristics of the Delta. The Plan will eventually include the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) when the BDCP is completed and successfully permitted,” the release stated. 

Delta advocates, who held a protest featuring the "Death of the Delta" coffin at the Radisson Hotel in West Sacramento before the meeting, disagreed strongly with Isenberg's contention that the plan would protect, restore and enhancing the Delta ecosystem "while protecting the unique values of the Delta as an evolving place." They said the flawed plan would "drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries." 

Delta plan perpetuates unsustainable status quo 

Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, began his presentation at both the rally and in the public comment period at the meeting by stating, "Good morning, welcome to the resumption of California's water wars." 

"The Delta Plan fails to comply with the law, and perpetuates an unsustainable status quo that enriches a few powerful water brokers at the expense of reliable water supplies and healthy fisheries," said Jennings. "It is a classic shell game to benefit special interests and, if implemented, would represent a death sentence for one of the world's great estuaries." 

"The Council has squandered a marvelous and unique opportunity," emphasized Jennings. "Because the Council failed to identify and analyze the root causes of California’s water crisis – over-appropriation, unreasonable use, failure to balance the public trust – the Delta Plan and EIR largely recommends that agencies should continue to do the same things that created the crisis in the first place. The Plan and EIR ignore history and are predicated on an artificial reality. They’re little more than omelets of half-truth and distortion to justify predetermined conclusions." 

Referring to the failed Cal-Fed process designed to meet the "co-equal goals" of water supply and ecosystem restoration, Jennings said, "Instead of vision, we have a warmed over CalFed Lite!" 

"Instead of perpetuating the destructive water export policies, the Delta Plan should be focused on developing regional water solutions that reduce reliance on the Delta," said Wendy Stokes, a Delta farmer and chair of Restore the Delta. "The Delta Stewardship Council has abandoned the path of sustainable water policies to help endorse the Peripheral Tunnels. Agriculture will not be able to afford this expensive water. The majority of the $60 billion cost will be paid by the families of Southern California through their higher water bills." 

Water “reliability” – code for more water 

"The stated purpose of the Delta Plan is to provide water ‘reliability’ for Southern California users. ‘Reliability,’ in this case, is code for more water," said Nick Di Croce, co-facilitator of the California Environmental Water Caucus, and board member of the California Water Impact Network. "The delta cannot be saved, and its ecological crisis cannot be addressed, by taking out more water. The real crisis for the delta is that state and federal agencies have committed to deliver five times more water than is available; these unrealistic commitments need to be revised." 

Stockton City Councilmember Kathy Miller, representing the Delta Coalition, blasted the Delta Stewardship Council and the Brown Administration for failing to conduct an analysis to determine how much water is available for export. 

"Until this water availability analysis is done, there is no way to know how much water is available for export," she said. "The Delta Plan nevertheless endorses building huge Peripheral Tunnels. This places the cart before the horse." 

She also criticized the Council for not addressing the dire economic impacts of the tunnels on the city of Stockton, a community where the population of people living in poverty has risen 56 percent in the past decade. "We need an open hand, not a closed fist," she said. "We need policies that enhance jobs creation and capital investment." 

The Delta plan’s true purpose: get around biological opinions 

The tunnel opponents said the true purpose of the Delta Plan is to get around the court "biological opinions" that restrict water exports in order to protect Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales (orcas), which forage on Sacramento River Chinook salmon, from extinction. 

"The courts have found that water exporters have threatened the very survival of several fish species. Now, instead of reducing water exports, the Delta Plan endorses simply moving the point of export to a different spot in the Delta," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. 

Independent scientists have found that the removal of more Delta flows through the Peripheral Tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species. "Yet, that is what the Delta Plan endorses," said Jennings. 

Jennings concluded, "We have urged the Council to analyze and incorporate the findings of the legislatively mandated flow reports by the Water Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Delta Protection Commission’s Economic Sustainability Plan. Following an extensive proceeding involving agencies, academia and non-governmental organizations, the Water Board concluded that a substantial increase in Delta outflow and a return to a more natural hydrograph were necessary to protect public trust resources. The Delta Plan EIR didn’t even consider that report as a major source of information." 

Dick Pool, Secretary of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, criticized the failure of the plan to address the recovery needs of Central Valley salmon. 

"The salmon cannot be restored with only habitat changes in the Delta," said Pool. "There is a large body of science including the state and federal agencies that recognize that only a combination of both upriver habitat and Delta actions can restore the salmon populations. Delta operations, specifically the pumps in the South Delta, with their strong impact on upstream water movements and reservoir operations, severely impact the survival of juvenile salmon above the Delta. The Delta Plan fails to address these issues." 

Salad Bowl Science 

Nicky Suard, owner of Snug Harbor Resorts in Walnut Grove on the Delta, summed up the lack of credible science in the Delta Plan and the EIR when she described it as "Salad Bowl Science," where the plan officials "pick and choose" the science to justify their pre-determined goals. 

"Don't pass this plan," Suard urged the Council. "It will destroy the Delta and everything in it." 

In her written comments to the Council, Carolee Krieger, President of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), shredded the Final Delta Plan. 

"We find the Final Delta Plan utterly deficient," said Krieger. "It is nothing more than a continuation of the policy that has destroyed the largest estuary on the west coast of the continental United States and instigated the state's water wars. As such, it is not a solution to our water crisis, but a disastrous adherence to the status quo." 

"It speaks to special interests, not the public interest," she stated. "It has been an unconscionable waste of taxpayer money, in that it sedulously avoids any course of action that would lead to the pragmatic and equitable distribution of our water while simultaneously protecting the Delta." 

The pleas of Suard, Krieger and everybody who spoke against the plan and EIR’s adoption fell on deaf ears. 

As was the case in the parallel Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan “collaborative” processes, the goal was to present a façade of an open and transparent process where the “input” of the “stakeholders” was considered when the outcome of the process, the privatization of the public trust, was predetermined by state officials and corporate interests. 

Council refused to conduct necessary analyses: 

Restore the Delta, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, the Environmental Water Caucus and the Delta Coalition said they had implored the Council to undertake a series of necessary analyses because the responsible agencies have refused to conduct them. These include: 

• A water availability analysis essential for addressing over appropriation and separating real water from paper water and the legal rights to it. 

• A benefit/cost analysis indispensable for maximizing the use of limited resources for the greatest good for all Californians. 

• A public trust analysis crucial for ensuring that the common property rights of all Californian’s are protected and balanced against those of special interests. 

• A beneficial use assessment addressing the extent that consumptive water is wasted and unreasonably used. 

For more information about the campaign to stop the peripheral tunnels, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org


Photo courtesy of Food and Water Watch  


Three fracking moratorium bills pass Assembly Resources Committee, then go into Appropriations suspense file 

by Dan Bacher 

Despite intense political pressure by the oil industry, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 29 approved three bills proposing to halt fracking (hydraulic fracturing), a controversial method of oil and natural gas extraction, in California. 

Fracking opponents fear that increased water diversions destined for the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will be used for expanding fracking in Monterey Shale deposits in the San Joaquin Valley and coastal areas. The construction of the tunnels is expected to hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species. 

The three bills were referred to the Appropriations Committee suspense file on May 15. (http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml) 

"We are extremely optimistic that these bills will keep moving forward," said Kassie Seigel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "They can do so as one year or as two year bills. We're doing everything we can to push them forward and we'll know more on the status of the legislation at the end of this month." 

Richard Bloom’s A.B. 1301, Holly Mitchell’s A.B. 1323 and Adrin Nazarian’s A.B. 649 would place a moratorium on fracking while threats posed by the controversial practice to California’s environment and public health are studied, according to a news release from Food and Water Watch. 

The bills are strongly opposed by the Western States Petroleum Association, headed by their President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” on the South Coast. 

In an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 12, Reheis-Boyd disputed claims by environmental and consumer groups that fracking in California is “destructive and unregulated.” 

“In truth, hydraulic fracturing has been used in California for 60-plus years, is not destructive and has never been linked to any environmental harm here. The process is and has been closely regulated. California's well construction and testing regulations that protect our groundwater are the strictest in the nation,” she wrote. (http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Fracking-has-viable-future-in-California-4506267.php) 

Groups cite lack of regulations and monitoring 

A.B. 1301 author Assemblyman Richard Bloom and fracking opponents strongly dispute Reheis-Boyd’s claims that fracking is environmentally sustainable and is already adequately regulated. 

"Fracking operations have skyrocketed throughout the country and in California as new technologies have enabled the extraction of oil and natural gas deposits from previously unreachable geological formations," said Bloom. "However, fracking uses and produces highly toxic chemicals that can pose serious threats to public health and the environment." (http://asmdc.org/members/a50/news-room/e-newsletters/legislative-update) 

"The threat is significant enough that 14 states have now enacted legislation restricting or banning the practice until safeguards are in place. Currently, California does not regulate or monitor fracking despite holding the largest oil reserve in the continental United States, the Monterey Shale," he explained. 

Food & Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity and Clean Water Action are sponsors of A.B. 1301. The California Nurses Association, Breast Cancer Action, Family Farm Defenders and more than 100 other health, labor, environmental and social justice organizations support the bill. 

“Oil and gas wells have been fracked in at least nine California counties without fracking-specific regulation or even monitoring by state oil and gas officials,” according to Food and Water Watch. “Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, employs huge volumes of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals — including known carcinogens — to blast open rock formations and release previously inaccessible fossil fuels.” 

Kristin Lynch, Pacific region director for Food & Water Watch, said the Natural Resources Committee “sided with the people of California” when it voted to advance legislation that places a moratorium on fracking. 

“From the food that California farmers grow today to the long-term future of our state’s water resources and air, California’s economy and vital resources hang in the balance if we allow fracking to continue in California,” stated Lynch. 

“This is a huge win for Californians threatened by fracking pollution,” said Kassie Siegel. “These bills will protect the air we breathe and the water we drink from cancer-causing chemicals and other fracking pollutants. That’s why a fracking moratorium is supported by nurses, farmers and so many others concerned about our state’s health and environment.” 

Fracking linked to pollution 

Siegel said fracking is linked to air and water pollution and releases large amounts of methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas. About 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, according to scientists with the Endocrine Disruption Exchange. 

Andrew Grinberg of Clean Water Action also applauded the Assembly Committee vote. 

“This vote is an important step in the effort to protect California from the dangers of fracking,” said Grinberg. “This committee gets it that the state needs to slow down and assess the many threats to our air, water, climate and communities of extreme oil extraction.” 

Grinberg said fracking pollutes the air by releasing dangerous petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene, toluene and xylene. It can also increase levels of ground-level ozone, a key risk factor for asthma and other respiratory illness. 

According to a Colorado School of Public Health study, air pollution caused by fracking contributes to the risk of asthma, cancer, and other health problems in people living near fracked wells, A.B. 649, A.B. 1301 and A.B. 1323 will next go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

Fracking uses large volumes of water 

The huge volume of water used and contaminated by fracking is a critical issue for California, especially when Governor Jerry Brown is rushing the construction of the peripheral tunnels to export water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to corporate agribusiness and oil companies. 

Lynch cited a new report from the Western Organization of Resource Councils that estimates that fracking consumes about 7 billion gallons of water in four western states where fracking has become widespread. 

The report, titled “Gone for Good,” warns that water consumption by the oil and gas industry “simply cannot be sustained.” 

The current amount of water used for fracking in California is not currently known. In a post on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) website on March 210, Richard Stapler, Deputy Secretary for Communications of the California Natural Resources Agency, claimed that only 8 acre feet of water is used every year for hydraulic fracturing in California, in an apparent attempt to minimize the amount of water employed for fracking. (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/blog/blog/13-03-20/Oil_Water.aspx_) 

Yet in a footnote at the bottom, Stapler states, "For reference, you could multiply the average of 87,375 gallons with every injection well in the state (about 25,000) and still come up with a relatively small amount of water -- 6,721 acre feet, or water for about 27,000 average families for a year." 

Stapler never responded to my email inquiry over the enormous discrepancy in the water he claims is used for fracking per year– 8 acre feet of water in one section of his article and 6,721 acre feet in another. 

One thing is for certain - oil companies use big quantities in their current oil drilling operations in Kern County, although the amount specifically used in fracking operations is hard to pinpoint. Much of this water this comes through the State Water Project's California Aqueduct and the Central Valley Water Project's Delta-Mendota Canal, spurring increasing conflicts between local farmers and oil companies over available water. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-Water-for-fracking-8-acre-feet-6-721-acre-feet-or-much-much-more.php) 

"In the time since steamflooding was pioneered here in the fields of Kern County in the 1960s, oil companies statewide have pumped roughly 2.8 trillion gallons of fresh water—or, in the parlance of agriculture, nearly 9 million acre-feet—underground in pursuit of the region's tarry oil," according to Jeremy Miller's 2011 investigative piece, "The Colonization of Kern County," in Orion Magazine. "Essentially, enough water has been injected into the oil fields here over the last forty years to create a lake one foot deep covering more than thirteen thousand square miles—nearly twice the surface area of Lake Ontario." (http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6047) 

Background: the increasing power of big oil in California 

The drive by the oil and natural gas industry to frack California is highlighted by recent disturbing developments that reveal the enormous power of Big Oil in the state. 

In yet one more example of the revolving door between government and huge corporations that defines politics in California now, State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) on February 22 suddenly announced his resignation from office in order to take a “government affairs” position at Chevron. 

Rubio went to work for Chevron just two months after alleged “marine protected areas,” overseen by the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, a coastal real estate developer, a marina corporation executive and other corporate interests, went into effect on California’s North Coast. 

These “marine protected areas,” created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering. 

In a big scandal largely ignored by the mainstream media, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, not only chaired the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” on the South Coast, but also served on the task forces to create “marine reserves” on the North Coast, North Central Coast and South Coast. 

“It’s clear that government and petroleum officials want to ‘frack’ in the very same areas Reheis-Boyd was appointed to oversee as a ‘guardian’ of marine habitat protection for the MLPA ‘Initiative,’” said David Gurney, independent journalist and co-chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition, in his report on the opening of new lease-sales for fracking. (http://noyonews.net/?p=8215) 

“What’s becoming obvious is that Reheis-Boyd’s expedient presence on the ‘Blue Ribbon Task Force’ for the MLPAI was a ploy for the oil industry to make sure no restrictions applied against drilling or fracking in or around so-called marine protected areas,” Gurney emphasized. 

The current push by the oil industry to expand fracking in California, build the Keystone XL Pipeline and eviscerate environmental laws was facilitated by state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates, who greenwashed the key role Reheis-Boyd and the oil industry played in creating marine protected areas that don’t protect the ocean. 

Reheis-Boyd apparently used her role as a state marine “protection” official to increase her network of influence in California politics to the point where the Western States Petroleum Association has become the most powerful corporate lobby in California. (http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/lawsuit-filed-against-fracking-oil-lobbyist-says-its-safe) 

Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California (http://www.stopfoolingca.org), an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent more than $16 million lobbying in Sacramento since 2009. 

As the oil industry expands its role in California politics and environmental processes, you can bet that they are going to use every avenue they can to get more water for fracking, including taking Delta water through the twin tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. 

For more information about fracking, go to: 

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