[env-trinity] Trinity River Bucket Brigade Aug. 24!/Westlands lawsuit update/The 'Petro Princess'/the "Changed" Tunnels of Death

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Sat Aug 17 11:10:08 PDT 2013

Good Morning

Here are four items for your weekend reading pleasure:  The flyer for  
the Trinity River Bucket Brigade event at Lewiston Dam at noon on  
Saturday, August 24 (what a great idea!), my latest piece on the  
Westlands lawsuit against increased Trinity flows on fishsniffer.com,  
my commentary on the Mercury News website and on calitics about the  
long, strange saga of  California's "Petro Princess," and finally,  
the "changed" plan to build the "Tunnels of Death" published on  
yuba.net (and the Sacramento Bee website).

Have a great weekend!




Photo of Klamath fish kill, September 2002, courtesy of the Yurok Tribe.


Order against Trinity River high flows extended through August 21

by Dan Bacher

A federal judge in Fresno extended a controversial temporary  
restraining order to block a federal plan to increase water releases  
down the Trinity River, intended to avert a fish kill on the Klamath,  
through at least August 21.

Lawrence J. O’Neill, United States District Judge, put the burden of  
proof on the federal government in showing how the releases are  
needed - and set a hearing by the parties on August 21.

The Westlands Water District and San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water  
Authority filed the lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation  
alleging that the increased releases would cut water to west side San  
Joaquin Valley growers, resulting in "significant and irreparable harm."

The Bureau and two intervenors - the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the  
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) - say  
the flows are necessary to prevent a fish kill like the one of  
September 2002, when over 78,000 salmon perished in the lower Klamath  
due to a disease outbreak spurred by low, warm water conditions. The  
fish kill resulted in severely limited Tribal and commercial fishing  

"Both sides of this dispute represent significant public interests,"  
wrote O'Neill. "Federal Defendants and Defendant Intervenors  
correctly point out that the federal government has invested large  
sums of money into the restoration of the fisheries in question. Yet,  
it is equally true that the government has and continues to invest in  
the long-term viability of agriculture in the Central Valley. Neither  
side holds veto power over the other.

"The Court finds that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of  
success on the merits and the probability of irreparable harm that is  
not clearly outweighed by the equities on the other side.  
Accordingly, the TRO currently in force is extended..." concluded  

On the day water releases began, the Hoopa Valley Tribe decried the  
court-ordered shut off of water - and followed up with a press  
release slamming the Westlands lawsuit on Wednesday. The Trinity  
River, the Klamath's largest tributary, flows through the Hoopa  
Valley Reservation in Humboldt County.

Scientists, federal officials and tribal leaders all say the water is  
needed now. But after issuing an order blocking the flow release  
until August 16, Judge O’Neill extended the order until at least  
August 21, according to the statement from the Tribe.

Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairwoman Danielle Vigil-Masten said, "I have  
received a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by Judge Lawrence  
J. O' Neill that has an adverse effect on the scheduled release of  
Trinity River water to advert a Klamath fish kill. This TRO  
contradicts almost 60 years of laws pertaining to the diversion of  
the Trinity River, which put the Hoopa Valley Tribal water rights and  
the Trinity fishery over the needs of Central Valley irrigators."

The Tribe said they hope once the judge has the opportunity to review  
the scientific documents and history of the Trinity River diversions,  
he will lift the restraining order. They warn another catastrophic  
fish die off "will have political ramifications that could  
potentially hurt both the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and Klamath  
River Basin water talks."

At issue is the recent decision from the Department of Interior to  
release 62,000 acre feet of water from Trinity River reservoirs over  
the next six weeks to supplement low flows in the Klamath River to  
avoid a Klamath fish kill. "This action is overwhelming supported by  
the public, Tribes, fishermen, and the scientific community, who  
claim similar actions in prior years were effective in avoiding  
fisheries disasters," according to the Tribe.

The Tribe emphasized that the TRO was issued despite the federal  
government’s briefings that stated, “Granting an injunction would  
result in immediate and irreparable injury to the public’s interest,  
including a significant risk of harm to fall-run salmon in the  
Klamath and Trinity River and, of special concern, the frustration of  
the government’s trust responsibility to the Hoopa Valley and Yurok  
Tribes to restore their fisheries.”

Along with supporting the government’s temporary actions to avert a  
fish kill, the Hoopa Valley Tribe is asking for "long term solutions  
to the crisis in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers that reflect that  
most irrigators receiving water from the Klamath Basin are junior  
water right holders."

They say proposals such as Governor Jerry's Brown's Bay Delta  
Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels and the Klamath  
Basin Restoration Agreements would "actually take more water from the  
Klamath and Trinity Rivers, and elevate junior water right holders  
over Tribes."

Not only would construction of the peripheral tunnels hasten the  
extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin  
smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, but it would imperil  
salmon and steelhead runs on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

“Central Valley water users have made untold billions of dollars at  
the expense of Trinity River salmon and communities. The greed and  
aggression represented by this lawsuit and the hypocrisy of the  
plaintiff’s exploitation of environmental protection laws both stuns  
and saddens us,” said Vigil Masten.

“But make no mistake,” she said. “If the injunction remains,  
then the Central Valley contractors’ attack on us, on who we are, on  
what we stand for, could launch a war for the Trinity that could  
engulf California from the Bay Delta Conservation Planning process to  
Klamath River Basin water settlement negotiations.”


Ocean fracking is no surprise

'Petro Princess’ oversaw creation of marine protected areas

by Dan Bacher

The California Coastal Commission, under intense pressure from  
legislators and environmental activists, pledged yesterday at its  
meeting in Santa Cruz to investigate reports of fracking in ocean  
waters in the Santa Barbara Channel.

"Blindsided by revelations of fracking in waters off the coast of  
California, the state's Coastal Commission on Thursday vowed an  
investigation into the controversial practice, including what powers  
the agency has to regulate it, “ according to the Associated Press.  

"Blindsided" by "relevations" of fracking? How can that be possible  
when the Coastal Commission and other state regulators failed to  
question the leadership role of a big oil lobbyist, the "Petroleum  
Princess," in the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)  
Initiative to create alleged "marine protected areas?"

State officials and representatives of some corporate "environmental"  
NGOs shamelessly embraced Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the  
Western States Petroleum Association, as a "marine guardian."

Reheis-Boyd, who lobbies relentlessly for increased fracking in  
California, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the  
evisceration of environmental laws, served as the CHAIR of the MLPA  
Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine  
protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the MLPA  
task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

She oversaw the creation of questionable "marine protected areas"  
that fail to protect the ocean from fracking and oil drilling,  
pollution, military testing, wind and wave energy projects and all  
human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

I'm glad that the Commission is calling for an investigation of  
offshore fracking now. However, where were they when grassroots  
environmentalists, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Tribal  
members and advocates of transparency in government were calling for  
an investigation of conflicts of interest, corruption and the  
violation of state, federal and international laws under the  
privately-funded MLPA Initiative?

"We take our obligation to protect the marine environment very  
seriously and we will be looking at this very carefully," claimed  
Charles Lester, executive director of the Coastal Commission.

If the Commission wants to really show that they take their  
obligation “very seriously,” they must call for an independent and  
thorough investigation of the conflicts of interest, corruption and  
violation of laws under the MLPA Initiative, starting with Reheis- 
Boyd’s role in creating so-called “marine reserves” that fail to  
protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution and all  
other human impacts on our coastal waters than sustainable fishing  
and gathering!

For more information about the MLPA Initiative, go to: http:// 


Photo of Natural Resources Secretary John Laird courtesy of the  
California Department of Natural Resources.

The 'changed' Delta tunnel plan: like the Owens Valley again

by Dan Bacher

The California Department of Water Resources Thursday announced  
“changes” to the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to  
build the peripheral tunnels – but Delta advocates weren’t fooled  
by the so-called improvements, saying, "It is like the Owens Valley  

Proposed changes announced include shrinking of the intermediate  
forebay surface area from 750 acres to 40 acres - and realigning a  
segment of the proposed tunnels to the east to utilize more public  
lands and avoid the Delta communities of Courtland and Walnut Grove.

The changes outlined by California Natural Resources Secretary John  
Laird in a news conference also include:

• shortening the main tunnels from 35 miles to 30 miles;

• using DWR-owned properties south of Hood as a construction staging  
area and DWR-owned properties near Interstate 5 as a re-usable tunnel  
material storage area;

• decreasing from 151 to 81 the number of structures affected by the  

• working with landowners and stakeholders to use excavated material  
to improve and preserve wildlife habitat on Zacharias Ranch on  
Glanville Tract and on Staten Island; and

• modifying and strengthening the existing Clifton Court Forebay for  
improved operations of north and south Delta conveyance.

The map of the proposed changes is available at: http:// 

Laird also claimed that the proposed project analyzed in the  
documents has changed significantly in the last two years in response  
to concerns from state and federal wildlife agencies. He said the  
capacity of the proposed north Delta intakes has been downsized from  
a maximum of 15,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 9,000 cfs and the  
number of intakes along the Sacramento River has dropped from five to  
three. Laird also noted that the proposal has been modified to flow  
by gravity from the intermediate forebay to main forebay, rather than  
by pumping, to reduce the "carbon footprint."

Laird claimed the BDCP was a “transparent” process, just like he  
alleged the corrupt, privately funded Marine Life Protection Act  
(MLPA) Initiative to create questionable “marine protected areas”  
on the California coast was. (http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five- 

“We are committed to transparency. We are releasing the documents in  
stages, with more transparency than has traditionally been done in  
these processes,” Laird said.

Laird, who presided over record water exports and a record "salvage"  
of nearly 9 million Sacramento splittail in 2011, claimed that the  
BDCP would meet the co-equal goals of “ecosystem restoration” and  
water supply, in spite of arguments by critics who said the project  
would fail to accomplish either goal.

“The administration supports whatever it takes to be successful at  
this," said Laird, summarizing Governor Jerry Brown’s commitment to  
building the tunnels, in spite of the enormous economic cost to  
Californians and the catastrophic impacts it would have upon the  
Delta ecosystem and central Valley salmon populations.

“We take seriously the effects our proposal would have on the  
property and daily lives of Delta residents,” claimed DWR Director  
Mark Cowin in a news release. “We have worked hard to find ways to  
eliminate or modify some of the construction activity and permanent  
infrastructure in ways that minimize disruption to local residents.  
We’ll keep working to reduce impacts wherever possible, and we’re  
committed to mitigating those that are unavoidable.”

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of the peripheral tunnels,  
described the changes outlined today as “a failed attempt by Jerry  
Meral to show that he and the other architects of the BDCP are  
sensitive to Delta communities." Meral, the Deputy Resources  
Secretary, is the point man for Governor Jerry Brown and Laird on the  

“It does not change the fact that 48 significant and unavoidable  
impacts that are identified in the BDCP will be inflicted on Delta  
communities, fisheries, farms, and boaters,” said Barbara Barrigan- 
Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “This new  
proposal does not even consider the significant harm that would come  
to Sandhill Cranes that nest on Staten Island.”

“These magnificent birds will do even worse than Delta residents  
with around the clock construction noise, traffic, and tunnel muck,  
disrupting their nursing areas," she emphasized. “Jerry Meral  
refuses to acknowledge these 48 significant and unavoidable impacts  
publicly; he directed Dr. David Sunding to ignore these impacts in  
the incomplete economic analysis released last week; and this latest  
attempt to sell the plan as improved points to new disasters in the  

“Meral thinks we are supposed to be satisfied that he has lessened  
some of the impacts on a few of our neighbors while continuing to  
sacrifice the entire region. It is like the Owens Valley all over  
again,” Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.

The construction of the $54.1 billion peripheral tunnels will hasten  
the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley  
steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish  
species, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the  
Klamath and Trinity rivers. The water destined for the peripheral  
tunnels will be used by corporate agribusiness to irrigate drainage  
impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley - and by oil  
companies to expand the environmentally destructive practice of  
hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in California (www.counterpunch.org/ 

For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org.

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