[env-trinity] Coalition Protests Delta Tunnels Tax as MWD Revotes on $11 Billion to Finance WaterFix

Daniel Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Mon Jul 9 23:33:12 PDT 2018

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/7/9/1779238/-Coalition-Protests-Delta-Tunnels-Tax-as-MWD-Revotes-on-11-Billion-to-Finance-WaterFix <https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/7/9/1779238/-Coalition-Protests-Delta-Tunnels-Tax-as-MWD-Revotes-on-11-Billion-to-Finance-WaterFix>


Food and Water Watch Photo

Coalition Protests Delta Tunnels Tax as MWD Revotes on $11 Billion to Finance WaterFix

By Dan Bacher

Before the  Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California is forced to retake its vote on financing $11 billion of Governor Jerry Brown’s $17 billion Delta Tunnels project on Tuesday, July 10,  ratepayers, taxpayer advocates, faith leaders, union representatives and environmentalists will hold a press conference to protest the environmentally destructive project.
The press conference will take place at 11:00 a.m. prior to the MWD Board Workshop on the tunnels in the courtyard of the Metropolitan Water District Headquarters, 700 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. The workshop will begin at 12 noon.  

“Advocates will expose legal violations in the original vote that require board members to retake the decision, and outline next steps by the coalition to oppose the tunnel tax,” said Brenna Norton of Food and Water Watch. “The vote comes days after the State Water Board announced a reduction the amount of water that can be pumped south, making local and regional water supplies more cost-effective compared to the tunnels.”

The project, also called the California WaterFix, features two massive 35 mile long tunnels under the Delta that will divert Sacramento River from the North Delta to the state and federal water project pumps in the South Delta to be exported to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and other extreme oil extraction operations. 

Project opponents say the tunnels will raise water rates while not creating one drop of new water — and hastening the extinction of winter run and spring run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperiling the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. Jerry Brown’s “legacy project” threatens the very existence of the San Francisco Bay Delta and West Coast fisheries.

Norton said the revote comes amidrevelations that MWD & MWDOC officials workeddirectly with Representative Ken Calvert’s office <http://email.prnewswire.com/wf/click?upn=iOkKT9Tm-2F0Jp8DzOezi5814cxloeAFsov0AlItGVxBUFH3RKONrNb2oYHJWiOpWjVlqBLMbDrCqVlekivgxYEYcjVV5o4R4AV2STMQROWi8wD6rpHBmGOQKFrZaEJkD2LUi5CS-2Fj1S3H3HY-2B0aoixtqvy7OOr7uugnHWbEtNwCDEPvfhKMrEj5RBpFQxzZNGu-2F0NASNz8oFmPVQVwxrWSpRyqASujEbomHe20ZbNvgrbH6M3J65eu1WGaDOmTvmi_AdkfTiApI80cNEyortTzHYU7XcR9jLT9f86yY5Bw0YbD2D1SmC4I6bIHxAgNfO8PyAS0UmJPV0n-2BZpz34XwbRLHO0WIHGB5MliigCwo57pOBL-2FSNI1TD4mypAZHwPFSFDqVvBZHnHrkKTVNoKwqJMmp3pYCYlcWL1U8IvhdUz8Jwi6bkm-2BLySTKhQGBqjXIuVO-2BKHHBexOHdqC52xIUl4SvUWYPpKnhJ8uwgNfFvNX6g9IZxsQ8iJzNMuhgsT0yUYQi7OzeajoGgxOlfiLW0hdP4RF85LCOieWcX0Z5uHLhT-2F54hiweiVkX1Df9amgTj>to eliminate judicial review of the tunnels project, while keeping certain staff, some MWD Board Members and state water contractors in the dark. 

Delta Tunnels opponents showing their opposition to the project at the press conference and hearing will include Los Angeles ratepayers, Food & Water Watch, Social-Economic-Justice Network (SEE), Consumer Watchdog, Los Angeles Minsters Forum, SEIU Local 721, Restore the Delta, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Sierra Club and Los Angeles neighborhood council presidents. Public trust and ratepayer advocates will hold signs at the hearing and press conference

Online access to the hearing is available here: http://www.mwdh2o.com/WhoWeAre/Board/Board-Meeting/Pages/default.aspx <http://email.prnewswire.com/wf/click?upn=iOkKT9Tm-2F0Jp8DzOezi5814cxloeAFsov0AlItGVxBUFH3RKONrNb2oYHJWiOpWjVlqBLMbDrCqVlekivgxYEYcjVV5o4R4AV2STMQROWi8wD6rpHBmGOQKFrZaEJkD2LUi5CS-2Fj1S3H3HY-2B0aoixtqvy7OOr7uugnHWbEtNwCDEPvfhKMrEj5RBpFQxzZNGu-2F0NASNz8oFmPVQVwxrWSuu4MNWxVg3nLXbjYtoVjf5NPGz33sfYqpZYb2r5W-2FY-2B_AdkfTiApI80cNEyortTzHYU7XcR9jLT9f86yY5Bw0YbD2D1SmC4I6bIHxAgNfO8PyAS0UmJPV0n-2BZpz34XwbRLHO0WIHGB5MliigCwo57pOBL-2FSNI1TD4mypAZHwPFSFDqVvBZHnHrkKTVNoKwqJMmp3pYCYlcWL1U8IvhdUz8LtRu06XRP-2B1-2FQ9kdZoOepjnUPXuIHKsfumoYRlZKaQ-2BYbg0J4NGwOI2AiyDv8Xs5GkScdwWqj3tM-2BbFqz0EunIN0F6aYpEHUfSjKTy-2BtOmKUJSgYL3-2FXd3Ej845crI1mLStBGQLaLKkSbC8Ccl7Js3>
“Public records show that tunnel supporters on the MWD board, with help from Governor Brown, engaged in back room wheeling and dealing to pressure MWD board members to finance tunnels project,” said Norton. “This violates the Brown Act, which requires public officials to make such decisions transparently, with input from the public. Following a legal letter from Food & Water Watch and the First Amendment Coalition, MWD agreed to retake the vote.”

“The two largest cities in the state, Los Angeles and San Diego, and the cities of Santa Monica San Fernando opposed the tunnels in April, citing legal, ratepayer, and environmental concerns,” stated Norton. 

The meeting will take place following the latest revelations of Restore the Delta’s California Public Records Act (CPRA) request documents from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

“These documents reveal that the Kern County Water Agency (KCWA) and MWD consulted Ken Calvert’s Legislative Aide, Ian Foley, on the language of the Valadao Rider—a supplemental provision to the House Appropriations spending bill that would exempt the Central Valley Project and State Water Project from judicial review,” according to Restore the Delta (RTD). “The Valadao rider was added to the Appropriations bill after the Calvert rider was approved by the Interior subcommittee, according to Restore the Delta (RTD).”

These latest findings supplement Restore the Delta’s findings from the same CPRA request released last week. 

On May 21, 2018, Ian Foley, emailed MWD Assistant General Manager Roger Patterson and KCWA Assistant General Manager Brent Walthall to “quietly share” some language from the House Appropriations spending bill and asked both Assistant General Managers for their thoughts. The shared language reads: 

“None of the funds made available by this Act or any other Act of Congress shall be used by the Department of the Interior to modify or otherwise adjust the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative described in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s December 15, 2008, biological opinion on the coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project or the Department of Commerce to modify or otherwise adjust the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative described in the National Marine Fisheries Service’s June 4, 2009, Biological Opinion and Conference Opinion on the Long-Term Operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project in any manner that would further contain or limit the ability of the Central Valley Project or California State Water Project to provide, at the earliest possible date, the maximum quantity of water supplies to Central Valley Project agricultural, municipal, and industrial contractors, water service or repayment contractors, water rights settlement contracts, exchange contractors, refuge contractors, and State Water Project Contractors.” (MWD-RTD_000171.pdf <https://kovaleskipr.us15.list-manage.com/track/click?u=8058bd55382b536046017e11c&id=220b6f1598&e=0ca742b4d5>).

Mr. Waltall (KCWA) responded that he thinks Kern County would support the language but anticipated that the Valadao rider would create more backlash from tunnels opponents (MWDPRA-RTD_000167.pdf <https://kovaleskipr.us15.list-manage.com/track/click?u=8058bd55382b536046017e11c&id=c21ce97562&e=0ca742b4d5>).

“The collective effort made by Representative Valadao, Congressman Calvert and his staff, Metropolitan, and Kern County Water Agency to strip due process rights from all residents, municipalities, and water districts who live in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds and in the Delta is Un-American and Anti-Californian,” summed up Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

It is worth noting that Jerry Brown, who fancies himself as a “green governor” as he promotes the Delta Tunnels and oversees a massive expansion of offshore and onshore oil drilling in California, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra have remained silent about Calvert’s rider, although both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have both gone on record opposing the rider.
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