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Groups urge Governor to stop irrigating crops with oil field wastewater

by: Dan Bacher

Thu May 28, 2015 at 14:14:54 PM PDT

Oil industry representatives, in response to criticism over their use of water for fracking and steam injection oil drilling operations during the drought, have claimed that oil field wastewater can be used beneficially by farmers to irrigate crop in California.

In a recent blog post, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, touted the use of oil field wastewater for irrigating crops in Kern County in the southern San Joaquin Valley. (https://www.wspa.org/blog/post/california-energy-producers-and-drought-managing-water-scarcity)

"Bringing crude oil to the surface from deep underground so it can be refined into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is a process that also produces water - lots of water," gushed Reheis-Boyd.

"For every barrel of oil produced in California, many more barrels of water are also brought to the surface," she said. "According to the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, the average barrel of oil in California results in the production of 15 barrels of water."

She acknowledged that much of this water is "unsuitable for use above ground" but claimed, "Fortunately, there are still uses for this water."

"Most of it is injected into oil fields as steam or water to help produce more energy for Californians.  Some of it is treated and provided to farmers who use it to irrigate their crops," she said.

Reheis-Boyd claimed Kern County producers currently provide more than 31,000 acre feet of water annually to irrigate 45,000 acres of productive farmland. "That's more than 10 billion gallons of water for farmers who are facing severe cuts in the water they receive from other sources, such as state and federal water projects," she said.  

However, earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times revealed that testing by Water Defense had found toxic industrial chemicals present in the recycled oil field wastewater used to irrigate crops in California's Central Valley, effectively challenging the oil industry claims that oil industry wastewater could be safely used for irrigating food crops. (http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83440384/)

The Times quoted Blake Sanden, an agriculture extension agent and irrigation water expert with UC Davis, who said "everyone smells the petrochemicals in the irrigation water" in the Cawelo district. "When I talk to growers, and they smell the oil field crap in that water, they assume the soil is taking care of this.

"Microorganisms in soils can consume and process some impurities, Sanden said, but it's not clear whether oil field waste is making its way into the roots or leaves of irrigated plants, and then into the food chain," the Times reported.

Two national advocacy organizations, Food & Water Watch and Water Defense, are now calling on California Governor Jerry Brown to protect Americans who consume California produce by ending the practice of using toxic oil field wastewater for irrigation.  

Scott Smith, Chief Scientist of Water Defense, collected the samples from treated wastewater sold by the oil and gas industry to the Cawelo Water District in Kern County, according to a joint statement from the two groups.

An alarming video released on May 26 shows Smith, who has tested water across the country, encountering tar balls and oil slicks, conditions he compared to those he witnessed during the Gulf oil spill in 2010. (http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/exclusive-water-defense-video-shows-tar-balls-oil-slicks-near-kern-county-irrigation-site/)

"I always viewed California as a leader in protecting the environment," said Smith. "I was absolutely shocked when I found myself surrounded by food crops with the smell of oil coming off the irrigation water. It was worse than what I smelled during the BP Gulf oil spill."

But the trouble doesn't end with the smell.  "When the test results came back we found dangerous and toxic chemicals in the irrigation canal system," said Smith. "The levels of these toxic chemicals exceeded what I have tested in official oil spill disasters."

Water Defense reported that its tests found industrial solvents, including acetone and methylene chloride, as well as oil.

"California grows the lion's share of the fruits and vegetables we eat in the United States," said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director. "It is inexcusable that the oil and gas industry is allowed to use American families' dinner plates as a disposal site for toxic oil field wastewater. Governor Jerry Brown must take immediate action to protect our food by ending the use of this industrial waste for irrigation."

To learn more about Water Defense's testing methods, read the interview with Scott Smith and view the video at their blog: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.o...

For more information, go to: foodandwaterwatch.org and waterdefense.org.

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Winnemem Wintu representative responds to Brown's "Shut Up" comment

by: Dan Bacher

Wed May 13, 2015 at 18:32:11 PM PDT

Environmental groups and Tribes rally for rivers at Capitol

On May 11, Gary Mulcahy of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe responded to Jerry Brown's comment during a speech in Sacramento that opponents of the twin tunnels should "Shut Up" unless they had spent a "million hours" on the project like the administration's staff had. (https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/05/06/18771989.php)

"The Winnemem Wintu and California Indians have been on these rivers for over 6,000 years, praying for the water and praying for the salmon streams and fisheries all this time," said Mulcahy at a noon program at California Rivers Day at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Monday.  "We know our rivers and salmon and what they need. So Tunnel Vision Brown, until you have been on the rivers for over 6,000 years, Shut Up."

The Tribe has been fighting for years to stop a federal plan to raise Shasta Dam, a project that would inundate many of the Winnemen Wintu's remaining sacred sites, and to restore the original run of winter run Chinook salmon, now thriving in New Zealand, to the McCloud River above Lake Shasta.

California Rivers Day 2015 brought together 23 river groups from throughout the state and two Indian Tribes to speak up for rivers and call on state leaders to support "sustainable drought solutions" at noon at the West Steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

The noon program that Mulcahy spoke at was preceded by a "Paddle to the Capitol" that arrived at the Tower Bridge public boat dock at 10:30 am.

"The drought is taking a major toll on our rivers-California's lifeblood," according to Eric Wesselman, Executive Director of Friends of the River. "In addition to the noon program event at the Capitol, this day included a morning paddle down the Sacramento River to the Capitol, informational booths on the West Steps of the building, and meetings with legislators to promote sustainable drought solutions that protect our rivers."  

Katherine Evatt of the Foothill Conservancy, who also spoke at the noon rally, said, "California rivers matter. It is important that California rivers have a voice in the Legislature. We gathered here today to give California rivers a voice and to tell the Legislature that California rivers matter - and to make sure that they do not lose sight of that in the drought."  

The groups and Tribes released a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, Senator Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Speaker Toni Atkins urging them to take a number of actions:

• Oppose any potential legislative efforts to weaken environmental protections for rivers  such as removing Wild & Scenic River protections for the McCloud River, reducing  minimum flow standards, or shortcutting the environmental review process for surface storage projects by undercutting the California Environmental Quality Act.

• Oppose AB 1242 (Gray) as it would undermine the Water Board's authority to require adequate instream flows to protect water quality, fish and wildlife, and aquatic habitat.

• Support SB 226 (Pavley), and expedite implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, especially for critical overdraft basins, to ensure that the limits on surface water sources do not lead to over-pumping of groundwater and the collapse of our aquifers-California's largest, cheapest, and most environmentally sound reservoirs.

• Support SB 637 (Allen) to provide for the regulation of motorized suction dredge gold mining.

•Support AB 142 (Bigelow) to require the Resources Secretary to study and make a recommendation to the Legislature as to whether 37 miles of the Mokelumne River should be protected in the California Wild & Scenic Rivers System.

• Support SB 555 (Wolk) to take a needed step toward reducing system losses by requiring annual water loss audits and reporting.

• Support AB1, now in the Senate, (Brown) to prohibit a city or county from imposing a fine for a brown lawn or failure to water a lawn during a period for which the Governor has issued a state of emergency due to drought conditions.    

The letter also noted that "building massive surface storage projects" will not address the water crisis:

"The Public Policy Institute of California recently reported that the five major surface water storage projects currently under study (including the three most controversial projects - the Shasta Dam raise, Temperance Flat Dam, and Sites Reservoir) will cost roughly $9 billion but increase annual average supplies by just 1 percent. What these projects will do is put the state deeper in debt, delay our pursuit of real solutions, and destroy rivers along with Native American culture, family ranches, and thousands of acres of habitat for wildlife."

Organizations that participated in the event included the following:
Friends of the River
Foothill Conservancy
California Hydropower Reform Coalition
South Yuba River Citizens League
Sacramento River Preservation Trust
All Outdoors
California Sport Fishing Protection Alliance
Restore the Delta
Tuleyome
Adventure Connection
American Whitewater
American Rivers
New Voices Are Rising
Winnemem Wintu Tribe
American River Conservancy
Delta Kayaking Adventures
Tuolumne River Trust
Mother Lode Adventures
Paddle with Purpose
Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians
Protect American River Canyons
Effie Yeah Nature Center
American River Natural History Association
San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust
Save the American River Association

To learn more about California Rivers Day, go to: http://www.friendsoftheriver.o...

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What Color is the Sky in Joel Fox's Fantasy World?

by: California Labor Federation

Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 13:03:52 PM PDT

by Steve Smith

There's been a lot of attention lately on California's turnaround. As it turns out, that nonsense about all our jobs moving to Texas was a just Texas-sized whopper. Last year California created about 500,000 jobs to lead the nation in job growth, outpacing the conservative darling Texas.

Basically, the corporate narrative about California has gone up in smoke. In the last several years, California has done a litany of things that the corporate crowd claims kill jobs. We raised the minimum wage. We raised taxes on the rich with Prop 30 to better fund schools and public safety. We guaranteed paid sick days for all workers. We eliminated the wasteful enterprise zone tax credits for big businesses that cost the state nearly $1 billion per year. We got rid of another tax giveaway to business with Prop 39 and instead funneled those funds into clean energy projects that create good jobs. We strengthened regulations that protect workers and the environment. The list goes on and on.

So imagine my surprise when I read Joel Fox's blog on Fox & Hounds claiming that the Chamber of Commerce was actually responsible for the job growth in California. Oh, ok. Sure. That makes total sense, Joel. The Chamber constantly derides California as the most anti-business state in the country and now wants to claim credit for our success? That makes about as much sense as that idiotic scheme you participated in during the 2012 election to help the Koch Brothers and their rich, out-of-state friends funnel millions into California to help pass the anti-worker Prop 32 and defeat Prop 30. But, I digress.

Hidden at the bottom of Fox's inane blog is the one line we should all pay attention to in the context of this argument.

The Chamber's goal is to keep business costs low to improve the economy statewide.

By lowering "business costs" he means eliminating protections for workers and the environment, shrinking wages for workers, while cutting taxes on CEOs and the wealthiest among us. California has roundly rejected this shortsighted notion, unlike, say, Kansas, which is seeing the disastrous effects of implementing the big business plan.

California, under Gov. Jerry Brown, has shown the real path forward.  You can create jobs AND protect workers and the environment. You can put more money in the pockets of those at the bottom while creating shared prosperity that benefits the economy as a whole. You can make the rich pay their fair share to fund our schools, public safety and other important services without hurting job growth. You can protect immigrant workers against exploitation and strengthen the ability for all workers to stand together in unions without hurting competitiveness. In fact, when you do those things, jobs DO grow. Wages DO grow. The economy gets stronger. And most importantly, lives change for the better.

Still, too many workers are struggling today. Now isn't the time to go backward on workers' rights. Instead, it's time to step on the pedal so we raise standards for all workers to combat growing inequality. The last few years we've put to rest the narrative that says doing good things for workers and the environment kills jobs.

So let's not waste time and let's continue doing more of what we know works. More investment in California's working people makes California a better place to live and raise a family. More support for workers and their families lowers poverty while creating an economy that works for everyone. And we do this not with the help of the Chamber of Commerce and its corporate CEO funders, we do it in spite of them.  

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

A NEW KIND OF FRACKING

by: Ellis Goldberg

Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 11:28:13 AM PDT

Fracking brings to mind drilling a hole and then pumping awful stuff down the hole causing gas and oil to be released through fractures in the rock.  A new kind of fracking is being planned: The fracking of the California Democratic Party.  The hole is being drilled in Senate District 7 where Steve Glazer could take a seat with the Democrats in the State Senate.  Glazer is expert at using awful stuff - divisiveness; which he used to turn Democrats against Democrats and labor unions, that's how he delivered an assembly seat to a Republican in a district with a Democratic majority.  He is using the same divisive strategy in the current campaign and promises to use it if elected.  He would have a seat at the Democratic Caucus where legislators hammer out differences and reach agreements through open discussions.  Glazer would prevent those discussions because he cannot be trusted.

Following the money behind Glazer's campaign to see why he cannot be trusted.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 413 words in story)

The Extinction Governor Rips the Green Mask off His Tunnels Plan!

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Apr 14, 2015 at 03:37:25 AM PDT

Brown's ditching of plan's "conservation" components is part of larger pattern  

Governor Jerry Brown has finally admitted what most Californians have known all along - the "conservation" and "habitat restoration" components of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan have been nothing but window dressing for the twin tunnels water grab, potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.

On April 13, Restore the Delta (RTD), a coalition of anti-tunnels organizations and individuals, and the Center for Biological Diversity responded to the governor's abandonment of the pretense of "conservation" and "restoration" and move to permit a "tunnels only" Bay Delta Conservation Plan, as reported in the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and other media outlets. (http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_27895910/delta-tunnels-major-changes-environmental-restoration-could-endanger)

According to Paul Rogers in the Mercury News:

"Gov. Jerry Brown has billed his $25 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the Delta as a way to not just make it easier to move water from north to south, but also increase the reliability of water supplies and bring back salmon and other endangered species.

But now the Brown administration is proposing a major and politically risky change: dropping a 50-year guarantee to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta's environment. A centerpiece of the project, the environmental plan included $8 billion to preserve 100,000 acres of wetlands and dozens of other restoration efforts."

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, noted that for eight years, Californians had been told that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan was going to serve what became law in 2009 - the so-called  "co-equal goals of restoring the Delta and providing water supply reliability."

"Our position has been that these co-equal goals are irreconcilable because the Delta watershed has been over subscribed five times," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "The BDCP planning process culminated in a 40,000-page plan and corresponding EIR/EIS, which cannot be permitted by Federal fish agencies because it failed to meet science-based standards for recovery of fisheries."

She emphasized, "Proponents of the BDCP are lamenting that, after 8 years and $240,000,000, they do not have a viable project. Even proponents now admit the BDCP was supposed to do something better, but it does not meet the 'better' standard."

The Center for Biological Diversity also responded to the Brown administration's revelation that the twin tunnels project to divert water from the San Francisco Bay-Delta to Southern California and industrial agribusinesses "no longer includes provisions to protect habitat for endangered salmon and smelt and more than 50 other imperiled species."

"The new plan is a giant step backward," said Chelsea Tu, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.  If it goes through, this massive project's boosters will be able to build these tunnels without having to do anything to protect our wildlife and waters - and will neatly sidestep input from the public."

"This backdoor process will waste more taxpayer money and kill more Delta species like endangered salmon and smelt," she stated.

She noted that since 2007 state and federal water contractors and public agencies have spent more than $240 million just in planning the so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which would "green-light" the water export tunnels in exchange for promised measures intended to "benefit" the Delta environment.

"The new plan would be subject to review only under Section 7 of the federal Endangered Species Act, which could only require federal wildlife agencies to determine whether it will harm 21 wildlife species that are listed or proposed to be listed under the Act," she added.

Under the previous approach, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan planned to protect 57 imperiled species. A Section 7 consultation would only take place among federal agencies and would likely not contain mandatory mitigation requirements or a public participation process, according to Tu.

There is no doubt that construction of the giant tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and numerous other fish species, as well as imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.  

BDCP 'science' is terminally flawed

Every scientific panel, ranging from the Independent Delta Science Board to the National Academy of Sciences, has criticized the flawed "science" behind the twin tunnel plan. Last August the state and federal governments decided to delay the proposed project following the scathing 43-page comment letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) said the controversial plan to construct two 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to divert Sacramento River water to "agricultural plantations" in the deserts of southern California "was placed on life support" when the California Department of Water Resources announced that a revised EIR/EIS would be delayed until sometime in 2015.

"BDCP's friends and family anxiously expressed hope that an infusion of additional millions of dollars and months of treatment would enable the project to recover," quipped Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director. "However, the EPA comments coming on top of some 4,500 pages of searing reviews by municipalities, counties and water agencies that would be adversely impacted by the project, almost 2,000 pages of highly critical comments by environmental and fishing organizations, hundreds of pages of harsh analyses by government agencies and stinging comments from many thousands of California citizens reveal that BDCP is suffering from a congenital terminal illness. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/29/18760890.php)  

The recent abandonment of the pretense of "restoration" and "conservation" under the BCCP is part of a larger pattern by the Brown administration, a regime that has pushed some of the most anti-fish and anti-environmental policies of any adminstration in California history. This is a huge story that the mainstream media and most of the alternative media have failed to cover.

Since I am the only reporter, that I am aware of, who has investigated the environmental record of Jerry Brown as a whole, I encourage other journalists also to investigate his real environmental record, ranging from carbon trading greenwashing, to the oil industry lobbyist-overseen MLPA Initiative, to supporting the expansion of fracking in California, to driving Delta smelt and salmon to the edge of extinction. Brown appears to be doing everything he can to earn the nickname, "The Extinction Governor."

Much of the following information has been published in previous articles that I have written, but is crucial to review this data in light of the Brown's administration's latest environmental scandal - the abandonment of all pretense of "conservation" and "habitat restoration" under the twin tunnels plan.

Big Oil Brown greenwashed his legacy at U.N. Climate Summit

Many reporters and editors in the mainstream media still maintain the illusion that Jerry Brown is a "green governor" and "climate leader," in spite of a mounting pile of evidence to the contrary.

In September 2014, Jerry Brown spoke to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, touting California's controversial carbon trading policies as an example of "innovative climate strategies."

"The California story is a very hopeful one," Brown gushed. "It's a story of Republican and Democratic governors pioneering innovative climate strategies. It's not been easy, it's not without contest, but we're making real progress."  

Brown's remarks at the summit are available at: http://cert1.mail-west.com/oUy...

In a video message ahead of the Summit, Brown claimed, "We are carrying on because we know in California that carbon pollution kills, it undermines our environment, and, long-term, it's an economic loser. We face an existential challenge with the changes in our climate. The time to act is now. The place to look is California."

Yes, Jerry, California, now under attack by the anti-environmental policies and carbon trading greenwashing campaign by Governor Brown, is definitely "the place to look" for one example after another of environmental destruction.

"Governor Moonbeam" to Big Oil's favorite governor

Once known as "Governor Moonbeam" for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, Brown has in his third administration transformed himself into "Big Oil Brown."

According to Jessie McKinley in the New York Times, The "Governor Moonbeam" nickname "was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting 'the moonbeam vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional." (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/weekinreview/07mckinley.html

Thirty-eight years later, Oil Change International, a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on "exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy" has given Brown a new nickname, "Big Oil Brown," for the large contributions he has received from oil companies and his support of fracking. The web page dedicated to "Big Oil Brown" features Jerry attired in a suit and cowboy hat like a Texas oil baron right next to an oil rig (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/)

"California's Governor Jerry Brown has a problem: he wants to be seen as a climate champion who understands the science and takes this crisis seriously. At the same time, he just proposed new fracking rules in California that would amount to a gift to Big Oil. He can't have it both ways," according to the web page.

Leaders of environmental organizations, Indian Tribes and fishing groups became outraged when Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill that clears the path for expanded fracking in California, in September 2013. The last minute amendments to the bill by the oil industry were so odious that they spurred the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund to withdraw their support at the last minute for the already weak legislation.

Among other things, the bill made California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of fracking permits optional and prevents imposing a moratorium on fracking for 15 months.

Big Oil strongly supported the amended version of Senate Bill 4 that Brown signed. Just ask Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, who praised the governor's signing of Senate Bill 4 for creating the "environmental" platform to expand fracking in California. (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/statement-wspa-president-catherine-reheis-boyd-signing-sb-4)  

Brown received over $2 million from Big Oil before signing fracking expansion bill

Brown signed the bill after receiving at least $2,014,570.22 from fossil fuel interests since his race for Attorney General in 2006. (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/frackwater/)  

In the 2014 election cycle, four oil companies contributed a total of $161,000 to the Brown campaign at the time of Oil Change International's report. Occidental Petroleum has given $27,200, the maximum legally allowed.

Edison and Chevron have both contributed $27,200 twice, once for the primary election and another for the general election. Phillips 66 nearly maxed out with a $25,000 contribution. Fossil fuel industry contributions in the 2010 Governor's race were $198,451.22.

Then on October 17. 2004, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) revealed that Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, contributed $250,000 to Jerry Brown's Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign.

Aera Energy is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company's website. (http://www.aeraenergy.com/who-we-are.asp)  

Proposition 30, one of the Governor's signature policy initiatives in 2012, was also heavily funded by Big Oil. The oil and gas companies contributed over $1,118,418 to the campaign, including $500,000 from Occidental Petroleum.

It gets worse. Opponents of Proposition 1, the controversial State Water Bond, on September 20 criticized Governor Jerry Brown and the backers of Prop. 1 for taking over $2.8 million raised to enact a tax increase for public education through Proposition 30 and diverting it to their campaign to pass "the biggest dam-building program in California history!"  

Brown backs controversial carbon trading  

But the Governor's signing of the green light to fracking bill is just one of the many attacks on the environment that Brown has engaged in.

Governor Brown is an avid supporter of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+) that allows Northern Hemisphere polluters to buy forest carbon offset credits from the global South. Brown is trying to link an agreement among Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil; and California, to AB32, which commits to a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020, and an 80% reduction for 2050).

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, exposed the impact of Brown's REDD policies on the environment and Indigenous Peoples when he spoke at a protest against Brown's failed environmental policies in San Francisco on October 17, 2013 when Brown was slated to receive environmental leadership award by the Blue Green Alliance. Brown didn't show up, probably because of those, including Goldtooth and Michael Preston of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, who gathered outside to protest the event. (http://www.ienearth.org/press-statement-tom-goldtooth-behind-the-backs-of-the-people-of-california/:

"Despite being awarded, as I speak, for his supposed environmentalism, Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples

This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred.

This policy is called carbon trading and REDD. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. But REDD really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity. REDD does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source. And REDD may result in the biggest land grab of the last 500 years."  

Brown regime exported record quantities of water in 2011

The Brown administration also authorized the export of record water amounts of water from the Delta in 2011 - 6,520,000 acre-feet, 217,000 acre feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre feet set in 2005 under Schwarzenegger. Most of this water went to corporate agribusiness, including mega-farmers irrigating unsustainable, selenium-laced land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The record water exports spurred massive fish kills at the state and federal Delta pumps. The Brown administration "salvaged" a record of nearly 9 million Sacramento splittail and over 2 million salmon, steelhead, striped bass, largemouth bass, threadfin shad, white catfish and sturgeon in the Delta export pumping facilities in 2011. Since the actual number of fish killed in the pumps is at least 5 to 10 times those reported, the actual number of fish killed is probably 55 million to 110 million.

In 2013 and early 2014, the Governor and the Obama administration oversaw the systematic emptying of Folsom and other northern California reservoirs during a record drought, imperiling struggling salmon and steelhead populations and local water supplies. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/07/1275862/-The-Emptying-of-Northern-California-Reservoirs)

Delta smelt moves closer to the abyss of extinction

And if that wasn't bad enough, the Brown and Obama administration's anti-fish and pro-agribusiness policies have resulted in pushing Delta fish populations closer to extinction

The Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's fall midwater trawl survey released this January. Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of 100 sites sampled each month from September through December. (https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentId=92840)

The surveys were initiated in 1967, the same year the State Water Project began exporting water from the Delta. The surveys show that population indices of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, American shad and Sacramento splittail have declined 97.80%, 99.70%, 99.98%, 97.80%, 91.90%, and 98.50%, respectively, between 1967 and 2014, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Oil lobbyist-overseen marine "protection"

Brown has also forged ahead with one of the worst environmental programs of the Schwarzenegger regime, the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

In one of the most egregious conflicts of interests in modern California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/)

It is no surprise that the alleged "marine protected areas" fast-tracked under the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, offshore oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

In fact, a Freedom of Information Act and Associated Press investigation in 2013 revealed that Southern California marine waters were fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)

Much of the fracking took place while the Western States Petroleum Association president was overseeing the creation of the alleged "marine protected areas." Does anybody think there might have been a conflict of interest here? (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/04/09/18770950.php)

Brown's relentless march to environmental destruction

Other controversial environmental policies of the "Green Energy Governor" include the following:

• Department of Conservation Shake-Up: Brown fired Acting Director Derk Chernow and Oil and Gas Supervisor Elena Miller and appointed oil industry-friendly Mark Nechodom in 2011, amidst claims by the oil industry and their political allies that the two officials weren't granting permits quickly and easily enough. As a result, risky injection oil drilling permits increased by 18 percent. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/30/18703640.php)

• Clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada: Brown is doing nothing to stop Sierra Pacific Industries from clear cutting forests, destroying wildlife habitat, and contributing to climate change.

• California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): Brown has tried to weaken or even eliminate CEQA, one of California's greatest environmental laws, to fast-track big developments for giant corporations like Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric, Valero and Chevron.  

As I have documented in article after article, Brown, rather than a being an "environmental leader" or "climate leader" as some proclaim, appears to be on a relentless march to the destruction of fish, water and the environment.  

The Governor has definitely earned the nicknames of "Big Oil Brown," "Big Ag Brown," and "The Extinction Governor."

For more information about Brown's many anti-environmental policies, go to: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/... http://www.counterpunch.org/20... or http://www.alternet.org/enviro...  

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Westlands Water District hires Rep. Nunes' chief of staff

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Mar 30, 2015 at 09:14:29 AM PDT

In yet another example of the revolving door between government, corporations and water contractors that defines California politics, the powerful Westlands Water District announced on March 27 that Johnny Amaral will join Westlands' staff as Deputy General Manager for External Affairs, effective May 1, 2015.

Mr. Amaral is currently the Chief of Staff for Representative Devin Nunes, who represents California's 22nd Congressional District and is best known for sponsoring legislation to increase pumping Delta water to corporate agribusiness and to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other species.

"His service as a congressional chief of staff provides him with a wealth of experience in the fields of government, public affairs, and communications," according to a statement from Westlands.

"The District is excited about Johnny joining the District's staff," said Thomas Birmingham, Westlands' General Manager. "His prior work with elected officials at all levels of government in the San Joaquin Valley and other regions of the state will be instrumental in helping to forge a unified Valley position on potential solutions to address the Valley's chronic water supply shortages."

Mr. Amaral holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, Fresno, that he received in 1997.  

Westlands will pay Amaral $250,000 a year - a 50 percent increase from his current salary in the House of Representatives.

Amaral's hiring serves to illustrate the increasing collaboration between government, water contractors and corporations in the state of California under Governor Jerry Brown. Just a few of the many examples of the revolving door between corporations and state government in recent years include:

• The Department of Water Resources' hiring of Susan Ramos "on loan" from the Westlands Water District, considered by many to be the "Darth Vader" of California water politics, to serve as "a liaison between all relevant parties" surrounding the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) and provide "technical and strategic assistance" to DWR (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/14/18702762.php)

Documents obtained by this reporter under the California Public Records Act revealed that Ramos, Deputy General Manager of the Westlands Water District, was hired in an "inter-jurisdictional personal exchange agreement" between the Department of Water Resources and Westlands Water District from November 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010. The contract was extended to run through December 31, 2011 and again to continue through December 31, 2012.  

• The resignation of State Senator Michael J. Rubio in February, 2013 to go work in a "government affairs" position for Chevron. Rubio, who was leading the charge to weaken the landmark California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and make it more friendly to corporations, claimed he resigned in order to spend more time with his family. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/23/1189354/-Senator-Michael-Rubio-resigns-to-take-job-with-Chevron)

• The hijacking of "marine protection" in California by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA). Reheis-Boyd chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-Top-Censored-Environmental-Story-of-2012-Marine-guardian-lobbies-for-offshore-oil-drilling-fracking.php)  

• Governor Jerry Brown's appointment of Laura King Moon of Woodland, a lobbyist for the state's water exporters, as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in September 2013. Prior to that appointment, Moon was a project manager for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan since 2011 while "on loan" from the State Water Contractors, a "non-profit association" of 27 public water agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the State Water Project.

"This appointment is just more of the fox guarding the hen house," said Tom Stokely, Water Policy Analyst for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), at the time of her appointment. "We know whose interests she will represent - and it's not the taxpayers of California."  

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Activists 'Shut Down' Nestlé Water Bottling Plant in Sacramento

by: Dan Bacher

Sun Mar 29, 2015 at 10:09:31 AM PDT

Environmental and human rights activists, holding plastic "torches" and "pitchforks," formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, March 20, effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day.  

Members of the "Crunch Nestlé Alliance" shouted out a number of chants, including "We got to fight for our right to water," "Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit," and "¿Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente."  

The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.

Representatives of the alliance said the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during a record drought. They claim Sacramento City Hall has made it possible through a "corporate welfare giveaway."

"This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation," Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said. "For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they're getting for it. In this case, they're getting ripped off."

Lola Ellis of 99 Rise Sacramento, who spoke on the bullhorn at the protest, said, "Nestlé's bottling of water in Sacramento is unsustainable in the current state of drought. We really don't' know how much water they are taking from the aquifer and that is a scary thing."

"The water needs to be used for the local community. If there is not enough water for the local community, the Nestlé corporation should not be making a profit," she emphasized.

The coalition protested what they call Nestlé's "virtually unlimited use of water" while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 to 10 percent of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them.

The coalition is calling on Nestlé to pay rates commensurate with its enormous profit, or voluntarily close down.

"Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground - the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area's water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profit," according to a news release from the activists.

They said Sacramento officials have refused attempts to obtain details of Nestlé's water use. Coalition members have addressed the Sacramento City Council and requested that Nestlé either pay a commercial rate under a two tier level, or pay a tax on its profit.

A call to the Sacramento City Department of Utilities about the details of Nestlés water use hadn't been returned as of press time.

But according to Fox 40 News, "In 2014 Nestlé says it used 50 million gallons from the Sacramento Municipal Water Supply, which they say is a fraction of one percent of total water demand within the city of Sacramento."  

A statement issued by the company in October 2014 regarding a previous protest in front of the plant said:

"In Sacramento, Nestlé Waters North America purchases and pays the standard metered rate for municipal water, which is delivered through the municipal pipe system. We are not ranked among the top 10 water users in Sacramento as we use about two thousandths of one percent (0.0016%) of Sacramento's total water demand. Our company is subject to any restrictions, drought or otherwise, imposed on all light industrial or business customers by the city of Sacramento and we comply with those restrictions." (http://www.scribd.com/doc/245724284/Nestle-Waters-North-America-Water-Management-Statement)  

Bob Saunders, also with the Crunch Nestlé Alliance, responded, "Nestlé can claim any amount of water they want, but we haven't seen any documentation of the amount of water they're using. We do know they're allowed to take up to 80 million gallons per year."

Mauro Oliveira, known as "Red Sun," showed up at the protest with his children, including Rise, Aren and Mahai'a, and connected the battle of local activists against Nestlé with the struggle of Indian Tribes, family farmers, grassroots environmental activists and fishermen to stop fracking, the Shasta Dam raise, and Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels, the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.

"This whole idea of bottling water goes against Indigenous Peoples' concept of water is sacred," said Oliveira. "The 20,000-year-old water in aquifers belongs to the last generation on earth. We don't have the right to tap into this water."

"The Governor said we should conserve, but millions of gallons of fracking waste are being reinjected into the aquifer in California. The Governor talks out of both sides of his mouth. Polluting our water supplies is a violation of human rights," said Oliveira.

You can view photos of the protest at: http://www.indybay.org/newsite...

Raiding pristine water from a National Forest stream

The bottling plant in Sacramento is not the only one in California. A recent investigation in the Desert Sun found that Nestlé Waters North America has been pumping water from pristine streams of the San Bernardino National Forest with little to no oversight by the U.S. Forestry Service. (http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2015/03/05/bottling-water-california-drought/24389417/)

"Nestlé Waters North America holds a longstanding right to use this water from the national forest near San Bernardino," according to the Sun. "But the U.S. Forest Service hasn't been keeping an eye on whether the taking of water is harming Strawberry Creek and the wildlife that depends on it. In fact, Nestle's permit to transport water across the national forest expired in 1988. It hasn't been reviewed since, and the Forest Service hasn't examined the ecological effects of drawing tens of millions of gallons each year from the springs."

On its website, Nestlé claims that it is committed to "environmental stewardship." (http://www.nestle-watersna.com/en/about-nestle-waters)

"36 years of experience promoting healthy hydration, Nestlé Waters North America has 15 leading U.S. and Canadian bottled water brands," according to the company. "The company's commitment to environmental stewardship, especially in the areas of water use, packaging and energy, as well as its dedication to partnering in the communities where it operates, have led Nestlé Waters to achieve the number one bottled drinking water position in the U.S."

Activists disagree strongly with the company's claims of commitment to "environmental stewardship." In October, the "Crunch Nestlé" coalition released a "white paper" highlighting predatory water profiteering actions taken by Nestle' Water Bottling Company in various cities, counties, states and countries.

Most of those great "deals" yielded mega profits for Nestlé at the expense of the public. Additionally, the environmental impact on many of those areas yielded "disastrous results," the paper stated.

Nestlé is currently the leading supplier of the world's bottled water, including such brands as Perrier and San Pellegrino. It has has 7,500 employees and 29 bottled water facilities across the U.S. and Canada, and annual revenues were $4.0 billion in 2012, up 6.8% from 2011. For nearly four decades, activists from an array of organizations have criticized the company for its human rights violations throughout the world.

For example, Food and Water Watch and other organizations blasted Nestlé's "Human Rights Impact Assessment," released at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in December 2013, as a "public relations stunt."
(http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/pressreleases/organizations-denounce-nestles-new-human-rights-impact-assessment-as-a-public-relations-stunt-us-version/)

"The failure to examine Nestlé's track record on the human right to water is not surprising given recent statements by its chair Peter Brabeck-Letmath challenging the human right to water," said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. She noted that the company famously declared at the 2000 World Water Forum in the Netherlands that water should be defined as a need-not as a human right.

Watch Nestlé's CEO declare water "food that should be privatized, and not a human right": http://http://www.globalresear...

More recently Brabeck-Letmathe, after facing international criticism for his remarks, reversed course and now said he thinks that "water is a human right and that everyone, everywhere in the world, has the right to clean, safe water for drinking and sanitation." (http://www.nestle.com/aboutus/ask-nestle/answers/nestle-chairman-peter-brabeck-letmathe-believes-water-is-a-human-right?gclid=CPX_jpydycQCFQaTfgodFjAA0Q)

But activists continue to cite the company's bad human rights record, noting that Nestlé workers who have protested unjust labor conditions at the corporation's facilities in Colombia have been assassinated by paramilitary death squads.

"In November 2013, Colombian trade unionist Oscar Lopez Trivino became the fifteenth Nestlé worker to be assassinated by a paramilitary organization while many of his fellow workers were in the midst of a hunger strike protesting the corporation's refusal to hear their grievances," according to the groups.

Taking the water from aquifers throughout the world and the deaths of workers protesting Nestlé policies are not the only violation of human rights that activists charge the corporation with. Groups including the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and Save the Children claim that the promotion of Nestlé infant formula over breastfeeding has led to health problems and deaths among infants in less economically developed countries.

"They're a despicable company with death built into their business plan," summed up Conn.

For more information about the Crunch Nestlé Alliance, contact Andy Conn (530) 906-8077 camphgr55 (at) gmail.com or Bob Saunders (916) 370-8251

The Drought and The Tunnels

The Sacramento protest took place just days after Jay Famiglietti, the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, revealed in an op-ed in the LA Times on March 12 that California has only one year of water supply left in its reservoirs. (http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83043355/)

The protest also made the news as Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to ship Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking operations.

The $67 billion plan won't create one single drop of new water, but it will take vast tracts of Delta farm land out of production under the guise of "habitat restoration" in order to irrigate drainage-impaired soil owned by corporate mega-growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The tunnel plan will also 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 the salmon and steelhead populations on the Klamath and Trinity rivers. The peripheral tunnels will be good for agribusiness, water privateers, oil companies and the 1 percent, but will be bad for the fish, wildlife, people and environment of California and the public trust.

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Pit River Tribe and Allies Rally to Protect Medicine Lake

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Mar 16, 2015 at 15:51:09 PM PDT

On March 12, the Pit River Tribe and their Native American and environmental allies optimistically left the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco following oral arguments in their long legal battle to protect the Medicine Lake Highlands from geothermal destruction and desecration.

The Pit River people, the lead defendants in the case, are fighting in court to defend the Highlands, known to them as "Saht Tit Lah." The Pit River, Wintun, Karuk, Shasta and Modoc Nations hold the Medicine Lake Highlands sacred, and have used the region for healing, religious ceremonies and tribal gatherings for thousands of years.  

The Tribe and their supporters appeared at the hearing with their attorney, Deborah A. Sivas, Director of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, in the case of the Pit River Tribe vs. US Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, & Calpine Corporation, Defendants-Appellees. The Tribe's supporters included the Native Coalition for Medicine Lake Highlands Defense, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, Save Medicine Lake Coalition, and Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment.

"The struggle to protect the sacred Medicine Lake Highlands has been a long one, but over the years, we have only learned more and more about the importance of the landscape to Native Americans and California more generally," said Deborah Sivas, who represents the Pit River Tribe and environmental organizations in the lawsuit. "I was happy to see that the court understood our arguments that the Tribe has a deep, abiding connection to the area."

"The judges asked really good questions and we are optimistic about the outcome," said Morning Star Gali of the Pit River Tribe. "At one point Calpine said that nobody had the authority except for themselves to challenge the leases. This showed total disregard for the Tribe's utilization of the sacred lake and highlands for over 10,000 years."  

Pit River Tribal Chairman Mickey Gemmill said, "Medicine Lake is a sacred place and it needs to be protected at all costs. We're trying to preserve our culture and Medicine Lake is part of the beginning of our people. If we allow these corporations to come in and frack, we could lose that chance to bring back that part of our culture. So we're asking the Calpine Corporation to step back and leave the Medicine Lake Highlands alone."

The event began at 7 am with a sunrise prayer vigil and ceremonial gathering at Yerba Buena Gardens near the courthouse. Gorrina Gould, Ohlone leader, started the vigil with a prayer to welcome people in Yalamu territory. That was followed by a  prayer and song by Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and Radley and Louise Davis of the Pit River Tribe, according to Gali.

At around 8 am they began a "Protect Water and Sacred Sites, Defend Human Rights March" from Yerba Buena Park to the James R. Browning US Courthouse and then held a rally with speakers and a song by Radley Davis outside the courthouse. The court hearing lasted from 11:30 AM-12:30 PM and was followed by a press conference on the steps of the courthouse immediately after the hearing.  

Representatives of Native Nations and environmentalist supporters went before the U.S. Court of Appeals to argue their case that the energy leases were renewed illegally by federal agencies in 1998 for industrial development on national forest lands in the Medicine Lake Highlands, a near-pristine area about 30 miles northeast of Mount Shasta that has been designated a "Native American Traditional Cultural District."

The Native American and environmental plaintiffs assert that industrial energy development would "desecrate and pollute" the beautiful area and pose unacceptable risks to California's largest fresh water aquifer. They said that contrary to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other laws, the federal agencies never evaluated the threshold question of whether industrial geothermal development is even appropriate for this landscape.

"What was never considered is whether development is even appropriate for the Medicine Lake Highlands in the first place, given the area's high benefit in holding California's largest pure underground aquifer," said Michelle Berditschevsky, senior conservation consultant for the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center.  

Berditschevsky said the panel of three Ninth Circuit judges will take the case under advisement, and a decision can be expected within three to nine months, or perhaps even longer depending on the backlog of cases. To read her legal commentary, go to: http://mountshastaecology.org/...    

Medicine Lake is a small high mountain lake, located at an elevation of 6,680 feet, that lies within the Medicine Lake caldera, a depression near the summit of the Medicine Lake volcano. Medicine Lake offers boating, camping, fishing, hiking and swimming and other recreation. It is known for its abundant brook and rainbow trout that anglers pursue with an array of angling methods.

Five new geothermal power plant projects proposed by the Houston-based Calpine Corporation threaten to poison the waters of Medicine Lake, according to the Tribe and their supporters. A report by Dr. Robert Curry, a registered hydro-geologist and professor emeritus at the University of California-Santa Cruz, assessing the potential impacts of geothermal development suggests, "the processes that Calpine were trying to use, required chemicals to try and reach hot rock, as opposed to hot mud...were fairly experimental, probably inefficient, and would without doubt lead to contamination of the water supply."

The Highlands are home to many unique plant and wildlife species that depend on clean water to survive. "Every day during the summer, bald eagles and osprey can be seen diving into Medicine Lake for fish. Deer pass through the campgrounds and occasionally an elk or black bear can be seen crossing one of the roads leading to the lake," said Gali.  

"Geothermal development in the surrounding national forest would increase traffic, noise, water and air pollution and would fragment wildlife habitat, turning the remote landscape into an industrial wasteland and threatening a reliable source of pure water," said Janie Painter, executive director of the Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment, consisting of Medicine Lake cabin owners and recreationalists.  

Jason George, a certified Law student in the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, noted, "It was great to see such a big turnout by tribe members at the hearing. We were gratified to represent the tribe and fight for the future of the Medicine Lake Highlands in the 9th Circuit."

As California enters its fourth year of a record drought, the Medicine Lake Highlands hold tremendous and critical value as a water supply to California's fish, wildlife and people from the summit of the caldera to the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary.

Gali pointed out how the water from the aquifer travels from Medicine Lake and the Highlands to the Fall River, Pit River, Sacramento River and then finally to the imperiled San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary. "If Calpine is given the green light, this will definitely be a big detriment to the fish and the entire fragile ecosystem," said Gali.

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, commented, "The tribal attorneys did a fine job today. The questions the judge asked Calpine Energy forced their hand, and were quite direct. You know, these courts really weren't built for us, for native peoples, yet we rely on them when development and economics override Mother Earth."

"If the Pit River Nation prevails, it will be a win for everyone in California. Somewhere there must be someone who can stand up for Mother Earth. As I took photos today of the children who traveled here with parents, I was praying that this fight would not continue in their lifetime," added Chief Sisk.

The case proceeds through the courts as Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the Peripheral Tunnels, considered by many to be the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history. The $67 billion plan will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, while imperiling the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

The court arguments may be archived at:  http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/me... https://www.youtube.com/user/9...

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Art Pulaski: Workers are Left in the Dark with Fast Track

by: California Labor Federation

Wed Feb 25, 2015 at 13:14:44 PM PST

by Rachel Johnson

There's trouble brewing in Washington D.C. for American workers. In the coming weeks, our congress will decide whether or not to pass Fast Track legislation that will allow trade deals to be made behind closed doors and without any oversight from the people most impacted: American workers.

In a recent opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee Art Pulaski, Executive-Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, cautioned against turning a blind eye to Fast Track:

In the case of pending legislation authorizing fast-track authority for trade agreements, politicians and corporate lobbyists are pushing to eliminate transparency in favor of expediency. That's a dangerous course with major implications for our economy. Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority has resulted in secretly negotiated agreements that benefit big corporations at the expense of workers and their families.

Fast Track legislation will allow trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be negotiated by a select few, without any attempt to represent the people who may lose their livelihoods as a result. If we've learned anything from history, similar deals have created more harm than good for generations of American workers. Pulaski emphasizes:

The job-loss numbers directly related to seriously flawed trade deals are staggering. Between 2000 and 2014, American manufacturing employment dropped by 4 million jobs. And these were family-supporting jobs that strengthened communities. Since Congress approved permanent normal trade relations with China, the growth in the U.S. trade deficit with China has resulted in the net loss of more than 3.2 million jobs, including nearly 600,000 in California, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

That's 3.2 million hardworking Americans who, through no fault of their own, found themselves ripped from the middle class and forced into low-wage jobs or, even worse, long-term joblessness.

It's imperative for our representatives in Congress to withstand significant political pressure to pass Fast Track and uphold their duty to the represent hard working families who voted them into office. Pulaski underscores the need to reach out to your elected representative and insist they vote no on Fast Track:


We must do better. Stopping the outsourcing of good, American jobs should be a top priority for our nation's leaders. It's time to reform trade negotiations so that workers in California and around the country are no longer getting the short end of the stick. Fast track needs to be replaced with a new process for negotiating and approving trade deals that increases congressional and public oversight so we can harvest the benefits of expanded trade without gutting the middle class and undermining basic tenets of American democracy.

We urge Reps. Doris Matsui and Ami Bera and all members of Congress to reject fast-track authority so that future trade deals help, not harm, California's economy.

Click here to tell your member of the House of Representatives you oppose Fast Track, or dial 855-712-8441 and we'll connect you. Learn more about Fast Track here.

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Governor Jerry Brown wins "Cold, Dead Fish Award" three years in a row!

by: Dan Bacher

Sun Feb 15, 2015 at 10:16:42 AM PST

It's time to present the "Cold, Dead Fish Awards," an annual "tribute" to those individuals, government agencies, corporations and others who have gone out of their way to destroy and despoil the fish, rivers, lakes, bays and ocean waters of California.

The year 2014 started off with a record drought that was aggravated by the impact of the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources draining Trinity, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs to record low levels to fill southern California reservoirs and the Kern Water Bank.

Folsom Lake dropped to its lowest level ever, forcing the closure of the American River to fishing as releases were reduced to 500 cfs. While February and March were wet months, the drought continued throughout the year, with the exception of a few big storms in December.

2014 was one of the toughest years ever for fish in California history. As a result of the mismanagement of Folsom Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation during a drought, Nimbus Fish Hatchery staff counted the lowest number of steelhead ever recorded, 10 fish, by December 29, normally a date when hundreds if not thousands of fish had already returned to the river.

For its disastrous water policies and the near-extinction of American River steelhead, as well as its continuing drive to raise Shasta Dam, David Murrillo, MidPacific Director of the Bureau, receives the "Extinct Steelhead" award.

However, the Bureau of Reclamation had a very willing partner in the destruction of California's fisheries, California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird.

As if draining the reservoirs and endangering American River steelhead and winter run Chinook salmon on the Sacramento River weren't enough, the California Fish and Wildlife's Fall Midwater Trawl Survey on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta revealed that the Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014. Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of over 100 sites sampled each month from September through December.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta. The striped bass index was the third lowest in history, the longfin smelt index was the third lowest in history, the threadfin shad index was the sixth lowest in history, and the American shad indiex was the second lowest in history.

For their continued commitment to driving Delta smelt and other fish species towards extinction, the esteemed "environmentalists" Cowin and Laird receive the "Delta Smelt Destruction Crew" award.

The year 2014 began and ended with moves to push forward drought relief legislation by Congressman Devin Nunes, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and Congressman David Valadao, with the support of House Speaker John Boehner, to allow the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to operate "as long as water is available."

Restore the Delta described the legislation as "nothing more than a blatant, short-sighted water grab, fueled by years of political contributions from huge growers in the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water Agency to these Central Valley Congressional Representatives."

On December 9, in spite of intense opposition by fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and Northern California Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by 230 to 182 "drought relief" legislation, H.R. 5781, that would eviscerate protections for Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other fish species.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and the Obama administration opposed the bill, but you can expect a similar bill to be introduced in the new Congress and Senate this year.

For their efforts to destroy what's left of the Delta fisheries, co-sponsors Reps. David G. Valadao (CA-21), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), and Devin Nunes (CA-22), received the "Corporate Welfare Crybabies" award.

On the ocean front, Brown administration officials and corporate "environmental" NGOS continued to greenwash the fake "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, in spite of the fact that the science underlying the process was terminally flawed, according to the Yurok Tribe science team and other Tribal scientists, while the process was overseen by corrupt corporate interests. The process was also characterized by its private funding by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, its failure to create authentic marine protected areas, and the violation of traditional Tribal fishing and gathering rights. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-MLPA-Initiative-based-on-incomplete-and-terminally-flawed-science.php#.VOIZXN3Dy9U)

The illegitimacy of the MLPA Initiative "science" was highlighted when a federal judge in San Francisco on May 20 sentenced Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to serve 10 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle over $852,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe.

In February LeValley pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond.

For the demonstration of his lack of scientific ethics, we grant Ron LeValley with the "Junk Science Criminal" of the Year " award.

But we're not done yet. In spite of calls for an investigation of the terminally flawed science developed by the "Science Advisory Team" under the embezzler's helm, Chuck Bonham, Department of Fish and Wildlife Director, and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird continue to propagate the "Big Lie" that the process was "open, transparent and inclusive" and "based on science." For their "heroic" efforts to greenwash the MLPA Initiative, Bonham and Laird receive "The Big Lie" award of 2014.

Of course, we can't give these awards without a big "round of applause" to Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the task forces for the Central, North Central and North Coast.

The (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, has spent a total of $32,871,430 on lobbying since January 1, 2009. The group paid a record $8.9 million on lobbying to eviscerate California's environmental laws, oppose fracking moratorium legislation and to defeat a bill to protect the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and Tranquillon Ridge from new oil drilling.

For her service to Big Oil by kicking fishermen and tribal members off vast areas of the ocean while opposing California's environmental laws, Reheis-Boyd gets the "Oil-Drenched Marine Guardian" award.

Always a big contender in these awards, the Westlands Water District and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority are awarded the "Raid on the Trinity" plaque for their continuing litigation to block the release of Trinity River water to stop an imminent fish kill on the Klamath in August when the water was warming up.

Fortunately, due to direct action protests by the Hoopa Valley Tribe and members of the Yurok, Karuk and Winnemen Tribes, combined with litigation by the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the Bureau of Reclamation made the decision to release the water from the river and stop a massive fish kill from taking place like the one when over 68,000 salmon perished in September 2002.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills billionaire owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting the construction of the peripheral tunnels and campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations.

The Resnicks made over $270,000 in contributions to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, $350,000 to support Gov. Gray Davis, and $102,000 to Gov. Jerry Brown. Most recently, Stewart Resnick made a donation of $150,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 and 2 campaign to make sure the bond benefited him and corporate agribusiness allies. For their continual dedication to destroying our fisheries while making huge profits off selling back subsidized water to the public, Lynda and Stewart Resnick receive the "Koch Brothers of California" award.

Finally, there comes the most prestigious award, the "Cold, Dead Fish." The common link in much of the destruction and mayhem I've described in my articles is Jerry Brown, the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in recent California history. Brown has constantly gushed about his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he enthusiastically supports the expansion of fracking in California and is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

While the mainstream media and Brown's collaborators continue to greenwash the Governor's neo-liberal carbon trading policies, he has in fact continued and expanded the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration, including exporting massive quantities of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California water agencies and implementing the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create fake "marine protected areas."

Brown and his backers in 2014 dumped over $16.4 million into Proposition 1, a water grab for agribusiness that passed in November. Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, summed up the water bond as "a poster-child of why California is in a water crisis: it enriches water speculators but accomplishes little in addressing the drought, solving California's long-term water needs, reducing reliance on The Delta, or protecting our rivers and fisheries."

Brown and his staff also continued to fast track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, in spite of the fact that the fiasco could violate the federal Clean Water Act and increase harm to endangered fish species, according to a scathing 43 page letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Brown administration, in collaboration with the Obama administration, presided over the near extinction of Delta smelt, formerly the most abundant fish in the estuary, as well as a record low steelhead run on American River. In recent California history, it is hard to find a Governor that has overseen more destruction of California's fish, waterways and environment than Jerry Brown, yet the mainstream media and corporate "environmental" NGOs continue to falsely portray Brown as a "green" Governor.

For his continuing efforts to plunder California's natural resources while posing as a "Green Governor" promoting "green energy" and addressing "climate change," Brown gets the "Cold, Dead Fish Award" for the third year in a row.

For more information about the real environmental legacy of "Big Oil Brown, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20...

The year 2014 started off with a record drought that was aggravated by the impact of the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources draining Trinity, Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs to record low levels to fill southern California reservoirs and the Kern Water Bank.

Folsom Lake dropped to its lowest level ever, forcing the closure of the American River to fishing as releases were reduced to 500 cfs. While February and March were wet months, the drought continued throughout the year, with the exception of a few big storms in December.

2014 was one of the toughest years ever for fish in California history. As a result of the mismanagement of Folsom Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation during a drought, Nimbus Fish Hatchery staff counted the lowest number of steelhead ever recorded, 10 fish, by December 29, normally a date when hundreds if not thousands of fish had already returned to the river.

For its disastrous water policies and the near-extinction of American River steelhead, as well as its continuing drive to raise Shasta Dam, David Murrillo, MidPacific Director of the Bureau, receives the "Extinct Steelhead" award.

However, the Bureau of Reclamation had a very willing partner in the destruction of California's fisheries, California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird.

As if draining the reservoirs and endangering American River steelhead and winter run Chinook salmon on the Sacramento River weren't enough, the California Fish and Wildlife's Fall Midwater Trawl Survey on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta revealed that the Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014. Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of over 100 sites sampled each month from September through December.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta. The striped bass index was the third lowest in history, the longfin smelt index was the third lowest in history, the threadfin shad index was the sixth lowest in history, and the American shad indiex was the second lowest in history.

For their continued commitment to driving Delta smelt and other fish species towards extinction, the esteemed "environmentalists" Cowin and Laird receive the "Delta Smelt Destruction Crew" award.

The year 2014 began and ended with moves to push forward drought relief legislation by Congressman Devin Nunes, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, and Congressman David Valadao, with the support of House Speaker John Boehner, to allow the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to operate "as long as water is available."

Restore the Delta described the legislation as "nothing more than a blatant, short-sighted water grab, fueled by years of political contributions from huge growers in the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water Agency to these Central Valley Congressional Representatives."

On December 9, in spite of intense opposition by fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and Northern California Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by 230 to 182 "drought relief" legislation, H.R. 5781, that would eviscerate protections for Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other fish species.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and the Obama administration opposed the bill, but you can expect a similar bill to be introduced in the new Congress and Senate this year.  

For their efforts to destroy what's left of the Delta fisheries, co-sponsors Reps. David G. Valadao (CA-21), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Tom McClintock (CA-04), and Devin Nunes (CA-22), received the "Corporate Welfare Crybabies" award.

On the ocean front, Brown administration officials and corporate "environmental" NGOS continued to greenwash the fake "marine protected areas" created under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, in spite of the fact that the science underlying the process was terminally flawed, according to the Yurok Tribe science team and other Tribal scientists, while the process was overseen by corrupt corporate interests. The process was also characterized by its private funding by the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, its failure to create authentic marine protected areas, and the violation of traditional Tribal fishing and gathering rights. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-MLPA-Initiative-based-on-incomplete-and-terminally-flawed-science.php#.VOIZXN3Dy9U)

The illegitimacy of the MLPA Initiative "science" was highlighted when a federal judge in San Francisco on May 20 sentenced Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to serve 10 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle over $852,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe.

In February LeValley pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond.

For the demonstration of his lack of scientific ethics, we grant Ron LeValley with the "Junk Science Criminal" of the Year " award.

But we're not done yet. In spite of calls for an investigation of the terminally flawed science developed by the "Science Advisory Team" under the embezzler's helm, Chuck Bonham, Department of Fish and Wildlife Director, and Natural Resources Secretary John Laird continue to propagate the "Big Lie" that the process was "open, transparent and inclusive" and  "based on science." For their "heroic" efforts to greenwash the MLPA Initiative, Bonham and Laird receive "The Big Lie" award of 2014.

Of course, we can't give these awards without a big "round of applause" to Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the task forces for the Central, North Central and North Coast.

The (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, has spent a total of $32,871,430 on lobbying since January 1, 2009. The group paid a record $8.9 million on lobbying to eviscerate California's environmental laws, oppose fracking moratorium legislation and to defeat a bill to protect  the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and Tranquillon Ridge from new oil drilling.  

For her service to Big Oil by kicking fishermen and tribal members off vast areas of the ocean while opposing California's environmental laws, Reheis-Boyd gets the "Oil-Drenched Marine Guardian" award.  

Always a big contender in these awards, the Westlands Water District and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority are awarded the "Raid on the Trinity" plaque for their continuing litigation to block the release of Trinity River water to stop an imminent fish kill on the Klamath in August when the water was warming up.

Fortunately, due to direct action protests by the Hoopa Valley Tribe and members of the Yurok, Karuk and Winnemen Tribes, combined with litigation by the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the Bureau of Reclamation made the decision to release the water from the river and stop a massive fish kill from taking place like the one when over 68,000 salmon perished in September 2002.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills billionaire owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting the construction of the peripheral tunnels and campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations.

The Resnicks made over $270,000 in contributions to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, $350,000 to support Gov. Gray Davis, and $102,000 to Gov. Jerry Brown. Most recently, Stewart Resnick made a donation of $150,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 and 2 campaign to make sure the bond benefited him and corporate agribusiness allies. For their continual dedication to destroying our fisheries while making huge profits off selling back subsidized water to the public, Lynda and Stewart Resnick receive the "Koch Brothers of California" award.

Finally, there comes the most prestigious award, the "Cold, Dead Fish." The common link in much of the destruction and mayhem I've described in my articles is Jerry Brown, the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in recent California history.  Brown has constantly gushed about his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he enthusiastically supports the expansion of fracking in California and is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.  

While the mainstream media and Brown's collaborators continue to greenwash the Governor's neo-liberal carbon trading policies, he has in fact continued and expanded the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration, including exporting massive quantities of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California water agencies and implementing the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create fake "marine protected areas.  

Brown and his backers in 2014 dumped over $16.4 million into Proposition 1, a water grab for agribusiness that passed in November. Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, summed up the water bond as "a poster-child of why California is in a water crisis: it enriches water speculators but accomplishes little in addressing the drought, solving California's long-term water needs, reducing reliance on The Delta, or protecting our rivers and fisheries."

Brown and his staff also continued to fast track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, in spite of the fact that the fiasco could violate the federal Clean Water Act and increase harm to endangered fish species, according to a scathing 43 page letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Brown administration, in collaboration with the Obama administration, presided over the near extinction of Delta smelt, formerly the most abundant fish in the estuary, as well as a record low steelhead run on American River. In recent California history, it is hard to find a Governor that has overseen more destruction of California's fish, waterways and environment than Jerry Brown, yet the mainstream media and corporate "environmental" NGOs continue to falsely portray Brown as a "green" Governor.

For his continuing efforts to plunder California's natural resources while posing as a "Green Governor" promoting "green energy" and addressing "climate change," Brown gets the "Cold, Dead Fish Award" for the third year in a row.

For more information about the real environmental legacy of "Big Oil Brown, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20...

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Speaker Atkins Unveils Critical Plan to Rebuild Transportation Infrastructure, Create Good Jobs

by: California Labor Federation

Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 00:33:44 AM PST

by Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

About 1/3 of all the bridges and overpasses in our state are showing signs of deterioration (i.e. crumbling). Seventy percent of our urban roads and highways are congested. California has the second-highest share of roads in "poor condition" in the nation.

Given the amount of commuting and traveling Californians do, these are pretty alarming stats. But you get what you pay for. And, quite frankly, California's lack of infrastructure funding is embarrassing, and downright dangerous to all of us who spend so much time on the road every week.

Today California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announced a long-overdue proposal to rebuild our run-down roads and bridges, ease traffic congestion and create a lot of good, middle-class jobs doing it.

Speaker Atkins:

California cannot have a strong middle class or a thriving economy if our roadways are congested and people and goods cannot move efficiently throughout the state. The Assembly is stepping up and proposing $10 billion for transportation infrastructure-$2 billion per year over the next 5 years-starting in 2015-16.

Labor has long been sounding the alarm on the need to fix our eroding infrastructure. It's a no-brainer. We can create tens of thousands of jobs by upgrading our roads, bridges and transportation system. And fixing our infrastructure makes California more competitive, which creates even more jobs.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Years of neglect have rendered many of our roads and bridges unsafe, leaving California families at risk. Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure would create good jobs that strengthen our middle class and spark our economy. It's time we invest in a transportation system that makes us safer while supporting workers, small businesses and all California families.

Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California:

California is paying a heavy price for having underfunded highway and bridge infrastructure for decades. Years of massive budget deficits resulted in billions of transportation dollars being diverted elsewhere. California's growing population and economy depends on the efficient movement of people and goods from our factories and ports throughout the state.  Investment in repairing and re-building our roads is critical to our economy and quality of life and also creates tens of thousands of good new construction jobs.

The Assembly plan includes:

• $1 billion per year by returning truck Weight Fees to transportation instead of using them to repay general obligation debt.

• $200 million per year for transportation funding by accelerating repayment of transportation loans.

• $800 million per year in new net funds for transportation by establishing a new Road User Charge.

The Road User Charge is estimated to be only about $1 per week for most drivers. A pretty small price to pay for keeping our families safe on the roadways.

Speaker Atkins:

This is the right proposal at the right time. California has overcome a dangerous recession in our very recent past, the present is fiscally stable and looking stronger every day, so now we need to look ahead and help fix the future. And addressing transportation funding so we can have better, safer, and faster infrastructure is a key part of fixing the future.

The Speaker has shown real leadership in proposing this bold plan.  If we're at all concerned about the future, we need to turn this proposal into reality.

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California Judges barred from Boy Scouts

by: Veppy

Tue Jan 27, 2015 at 09:06:33 AM PST

According to an article in today's (26 Jan) Los Angeles Daily Journal, the California Supreme Court has voted unanimously to bar judges and justices in the state from being a part of the Boy Scouts, because of that organization's discriminatory practices and policies.

The article (behind a paywall,of course), notes that this was first suggested some 13 years ago, but the idea went down in flames.  It has been raised several times since then, but has always had opposition from the far right. And more opposition is expected to this latest ruling. No statement or rationale accompanies the ruling.  The chair of the Ethics committee,Justice Richard Fybel of the 4th District, who recommended the measure, said it was "the right thing to do."

The right wing, of course, has slammed the decision as 'tyrannical'.  they are the same ones that claim this will forbid judges from being members of churches.  Purest hyperbole, though, has not won this time, and it's about time.

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New Economic Policy Institute Report Details Economic Challenges Facing UC Workers

by: California Labor Federation

Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 15:10:05 PM PST

By Jason Rabinowitz, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 2010

More than 80 percent of University of California (UC) support staff employees are paid wages too low to provide the basic necessities of life in the areas where they live and work, according to preliminary findings of a study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute.  

As Governor Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano meet to discuss the financial future of the UC, it's imperative that they recognize the dire financial situation of many UC employees. The UC is the third largest employer in California, employing nearly 200,000 workers, directly creating 1 in 46 jobs in the state, and generating $46.3 billion in economic activity annually. The 14,000 administrative and essential support services workers in the UC system are 81% female and over 50% people of color, and include administrative assistants, collection representatives, childcare assistants, and 911 dispatchers.  

Between 2007 and 2011 these essential support workers received no pay increases, while student tuition skyrocketed. The workers have also fallen behind due to substantial increases in costs for retirement and healthcare, parking fees, and inflation.  During the same period, the state slashed funding to UC, and currently contributes $460 million less per year in funding than it did in 2007. On a per-student basis, state funding for UC has decreased by more than half since 1991.

"Our voices have been silenced for too long, and need to be heard," said Catherine Cobb, President of Local 2010 and former employee at UC Irvine. "The answer is not more pay-cuts and tuition increases. The time has come for the state to fund the University of California."

Elise Gould, Senior Economist with EPI explains:

The Economic Policy Institute has calculated basic family budgets for every area of the United States for over a decade now. Our methodology is so respected that the family budget data has been used and cited by groups ranging from living wage advocates to private employers to academics to policymakers. These basic family budgets measure how much it costs various representative family types to have an adequate but modest standard of living in over 600 local areas across the country. Applying the basic family budget data to the reported wages of University of California union workers indicates that 82.5 percent of University of California support employees in the clerical and related classifications would not earn enough from their wages, even if they worked full-time, to exceed the basic family budget for a family with one adult and one child in their respective metropolitan areas.

It's unfortunate that the University is contributing to the national problem of declining middle-class wages and increased income inequality. The UC is one of the leading economic forces in California, and has a tremendous impact on the economy of our state.  We need UC to be a force for good jobs in our communities and a fair economy. The Legislature and the Governor must renew California's commitment to adequately fund higher education.

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Oil lobbyist/former MLPA chair praises release of fracking EIR

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Jan 20, 2015 at 18:44:25 PM PST

The oil industry praised the release of the California Natural Resources Agency's draft environmental impact report of fracking operations in California, while environmental groups slammed the report for failing to address the many major risks posed by the controversial well stimulation technique.

Catherine Reheis Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, praised the Brown administration's release of the regulation in a statement.

"The release of the draft EIR on Well Stimulation Operations marks an important milestone in meeting the deadlines set by Senate Bill 4. WSPA and our members are reviewing the details of the draft EIR and will continue to participate in workshops and public discussion regarding SB 4," said Reheis-Boyd.

"While we are pleased with the state's process on implementing Senate Bill 4, it is important to note the draft EIR contemplates hypothetical development scenarios and provides a high level review. To date, well stimulation in California has never been associated with any known adverse environmental impacts," Reheis-Boyd claimed. (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/wspa-president-comments-report-detailing-environmental-impact-well-stimulation-operations)

In contrast with Reheis Boyd's claim that the release of the draft regulations mark an "important milestone" in meeting the deadlines set by Senate Bill 4, the Center for Biological for Biological Diversity said the draft environmental review of fracking "fails to adequately analyze many major risks from fracking, including air and water pollution and risks to public health."

The group noted that the review by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources was released even though state scientists are still six months away from completing their analysis of the risks and harms of the controversial form of oil and gas extraction.

"The California Council on Science and Technology today released the first volume of a state-commissioned, three-part fracking study," according to the Center. "The other two volumes won't be released until July, and the first volume addresses only the extent of fracking in California and does not assess risks."

"State oil officials' deeply flawed fracking review shows the urgent need for Gov. Brown to institute an immediate moratorium on fracking and other dangerous oil and gas development," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "State regulators are shrugging off the grave threats to our air, water and health from oil and gas wells. Instead of whitewashing the risks, California needs to follow New York's lead and halt these dangerous activities immediately."

The science council reported that fracking is heavily concentrated in communities in the San Joaquin Valley, which already suffers some of the nation's most polluted air.

According to a recent American Lung Association report, the five cities with the most polluted air in the nation are in California - and three out of these five are in the San Joaquin Valley. (http://www.stateoftheair.org/2014/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html

These five cities are:
#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
#2: Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
#3: Bakersfield, CA
#4: Fresno-Madera, CA
#5: Sacramento-Roseville, CA

But the council also said that fracking has occurred in at least 96 different oil and gas fields around the state and reiterated concerns about the risk of contaminated oil industry wastewater potentially being used to irrigate crops.

"The draft report from DOGGR focuses almost exclusively on fracking and other well-stimulation techniques, rather than considering the risks and harms associated with all phases of drilling and production, which cannot be separated from well stimulation," said Siegel. "Because of this flawed approach, state regulators can't fully analyze the environmental risks, but even this incomplete review admits fracking causes significant and unavoidable damage to California's air, biological and cultural resources, public safety and climate."

She also said the DOGGR review downplays the risks of water pollution, despite a previous finding from state scientists that fracking in California occurs at shallower depths than elsewhere, increasing the potential threat of contaminating groundwater, and despite the state's failure to protect groundwater from pollution by oil and gas wastewater, as required by federal law.

The Environmental Protection Agency has found "serious deficiencies" in California's effort to protect water supplies from contaminated oil industry wastewater, according to Siegel. Almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater have been illegally dumped into central California aquifers that should have been protected under federal law and are clean enough to supply drinking water and farming irrigation, according to recently released state documents obtained by the Center.

The wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) fluids and other pollutants. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/california_fracking/pdfs/20140915_State_Board_UIC_well_list_Category_1a.pdf)

Siegel said thousands of wells have already been fracked in 15 counties across California, as well as in the state's coastal waters.

The oil industry has been fracking like crazy off the Southern California coast over the past two decades, including the years that the WSPA President served as the Chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California.

"In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach - some of the region's most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions - oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades, according to interviews and drilling records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request," stated am Associated Press report published on October 19, 2013 (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)

New York health officials recently released a fracking analysis that found that fracking posed significant threats to the environment and public health, noted Siegel. On the basis of that report, New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on fracking in that state.

"Gov. Brown must follow New York's lead and protect our health and climate from oil and gas pollution," Siegel concluded.

Background: Big Oil Money and Power in California

While there are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, no industry has more influence over the state's environmental policies than Big Oil.

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, including record amounts of money spent during the third quarter of 2014, according to a recent report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California. (http://www.lung.org/associations/states/california/advocacy/climate-change/oil-industy-lobbying-report.pdf)

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009. Chevron was second in lobbying expenses with a total of $15,542,565 spent during the same period.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California "with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation," said Barrett.

And this doesn't include spending on ballot measures or the recent election, including Chevron spending $3 million (unsuccessfully!) to elect "their" candidates to the Richmond City Council. Big Oil also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

Not only does Big Oil spend many millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but its representatives also serve on state and federal regulatory panels and fund "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California. Not only did she serve on this panel, but she also was a member of the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

These so-called "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

Not only did these so-called "Yosemites of the Sea" fail to protect the ocean, but they violate the traditional fishing and gathering rights of the Yurok Tribe and other Indian Nations and are based on terminally flawed and incomplete science. In fact, Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, is currently in federal prison for conspiracy to embezzle $850,000 from the Yurok Tribe.

People need to understand that the millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up "Astroturf" groups promoting the oil industry agenda are small change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies - BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell - made a combined total of $93 billion in profits last year. Big Oil's estimated profits in 2014 were over $96 billion. (http://www.stopfoolingca.org/)

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Delta smelt reaches new record low in fall survey

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 16:10:38 PM PST

The Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, reached a new record low population level in 2014, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's fall midwater trawl survey that was released Friday, January 9.

Department staff found a total of only eight smelt at a total of 100 sites sampled each month from September through December

The smelt was once the most abundant fish in the Bay-Delta Estuary. It is considered an indicator species because the 2.0 to 2.8 inch long fish is endemic to the estuary and spends all of its life in the Delta.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has conducted the Fall Midwater Trawl Survey (FMWT) to index the fall abundance of pelagic (open water) fish, including Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad, nearly annually since 1967. The index of each species is a number that indicates a relative population abundance.

The dramatic decline of fish species this year is part of a long term decline of fish species, due to massive water exports out of the Delta, increases in toxic chemicals and the impact of invasive species.

Scientists and leaders of fishing groups, Indian Tribes and environmental organizations pinpoint the export of massive amounts of water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting steam injection and fracking operations in Kern County as the key factor behind the fishery collapse.

"The 2014 Delta Smelt index is 9, making it the lowest index in FMWT history," wrote Steven Slater, CDFW environmental scientist, in a memo revealing the results of the survey. "Delta Smelt abundance was highest in 1970 and has been consistently low since 2003, except in 2011."

Found only in the upper Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the fish mainly inhabits the freshwater-saltwater mixing zone of the estuary, except during its spawning season when it migrates upstream to freshwater following winter "first flush" flow events from approximately March to May.

Because of its one-year life cycle and relatively low fecundity, the Delta smelt is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its native habitat.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

The 2014 age-0 striped bass index is 59, making it the third lowest index in the survey's history. Age-0 striped bass abundance was highest at the survey's inception in 1967, according to Slater.

The index for longfin smelt, a cousin of the Delta smelt, is 16, making it the second lowest index in history. Longfin smelt abundance was also highest in 1967.

The 2014 threadfin shad index is 282, the sixth lowest in history and the seventh in a series of very low abundance indices. Threadfin shad abundance was highest in 1997, a year of high outflows into San Pablo and San Francisco bays.

"The 2014 American Shad index is 278, which is the second lowest in FMWT history and only slightly higher than the 2008 index of 271," said Slater. "American Shad abundance was highest in 2003."

Delta advocates pointed to mismanagement of Central Valley reservoirs and the Bay Delta Estuary by the state and federal governments as the primary reason for the decline.

"These crashes in fish populations show that the Delta was not managed for fish protection in 2014," responded Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "We know from research that outflows to San Francisco Bay were needed to stop salinity intrusion at the state and federal export pumping facilities."

"Thirty years of overpumping have led to the destruction of our fish species during the current severe drought. The question is whether proposed federal drought relief legislation proposed in Congress is going to even worsen the bad management practices and destroy Bay Delta fisheries in 2014," Barrigan-Parrilla stated.

The surveys were initiated in 1967, the same year the State Water Project began exporting water from the Delta. The surveys show that population indices of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad have declined 95.6%, 99.6%, 99.8%, 97.8%, 90.9%, respectively, between 1967 and 2013, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and Board Member of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).

Both the 2013 and 2014 indices for Sacramento splittail, another native fish found only in the estuary, were not released, but results from 2012 reveal that splittail indices have dropped 98.5% from 1967 levels. In 2011, the Brown administration presided over a record "salvage" of 9 million splittail in 2011, a record year for exports by the federal and state projects.

The release of the survey takes place as Governor Jerry Brown continues to back the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels under the Delta. The plan is based on the premise that taking more water from the Sacramento River above the Delta will "restore" the collapsing estuary.

The $67 billion plan will hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

You can read the full report with graphs at: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHan...

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Statewide Tour Urges Governor Brown to Stop Fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 14:11:55 PM PST

Coalition Calls on California to Move to 100% Renewable Energy  

Governor Jerry Brown has constantly touted his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he enthusiastically supports the expansion of fracking in California and is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

In his Inaugural Address on January 5, as his "green" environmental policies had driven Delta smelt and American River steelhead to the lowest population levels in recorded history, the Governor gushed:

"In fact, we are well on our way to meeting our AB 32 goal of reducing carbon pollution and limiting the emissions of heat-trapping gases to 431 million tons by 2020. But now, it is time to establish our next set of objectives for 2030 and beyond.

Toward that end, I propose three ambitious goals to be accomplished within the next 15 years:
Increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources;
Reduce today's petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent;
Double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner."

While Brown and his staff continue to greenwash the Governor's neo-liberal environmental policies, thousands of Californians will convene over the next week as part of the "California Crossroads Tour" calling on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking, stand up to Big Oil, and "move California beyond fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy," according to a news release from Californians Against Fracking.

By standing up to Big Oil, anti-fracking activists are taking on the most powerful corporate lobby in California, the oil industry. The oil industry's campaign to expand the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California is overseen by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California's heavily-fracked waters.

"California is at a crossroads," said David Braun of Californians Against Fracking and an organizer of the tour. "Our governor and our elected officials need to decide if we're going to be a real leader on climate change, or if we will continue to allow fracking and other dangerous extractions methods that put our communities and environment at risk."

"Californians around the state are affected by the oil industry in different ways-whether they are exposed to dangerous toxins from living near a drilling site, have potentially explosive trains rumbling through their neighborhoods carrying crude oil-but we all stand to lose if we continue to ignore warnings that spell out doom if we don't put an end to the use of fossil fuels," said Braun.

Leaders from Californians Against Fracking are traveling to eight cities over nine days as a part of the California Crossroads Tour, designed as an opportunity for community members and experts to speak out against the negative health and environmental impacts of high-risk oil drilling, wastewater injection into deep disposal wells, and the prospect of a dramatic increase of oil by rail.

The tour kicked off on Monday, January 12, at the King Chavez High School auditorium in San Diego and will stop in Los Angeles, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Delano, San Juan Bautista, and Oakland. It will culminate Jan. 20 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, where residents will deliver messages from communities across the state to Gov. Jerry Brown, organizers said.

"In California, communities facing the threat of fracking are taking actions to protect themselves," according to the coalition. "In 2014, Santa Cruz and Mendocino counties joined the city of Beverly Hills in passing measures to ban fracking and similar oil extraction techniques. San Benito County voters also approved a fracking ban with a 59 percent majority, despite a $2 million opposition campaign by the oil industry."

The City of Los Angeles is considering a ban and two cities in Los Angeles County-La Habra Heights and Hermosa Beach-are slated to vote on fracking and oil projects in March. A livestream of the event at the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles will be available Jan. 13 from 7-9 p.m.

The tour will be followed up by the February 7 "March for Real Climate Leadership" in Oakland that is hosted by a broad group of partner organizations and will bring thousands of people from across the state into the streets of Oakland to "call on Governor Brown to ban fracking, stand up to Big Oil, and move beyond fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy." More information is available at marchforclimateleadership.org.

Californians Against Fracking is a coalition of about 200 environmental business, health, agriculture, labor, political and environmental justice organizations working to win a statewide ban on fracking in California. Follow @CAagainstFrack on Twitter

CONTACT: Juan Gastelum at 310-905-3191, Juan.Gastelum [at] berlinrosen.com
Niketa Kumar at 610-659-2544, Niketa.Kumar [at] berlinrosen.com

Big Oil Money and Power in California

While there are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, no industry has more influence over the state's environmental policies than Big Oil.

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, including record amounts of money spent during the third quarter of 2014, according to a recent report written by Will Barrett, the Senior Policy Analyst for the American Lung Association in California. (http://www.lung.org/associations/states/california/advocacy/climate-change/oil-industy-lobbying-report.pdf)

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009. Chevron was second in lobbying expenses with a total of $15,542,565 spent during the same period.

From July 1 to September 30 alone, the oil industry spent an unprecedented $7.1 million lobbying elected officials in California "with a major focus on getting oil companies out of a major clean air regulation," said Barrett.

And this doesn't include spending on ballot measures or the recent election, including Chevron spending $3 million (unsuccessfully!) to elect "their" candidates to the Richmond City Council. Big Oil also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County.

Not only does Big Oil spend many millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but its representatives also serve on state and federal regulatory panels and fund "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" in Southern California. Not only did she serve on this panel, but she also was a member of the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

These so-called "marine protected areas" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

People need to understand that the millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up "Astroturf" groups promoting the oil industry agenda are small change to Big Oil. The five big oil companies - BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell - made a combined total of $93 billion in profits last year. Big Oil's estimated profits in 2014 were over $96 billion. (http://www.stopfoolingca.org/)  

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Tunnel critics respond to secret settlement as Delta smelt nears extinction

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 07:58:03 AM PST

When you think that things can't get worse in the toxic nightmare that is California water politics, be assured - "Yes, They Can!"

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's rush to build massive Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to the prospect of a secret settlement of the debt Westlands Water District owes to US taxpayers and the near extinction presently of Delta smelt.

Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla stated, "The idea that the Westlands Water District can secretly negotiate a settlement with the Federal Government that secures Westlands' water rights, by circumventing state water rights, and that lets Westlands walk away from hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that they owe to U.S. taxpayers is incomprehensible. Worse, Westlands is not being required to document how they will continue to farm without belching polluted discharge water back into the watershed, or how their farmers will pay for the approximate $2 billion that it will cost to fix their drainage issues."

"American taxpayers should not be on the hook to subsidize water profits for 600 rich farming corporations. Westlands should not be given Federal entitlements to water right seniority over California farmers who were in production decades before Westlands farmers, especially during times of water scarcity, as during this drought. It seems that Westland's extensive lobbying and media efforts are buying the best government available in Washington," she said.

Barrrigan-Parrilla emphasized that this deal is "especially disturbing" considering the recent numbers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fall Midwater Trawl Survey that show that the Delta Smelt population has reached a new record low. (https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentId=92840)

"The smelt, which was once the most abundant fish in the Bay-Delta Estuary, is an indicator species, meaning that it demonstrates the health of the Bay-Delta estuary," continued Barrigan-Parrilla. "The species is nearly extinct; other Bay-Delta fisheries are in rapid decline, and nobody is thinking about the economic damage that will be inflicted on commercial fisheries and their connected economies resulting from the over pumping of the Delta."

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. The population index for striped bass is the third lowest in history, while the index for longfin smelt is the second lowest ever recorded. The population index for threadfin shad is the sixth lowest, while the index for American shad is the second lowest. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/09/1356714/-Delta-smelt-reaches-new-record-low-in-fall-survey)

Barrigan-Parrilla said, "While Westlands continues to push Federal legislation for increased water exports at the pumps during the drought, enhanced water rights through secret negotiations, an unrestricted license to pollute, and their bills paid by American taxpayers, the Delta ecosystem is unraveling.

Westlands leaders will never be satisfied until they have all the water they want, when they want, without any restrictions, despite the economic and environmental consequences for the rest of California. They want the Delta tunnels so they can take as much water from Northern California as quickly as possible, and without the tunnels they want laws passed that simply let them muscle their way to the front of the line, even before the fish, to take all the water they want.

They talk about feeding the world and their economic importance to the nation - which in reality is 0.3% of California's GDP. The truth is that their free hand of the marketplace is in our back pockets grabbing our tax dollars and the future sustainability of the Bay-Delta estuary for California's children."

She concluded, "We call on the Bureau of Reclamation and the Obama Administration to make public the details of these secret negotiations, and to bring all impacted parties to the table to work on California's water challenges "in a manner that supports the enforcement of existing laws."

For more information about the secret settlement, go to: http://bit.ly/1C0aSyW

Again, please remember that when you think it can't get any worse, the state and federal governments have an uncanny ability to find a new, unprecedented low in their mad race to the bottom.

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Tunnel critics respond to secret settlement as Delta smelt nears extinction

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 07:58:03 AM PST

When you think that things can't get worse in the toxic nightmare that is California water politics, be assured - "Yes, They Can!"

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's rush to build massive Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to the prospect of a secret settlement of the debt Westlands Water District owes to US taxpayers and the near extinction presently of Delta smelt.

Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla stated, "The idea that the Westlands Water District can secretly negotiate a settlement with the Federal Government that secures Westlands' water rights, by circumventing state water rights, and that lets Westlands walk away from hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that they owe to U.S. taxpayers is incomprehensible. Worse, Westlands is not being required to document how they will continue to farm without belching polluted discharge water back into the watershed, or how their farmers will pay for the approximate $2 billion that it will cost to fix their drainage issues."

"American taxpayers should not be on the hook to subsidize water profits for 600 rich farming corporations. Westlands should not be given Federal entitlements to water right seniority over California farmers who were in production decades before Westlands farmers, especially during times of water scarcity, as during this drought. It seems that Westland's extensive lobbying and media efforts are buying the best government available in Washington," she said.

Barrrigan-Parrilla emphasized that this deal is "especially disturbing" considering the recent numbers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fall Midwater Trawl Survey that show that the Delta Smelt population has reached a new record low. (https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentId=92840)

"The smelt, which was once the most abundant fish in the Bay-Delta Estuary, is an indicator species, meaning that it demonstrates the health of the Bay-Delta estuary," continued Barrigan-Parrilla. "The species is nearly extinct; other Bay-Delta fisheries are in rapid decline, and nobody is thinking about the economic damage that will be inflicted on commercial fisheries and their connected economies resulting from the over pumping of the Delta."

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. The population index for striped bass is the third lowest in history, while the index for longfin smelt is the second lowest ever recorded. The population index for threadfin shad is the sixth lowest, while the index for American shad is the second lowest. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/09/1356714/-Delta-smelt-reaches-new-record-low-in-fall-survey)

Barrigan-Parrilla said, "While Westlands continues to push Federal legislation for increased water exports at the pumps during the drought, enhanced water rights through secret negotiations, an unrestricted license to pollute, and their bills paid by American taxpayers, the Delta ecosystem is unraveling.

Westlands leaders will never be satisfied until they have all the water they want, when they want, without any restrictions, despite the economic and environmental consequences for the rest of California. They want the Delta tunnels so they can take as much water from Northern California as quickly as possible, and without the tunnels they want laws passed that simply let them muscle their way to the front of the line, even before the fish, to take all the water they want.

They talk about feeding the world and their economic importance to the nation - which in reality is 0.3% of California's GDP. The truth is that their free hand of the marketplace is in our back pockets grabbing our tax dollars and the future sustainability of the Bay-Delta estuary for California's children."

She concluded, "We call on the Bureau of Reclamation and the Obama Administration to make public the details of these secret negotiations, and to bring all impacted parties to the table to work on California's water challenges "in a manner that supports the enforcement of existing laws."

For more information about the secret settlement, go to: http://bit.ly/1C0aSyW

Again, please remember that when you think it can't get any worse, the state and federal governments have an uncanny ability to find a new, unprecedented low in their mad race to the bottom.

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Feinstein delays controversial drought legislation until next year

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Nov 21, 2014 at 09:55:59 AM PST

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced on November 20 that she has abandoned the secret negotiations to craft a controversial drought relief bill this year, but said she will try to pass the legislation next year.

The delay is a victory by a coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and family farmers who organized an action alert campaign over the past week to defeat the bill. They said the bill would amount to a water bailout for corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that would devastate salmon and other fisheries and family farms.

"Over the past several weeks I have been working closely with members of the California delegation who expressed interest in reaching a bipartisan agreement on legislation to address California's drought crisis without violating the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act or biological opinions," said Feinstein in a statement. "Although we have made progress, it has become clear that we will be unable to present an agreed-upon proposal before Congress adjourns this year." (http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=f9d5560e-d0ea-4376-aa34-0a6d2ed0510d)

Patricia Schifferle of Pacific Advocates responded, "She claims she worked with all Members - then why don't the northern California and Delta Members agree with that statement?"

Congresssman George Miller confirmed Schifferle's assessment. "She's doing the bidding of a very small group of people," Rep. George Miller, D-Richmond, told reporter Michael Doyle of McClatch news Thursday, prior to Feinstein's decision becoming public. "This is just money and politics talking." (http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/article4034913.html#storylink=cpy)

Feinstein also claimed that, in spite of much evidence otherwise provided by opponents of the legislation, that this wasn't "some kind of secret process."

"I deeply believe the people want both parties to work together, and that is the only way we will be able to enact water legislation," said Feinstein. "Claims that this has been some kind of secret process are false. In order to come up with a bill that is ready for public comment, back-and-forth negotiations and consultations are often necessary, including extensive technical assistance from federal and state agencies. That process is ongoing and we have no agreed-upon bill at this time."

If Feinstein asked for "technical analysis" then it would be great to share the agency's "technical analysis" with the public, Delta advocates noted.

The Senator also emphasized that there is a "real human face" to the current drought, although she failed to mention the people most impacted by the drought - recreational and commercial fishing families, family farmers, and Indian Tribes that depend on salmon and other fish as part of their religion, culture and existence.

"It is important to remember there is a real human face to this crisis," Feinstein continued. Some communities can no longer deliver water to homes. Thousands of residential wells have run dry. And many families lack very basic necessities like water for showers and cooking."

Then Feinstein claimed that the bill wasn't "about corporate agriculture," failing to explain why heavy hitters from the water community, including Tom Birmingham of the Westlands Water District, Stewart Resnick of Paramount Farms, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Kern County Water Agency, were all at the table of the negotiations while fishermen, Tribes, family farmers, Northern California legislators and Northern California legislators were completely excluded.

"California is in a state of prolonged drought, and we must come together to find ways to provide the water necessary for life and well-being. This isn't about corporate agriculture, this is about California," she said.

Feinstein then took aim at drought bill opponents, concluding, "It's my hope that groups critical of this effort will strive to be productive rather than destructive. It's clear that we need to get more water to our cities, businesses, farmers, households, fish and the Delta. And it's equally important that we continue to protect wildlife and the environment. Only together will we stand a chance of agreeing on a bill that can help accomplish all of these goals."

Bill opponents greeted Feinstein's announcement with relief - and vowed to stop similar legislation gutting fish protection and Delta water standards in the 2015 Congressional Session.

"We would like to thank the Senator for listening to our constituents and we hope that she and Senator Boxer will ensure that all Californians are taken into account during the formulation of legislation in the next Congress," said Tom Stokely, water policy for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).

In a similar vein, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, said, "We are thankful that Senator Dianne Feinstein agreed to use regular bill procedures this time involving public hearings for next year. Thank you to everyone who took action and kept the pressure strong!"

"This bill has been delayed," said Ronald Stork, Senior Policy Director of Friends of the River. "Feinstein said it will be reintroduced and go through the regular order in the new GOP led-Congress instead of being hatched in secret in the back rooms. That's a good thing, but it doesn't matter if California's two Senators are unwilling to stand up to the San Joaquin Valley Congressmen. Somebody has to show some courage."

"The dynamics haven't changed. Feinstein is more than willing to accede to the demands of the Southern San Joaquin Valley Congressmen. Their demands are pretty simple: disrespect the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other peoples' water," concluded Stork.

On November 18, representatives of California's leading grassroots water conservation and environmental water organizations, fishing groups and the Winnemem Wintu and Karuk Tribes signed a letter strongly criticizing the legislation.

"We are disturbed by a resurgence of media reports and the potential movement of a purported 'drought bill' for California," the letter stated. "As we understand it, the draft legislation now being finalized attempts to reconcile provisions from S.2198 and HR.3964," two bills designed to benefit corporate agribusiness at the expense of other water users."

The groups and Tribes expressed concern that there would be "destructive elements" in the reconciled bill that were in past versions of either or both bills. These include the following:

• Water transfers from the Sacramento Valley are expedited circumventing public processes in federal environmental laws.

• Refuges are pushed to turn to groundwater instead of relying on what the Central Valley Improvement Act requires in the way of surface water deliveries.

• Most benefits are for desert agriculture in the southwestern San Joaquin Valley-not California as a whole-and especially not the area of origin where most of the water comes from: the Sacramento River Watershed.

• Permanent, devastating impacts on migratory bird and fish populations in California, Oregon, Washington State and Alaska.

Defenders of the public trust are gearing up for a big battle by Feinstein and the Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representative to pass "drought relief" legislation that serves corporate interests at the expense of fish, wildlife and the people of California during the next Congressional Session.

To read the complete letter, go to this link on the Restore the Delta website: http://restorethedelta.org/blo...

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Goliath Gets Bigger: Prop. 1 War Chest Grows to $16.4 Million

by: Dan Bacher

Sun Nov 02, 2014 at 12:07:54 PM PST

The debate over the pros and cons of Proposition 1, Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, is very important, but an even bigger issue in any environmental battle or process is the money behind the campaign.

The big corporate money behind the water bond largely determines who the bond will benefit - billionaires, corporate agribusiness, oil companies and the 1 percent, not the people, fish or wildlife of California.

Contributions to Governor Jerry Brown's Yes on Props 1 and 2 Committee have jumped to $13,880,528.43, according to the latest data posted on the California Secretary of State's website.

The contributions feature millions of dollars from billionaires, corporate agribusiness, Big Oil and and the tobacco industry - corporate interests that all expect a big return for their "investment" in the corrupt "play to pay" politics that rules California today.

Contributions to the committee from the period from October 1 to October 18 alone amount to $9,537,048.90. (http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?id=1343257&session=2013)

Expenditures during the period from January 1 through October 18 were $10,728,645.50, with $10,149,477.92 just from the period of October 1 to October 18.

But this isn't the only committee funding the Yes on 1 campaign. When you consider the other committees backing Prop.1 listed on the Secretary of State's website, the total amount of contributions jumps by another $2,541,257.91 to $16,421,785.91!

The "California Business Political Action Committee," sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce raised, $550,000 for Yes on 1 and 2 during the period from January 1 to October 18, 2014.

The "Wetlands Conservation Committee, Yes on Prop. 1," sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Audubon California and the Nature Conservancy, raised $215,000 from January 1 through October 18.

Other committees backing Prop. 1 include:

• The "Conservation Action Fund": $818,623.78

• The Sac Valley Water & Rice For Prop. 1: $44,499.00

• Think Long Committee, sponsored by the Nicolas Berggruen Institute Trust, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $250,000

• Western Plant Health Association, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $100,000

• NRDC Action Fund Ballot Measures Committee - Yes on Prop. 1; $9,514.27

• Environmental Coalition for Water and Wildlife Protection - Yes on Prop. 1: $102,000  

• The Southern California District County Laborers PAC: $58,219.02

• The California Water Association Political Issues Committee - Yes on Prop. 1: $100,000

• Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition Issues PAC - Yes on Props 1 and 2: $293,401.84

Background: Oil industry, agribusiness, health care industry and billionaires lead Prop. 1 contributors

While the committees backing Prop. 1 have raised over $16.4 million to date, the Vote No on Prop. 1 campaign, has raised $89,100 and has spent $53,077.(http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_1,_Water_Bond_(2014))

The campaign for and against Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November 4 ballot, remains the classic David and Goliath battle of this election season in California.

Governor Jerry Brown, the Republican and Democratic Party establishment, corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies, construction unions, corporate "environmental" NGOs, prominent billionaires, the health care industry and big water agencies are backing the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. In contrast, a grassroots coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, consumer organizations, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta water agencies is campaigning to defeat Proposition 1.

The top 18 campaign contributors - those who donated $250,000 or more - have raised a total of $11,835,279 to date for the Yes on Prop. 1 and campaign, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). (http://fppc.ca.gov/top10Nov2014/)

Dignity Health, which contributed $250,000, is the latest corporate contributor to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. That donation followed the contribution of $250,000 to the campaign by Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil.

The Bakersfield-based Aera Energy is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company's website. (http://www.aeraenergy.com/who-we-are.asp)

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, have donated a total of $850,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000 and the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of Paramount Farms and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000 and the California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign.

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels - and have made millions off reselling environmental water to the public.

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign to date remains Sean Parker, who has contributed $1 million to the campaign. Parker is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook. He also cofounded Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime.

Four members of the Fisher family, who own the controversial Gap stores, have collectively donated $1.5 million to the Yes. on Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 campaign. They also own the Mendocino Redwood Company and Humboldt Redwood Company, formerly the Pacific Lumber Company (PALCO), more than half a million acres of redwood forest lands in total. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/09/28/18762178.php)

Doris F. Fisher contributed $499,000, John J. Fisher $351,000, Robert J. Fisher $400,000 and William S. Fisher $250,000. The Gap become notorious among labor and human rights advocates for employing sweatshop labor in the Third World to produce its clothes.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris also contributed $100,000 to Governor Brown's ballot measure committee established to support Propositions 1 and 2. On October 20, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) called on the governor to return that money.

In contrast to the $13,212,726 in donations to the Prop. 1 and 2 campaigns listed on the FPPC website, the FPPC states, "No committee opposing this ballot measure raised enough money to reach the reporting threshold."

Folks like Stewart Resnick, the Fisher Family and other billionaires, the oil industry and corporate agribusiness interests aren't dumping millions into the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign for the common good or benefit of all Californians - they're doing it as a relatively small investment to advance their own greedy interests and to further privatize and plunder the public trust for their own personal profit.

Six simple reasons why you should vote no on Prop. 1:

• Prop. 1 will spend $2.7 billion for costly and inefficient dams and bill the public for the expense.

• Prop. 1 would support the Governor's Twin Tunnels project, as indicated by his Stanford speech on October 20. Brown said that Proposition 1 would provide components missing from the State Water Project "enacted by my father." These components, Brown ominously intoned, would "deal with the Delta."

• Prop. 1 violates the public trust. The bond provides hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to purchase water allegedly for public trust purposes, to then divert it from the Delta as "abandoned" water for billionaires' almond orchards.

• Prop. 1 ignores the bedrock realities of California's water dilemma. Consumptive water right claims in California already exceed the amount of available water by 5.5 times. Proposition 1 does nothing to rectify this situation. Indeed, it ignores the one thing that must be done if we're going to stabilize the state's water policies: balance water rights claims to actual water supplies.

• Prop. 1 provides no strategies to mitigate the impacts of drought. The bond is thus a classic bait-and-switch: It implicitly promises drought solutions it does not deliver.

• Prop. 1 underfunds recycling, conservation and other drought solutions that will provide local jobs and reduce reliance on imported water supplies.

For more information, go to http://www.noonprop1.org

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