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Governor Jerry Brown

Brown Administration celebrates "Endangered Species Day" as it hastens species extinction

by: Dan Bacher

Mon May 18, 2015 at 09:02:55 AM PDT

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the same agency that has presided over the collapse of winter run Chinook, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and other endangered and threatened species in recent years, on May 14 issued a press release proclaiming that "May 15 is the 10th National Endangered Species Day."

"The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recognizes the 10th National Endangered Species Day with a focused environmental concern," the Department stated. "The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend to prevent extinction."(https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/may-15-is-the-10th-national-endangered-species-day/)

Pointing out that  there are 133 species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in California, the agency claimed, "CDFW is paying special attention to priority listed species and other sensitive native wildlife that are in areas most severely affected by the drought. Emergency drought funds support projects that transferred water to critical fish and wildlife populations that might not have survived the continuing severe dry conditions without it. Examples of actions taken last year include the flooding of wetland habitats for giant garter snakes in State Wildlife Areas and the relocation of stranded salmon and steelhead."

However, the CDFW failed to mention a number of "inconvenient truths" about its "management" of endangered species in California.

First, it failed to point out that the Brown 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, initiated in 1967, 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, reported Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

Then in April 2015, the Department found only one lonely fish in their Delta smelt survey. (http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_27918392/california-drought-delta-smelt-survey-tallies-one-fish)

Second, the CDFW press release neglected to point out that poor water management by the state of federal governments has led to the lowest recorded return of Central Valley steelhead, a threatened species under the ESA, to the American River this year.

The fish hatchery staff trapped only 143 adult steelhead, including 93 females and 45 males, this season. That compares to a total of 546 adult steelhead, including 527 adults and 19 half pounders, last season. In a good year, 2,000 to 4,000 steelhead would return to the facility. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/06/1369030/-Worst-American-River-steelhead-run-on-record-nears-dismal-end)

Third, the Department didn't mention that under its current leadership, the  winter run Chinook return to the Sacramento River was only 3,015 fish, including 2,688 adults and 327 jacks, in 2014. By contrast, the winter Chinook return was 117,000 in 1969. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/03/26/18770484.php)

Nor did the release noted that 95 percent of the eggs and fry from the 2014 winter Chinook spawn perished in low, warm conditions, the result of poor oversight by the state and federal fishery and water agencies.

Fourth, as the CDFW was celebrating "National Endangered Species Day," it failed to acknowleged the Department's failure to protect another listed species - the giant garter snake - in the Delta.

"The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) states that the purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend to prevent extinction," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD). "However, they are failing to successfully execute that mission with the present construction by the Department of Water Resources of the False River Barrier in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) constructed a 150 foot barrier about two weeks ago to "prevent" the giant garter snake from entering the construction staging area, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.

However, Bradford Island landowner Karen Cunningham documented that the snake would simply go around the entirely too-short snake barrier entering the constructing area as the perimeter of Bradford Island is seven miles, noted Barrigan-Parrilla. Cunningham now reports that she found what appears to be a giant garter snake on the road within twenty feet of the barrier worksite.

She attempted to locate a project biologist on site, but one was not present. Restore the Delta has reported this incident to California Fish and Wildlife's Contra Costa County biologist.

"According to the Center for Biological Diversity website, more than 90 percent of the suitable habitat for giant garter snakes has been eliminated in California's Central Valley, and only 13 isolated populations remain," observed Barrigan-Parrilla. "The cavalier attitude by the Department of Water Resources during the present construction of the drought barrier project for the Delta indicates what would happen to threatened species like the giant garter snake and endangered terrestrial and aquatic species during construction of Governor Brown's massive twin tunnels project."

Fifth, the Department of Fish and Wildlife's proposed "California Eco Restore" plan for the Delta will put 35 additional species in danger of extinction and will fail to restore Bay-Delta fisheries in the future.

Barrigan-Parrilla explained, "With the Brown Administration's newly minted "California Water Fix, the tunnels project would now only require a Section 7 Permit that do away with protections for 35 species including: fall-run Chinook salmon, sandhill cranes, longfin smelt, white sturgeon, swainsons hawk, tri-colored blackbird, western burrowing owls, Pacific and river lamprey, Sacramento splittail, and Western pond turtles. Yet, California Fish and Wildlife is celebrating National Endangered Species Day."

Governor Brown and Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham continue to tell the public that the new pumps that would be part of the tunnels project would "fix" reverse river flows in the Delta, thereby "saving" Delta fisheries, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.

"Modeling results, however, found within their own planning documents show that there would be reverse flows in nearby sloughs and river branches just downstream from the tunnels, and that winter-run and spring-run juvenile Chinook salmon survival rates would be reduced sharply beyond their already dismal survival rate through the Delta," she said.

She said the California Water Fix is "no fix" for endangered and threatened species, as state agencies cannot properly protect species in the present during periods of construction in critical Delta habitats. (http://restorethedelta.org/101-california-water-fix-delta-tunnels-and-california-eco-restore/)

"California water and fishery agencies have failed to enforce laws to protect fisheries at the pumps over the last 30 years. Yet, the Brown administration continues to deliver false assurances regarding species protections with his tunnels project. It is time for Governor Brown to stop selling a project to Californians that will sacrifice Delta species and communities for the big agribusiness growers he favors on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley," she concluded.

You just can't make this stuff up - a government agency like the California Department of Fish and Wildlife "celebrating" National Endangered Species Day when it appears to be doing everything it can to benefit agribusiness and other corporate interests at the expense of endangered species, along with a host of fish and wildlife species not formally listed under the federal and state Endangered Species Acts!  

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Brown Administration celebrates "Endangered Species Day" as it hastens species extinction

by: Dan Bacher

Mon May 18, 2015 at 09:02:51 AM PDT

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the same agency that has presided over the collapse of winter run Chinook, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and other endangered and threatened species in recent years, on May 14 issued a press release proclaiming that "May 15 is the 10th National Endangered Species Day."

"The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recognizes the 10th National Endangered Species Day with a focused environmental concern," the Department stated. "The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend to prevent extinction."(https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/may-15-is-the-10th-national-endangered-species-day/)

Pointing out that  there are 133 species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in California, the agency claimed, "CDFW is paying special attention to priority listed species and other sensitive native wildlife that are in areas most severely affected by the drought. Emergency drought funds support projects that transferred water to critical fish and wildlife populations that might not have survived the continuing severe dry conditions without it. Examples of actions taken last year include the flooding of wetland habitats for giant garter snakes in State Wildlife Areas and the relocation of stranded salmon and steelhead."

However, the CDFW failed to mention a number of "inconvenient truths" about its "management" of endangered species in California.

First, it failed to point out that the Brown 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, initiated in 1967, 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, reported Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

Then in April 2015, the Department found only one lonely fish in their Delta smelt survey. (http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_27918392/california-drought-delta-smelt-survey-tallies-one-fish)

Second, the CDFW press release neglected to point out that poor water management by the state of federal governments has led to the lowest recorded return of Central Valley steelhead, a threatened species under the ESA, to the American River this year.

The fish hatchery staff trapped only 143 adult steelhead, including 93 females and 45 males, this season. That compares to a total of 546 adult steelhead, including 527 adults and 19 half pounders, last season. In a good year, 2,000 to 4,000 steelhead would return to the facility. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/06/1369030/-Worst-American-River-steelhead-run-on-record-nears-dismal-end)

Third, the Department didn't mention that under its current leadership, the  winter run Chinook return to the Sacramento River was only 3,015 fish, including 2,688 adults and 327 jacks, in 2014. By contrast, the winter Chinook return was 117,000 in 1969. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/03/26/18770484.php)

Nor did the release noted that 95 percent of the eggs and fry from the 2014 winter Chinook spawn perished in low, warm conditions, the result of poor oversight by the state and federal fishery and water agencies.

Fourth, as the CDFW was celebrating "National Endangered Species Day," it failed to acknowleged the Department's failure to protect another listed species - the giant garter snake - in the Delta.

"The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) states that the purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend to prevent extinction," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD). "However, they are failing to successfully execute that mission with the present construction by the Department of Water Resources of the False River Barrier in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) constructed a 150 foot barrier about two weeks ago to "prevent" the giant garter snake from entering the construction staging area, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.

However, Bradford Island landowner Karen Cunningham documented that the snake would simply go around the entirely too-short snake barrier entering the constructing area as the perimeter of Bradford Island is seven miles, noted Barrigan-Parrilla. Cunningham now reports that she found what appears to be a giant garter snake on the road within twenty feet of the barrier worksite.

She attempted to locate a project biologist on site, but one was not present. Restore the Delta has reported this incident to California Fish and Wildlife's Contra Costa County biologist.

"According to the Center for Biological Diversity website, more than 90 percent of the suitable habitat for giant garter snakes has been eliminated in California's Central Valley, and only 13 isolated populations remain," observed Barrigan-Parrilla. "The cavalier attitude by the Department of Water Resources during the present construction of the drought barrier project for the Delta indicates what would happen to threatened species like the giant garter snake and endangered terrestrial and aquatic species during construction of Governor Brown's massive twin tunnels project."

Fifth, the Department of Fish and Wildlife's proposed "California Eco Restore" plan for the Delta will put 35 additional species in danger of extinction and will fail to restore Bay-Delta fisheries in the future.

Barrigan-Parrilla explained, "With the Brown Administration's newly minted "California Water Fix, the tunnels project would now only require a Section 7 Permit that do away with protections for 35 species including: fall-run Chinook salmon, sandhill cranes, longfin smelt, white sturgeon, swainsons hawk, tri-colored blackbird, western burrowing owls, Pacific and river lamprey, Sacramento splittail, and Western pond turtles. Yet, California Fish and Wildlife is celebrating National Endangered Species Day."

Governor Brown and Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham continue to tell the public that the new pumps that would be part of the tunnels project would "fix" reverse river flows in the Delta, thereby "saving" Delta fisheries, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.

"Modeling results, however, found within their own planning documents show that there would be reverse flows in nearby sloughs and river branches just downstream from the tunnels, and that winter-run and spring-run juvenile Chinook salmon survival rates would be reduced sharply beyond their already dismal survival rate through the Delta," she said.

She said the California Water Fix is "no fix" for endangered and threatened species, as state agencies cannot properly protect species in the present during periods of construction in critical Delta habitats. (http://restorethedelta.org/101-california-water-fix-delta-tunnels-and-california-eco-restore/)

"California water and fishery agencies have failed to enforce laws to protect fisheries at the pumps over the last 30 years. Yet, the Brown administration continues to deliver false assurances regarding species protections with his tunnels project. It is time for Governor Brown to stop selling a project to Californians that will sacrifice Delta species and communities for the big agribusiness growers he favors on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley," she concluded.

You just can't make this stuff up - a government agency like the California Department of Fish and Wildlife "celebrating" National Endangered Species Day when it appears to be doing everything it can to benefit agribusiness and other corporate interests at the expense of endangered species, along with a host of fish and wildlife species not formally listed under the federal and state Endangered Species Acts!  

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Governor Jerry Brown tells Delta tunnels critics to "Shut Up"

by: Dan Bacher

Thu May 07, 2015 at 15:59:56 PM PDT

In a moment of candor during a speech he gave at the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) conference in Sacramento on May 6, Governor Jerry Brown told critics of his plan to build the twin tunnels to "shut up" unless they have spent a million hours working on the project like the state has.

Brown told the crowd, "I asked my water man sitting over there how many man and woman hours have gone into the Delta Project? Would you tell them? One million!"

"Until you've put a million hours into it, Shut Up!" said Brown, referring to critics of his tunnels and Delta policies.

He added that even that if the staff had "wasted" 25 percent of their time, 250,000 hours, working on the project, that would still be 750,000 hours they spent on the project.

"Let's assume they wasted a quarter of the time," Brown noted. "It's still 750,000 man hours. That's a lot of stuff...so it is complicated. On this subject we do want to be thoughtful and see what's going on here. We don't have to do it just to have something to do."

"We're happy doing this Delta project because for 50 years people have been trying to figure out how to deal with the fish, how to deal with conveyance of water (and) what's the most efficient way to do it that protects all the different interests that we got to think about," he stated.

And those weren't the only controversial things that Brown said in his rambling speech. Reverting from "Big Ag Brown" to "Governor Moonbeam" briefly, Brown talked about us being on "Spaceship Earth," how the astronauts recycled their urine and how "everything goes somewhere."

And he had the gall to spout this eco-babble while his administration has pursued some of the worst policies for fish, water and the environment in recent California history! (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/30452-the-extinction-governor-rips-the-green-mask-off-his-tunnels-plan)

To watch the video of the speech by Gene Beley of the Central Valley Business Times, go to: http://www.centralvalleybusine... or https://player.vimeo.com/video...

In response to the Governor's "Shut Up" comment, Tom Stokely, Water Policy Analyst for the California Water Policy Network (C-WIN),  said, "Money and time spent on a deeply flawed project is still a useless exercise and a waste of ratepayer and taxpayer money."  

"They've spent $240 million and have nothing to show for it other than a pile of documents 27 feet high," he stated. "The revised Bay-Delta Conservation Plan is an act of desperation to try and save a doomed project."

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta (RTD), vowed, "We won't go away. We won't shut up. We can't stand by and watch this project move forward because it will destroy the most important estuary on the West Coast of the Americas."

She said that the Governor "has his fingers in his ears" and won't listen to criticism.  

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said, "A million hours is not enough obviously to know what's good for the Delta because those million hours must not have included the path to extinction of the Delta smelt and salmon. These fish are so necesssary to the Delta - there won't be a Delta without the smelt and salmon. The smelt and salmon have been here for over six thousand years.

"If people want to survive, they can't trust the Governor and staff, who have only spent a million hours on this project," Chief Sisk said. "The Delta has been dying since they've been doing what they've been doing - and they don't even know that it's dying."

During his speech, Brown quoted Edward O. Wilson, a preeminent biologist and naturalist, as he did before during his inaugural address this January:

"Surely one moral precept we can agree on is to stop destroying our birthplace, the only home humanity will ever have. The evidence for climate warming, with industrial pollution as the principal cause, is now overwhelming. Also evident upon even casual inspection is the rapid disappearance of tropical forests and grasslands and other habitats where most of the diversity of life exists. We are needlessly turning the gold we inherited from our forebears into straw, and for that we will be despised by our descendants."

Osha Meserve, an attorney for Delta agricultural and environmental interests, pointed out the irony of Brown proclaiming "small is beautiful" and quoting from a notable biologist about the need to preserve California and the planet for future generations while promoting an environmentally destructive project like the Delta tunnels.

"Rerouting the Sacramento River into massive tunnels is an outdated nineteenth century approach to water supply that will destroy the largest estuary on the west coast," said Meserve. "We have an obligation to future generations to come up with more effective, long-term solutions using state of the art science to meet our State's water needs."

Governor Brown continues to fast track his multi-billion dollar project to build the twin tunnels under the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta to export massive amounts of water to Stewart Resnick, owner of Paramount Farms, and other corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.

On April 30 at a press conference in Oakland, Governor Brown and federal officials unveiled their revised plans for Delta conveyance and ecosystem "restoration."

One major difference between the previous version of the BDCP and the latest incarnation is that it now calls for only "restoring" 30,000 acres for wetland and wildlife habitat - down from the 100,000 acres originally proposed.

The other key difference is that the BDCP has been split into two components - The "California Water Fix" component for the tunnels and the "California Eco Restore" component for the habitat "restoration" component.

"We've listened to the public and carefully studied the science," Brown claimed at the press conference, echoing his comments that he made regarding the tunnels plan at a news conference in Sacramento in July 2012.

However, as the Governor's call for tunnels critics to "Shut Up" demonstrated, Brown neither listened to the public nor carefully studied the science. Every group of scientists that has reviewed the plan, ranging from the Delta Independent Science Board to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, has slammed the terminally flawed "science" behind the tunnels.

There is no doubt that the tunnels will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species, as well as threatening the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

While the Brown administration has mandated that urban families slash their water usage by 25 percent, California almond growers have expanded their almond acreage from 870,000 acres to 1,020,000 acres during the current drought. That's a 150,000 acre increase in acreage for almonds, a water-intensive crop, since the drought began. (http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/California/Publications/Fruits_and_Nuts/201504almac.pdf)  

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Almond acreage goes up 150,000 acres during record drought!

by: Dan Bacher

Thu May 07, 2015 at 15:52:42 PM PDT

California growers continue to expand their almond acreage in the state during the current drought while the Brown administration has mandated that urban families slash their water usage by 25 percent.

California's 2014 almond acreage is estimated at 1,020,000 acres, up 50,000 acres from the 2013 acreage of 970,000, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. That is an increase of 5 percent in one year (http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/California/Publications/Fruits_and_Nuts/201504almac.pdf)

At the beginning of our current drought, almond acreage was 870,000 acres, reported the "On the Public Record" blog. (http://onthepublicrecord.org)

When you subtract the 870,000 acres from 1,020,000 acres, you get an increase of 150,000 acres - again, all during a record drought.

Of the total acreage for 2014, 870,000 acres were bearing and 150,000 acres were nonbearing, the Service reported. The preliminary bearing acreage for 2015 is estimated at 890,000 acres, according to the service.

The survey also revealed that Nonpareil continued to be the leading variety of almonds, followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel and Padre.

Kern, Fresno, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera were the leading counties These five counties had 73 percent of the total bearing acreage, the Service reported.

So how would the amount of increased almond acreage translate into increased water usage during the current drought?

Using a number of 3.5 AF of water per acre of almonds at ULTIMATE demand with mature trees, the new acreage of 150,000 acres X 3.5 af/Acre = 525,000 AF of water ultimate demand. In other words, over 500,000 acre feet, or half of Folsom Lake when full, would be necessary to irrigate the new almond acreage once the trees become mature!

This new almond acreage when mature will also use more water than the average annual yield of all the proposed CALFED storage projects put together, according to Steve Evans, Wild Rivers Consultant. The PPIC estimates the CALFED projects will have a combined average annual yield of 410,000 AF.

Representatives of fishing groups, environmental groups and Indian Tribes have criticized the expansion of water acreage for almonds, a water intensive crop, at a time when salmon, Delta smelt and other fish populations are imperiled by poor water management by the state and federal governments - and when urban users are now mandated to cut back on water use by 25 percent.

"It's a good thing for urban users to conserve water, but since agriculture uses 80 percent of water, the Governor's emergency drought declaration missed the mark by not including agriculture," said Tom Stokely, Water Policy Analyst for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) "A lot of people feel their efforts to conserve water are so that a wealthy almond farmer can plant more trees and make greater profit. These statistics on increased almond plantings actually PROVE that we are conserving water in urban areas so that more almonds can be planted."

In response to those who argue that if the acreage wasn't planted with almonds, it would be planted with cotton or other crops, Stokely noted, "Cotton is not a permanent crop and you can fallow it any year. You cannot fallow permanent crops like almonds and pistachios."

"It's inexcusable to increase the demand for California water by 500,000 AF in the midst of a historic drought," Stokely emphasized.

As urban users are mandated to slash their water use, Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick, owner of Paramount Farms and the largest tree fruit grower in the world, revealed his current efforts to expand pistachio, almond and walnut acreage during a record drought at this year's annual pistachio conference hosted by Paramount Farms. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/04/22/well-connected-billionaire-expands-almond-acreage-as-cities-forced-to-slash-water-use)

During the event covered by the Western Farm Press, Resnick bragged about the increase in his nut acreage over the past ten years, including an 118 percent increase for pistachios, 47 percent increase for almonds and 30 percent increase for walnuts.

For more information about the California Water Impact Network, go to: http://www.c-win.org  

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Tunnel Opponents Blast Governor's Revised Bay Delta Conservation Plan

by: Dan Bacher

Sat May 02, 2015 at 11:36:50 AM PDT

At a press conference in Oakland on April 30, Governor Jerry Brown and federal officials unveiled controversial plans that they claim "accelerate restoration of the Delta's ecosystem" and "fix the state's aging water infrastructure" by building two massive underground tunnels.

Environmental groups and Delta advocates responded that the updated Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is nothing more than a "slightly revised" water grab for corporate agribusiness interests - and is "more unfair than ever" for the majority of Californians during the record drought.

One of the key differences between the previous version of the BDCP and the latest incarnation is that it now calls for only "restoring" 30,000 acres for wetland and wildlife habitat - down from the 100,000 acres originally proposed.

The other major difference is that the BDCP has been split into two components - The "California Water Fix" component for the tunnels and the "California Eco Restore" component for the habitat "restoration" component.

"We can't just cross our fingers, hoping for the best in the Delta," said Governor Brown in touting the revised plan. "Fish populations are at an all-time low. Bold action is imperative."

"We've listened to the public and carefully studied the science," echoing his comments that he made regarding the tunnels plan at a press conference in Sacramento in July 2012.  

"This revised plan is the absolute best path forward," stated Brown, without offering evidence how this plan compared to other more comprehensive solutions to California's water supply and ecosystem restoration problems, most notably the Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan that sets a cap of 3 million acre feet per year on water exports from the Delta.

Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor claimed, "The State, through Governor Brown's leadership, has been a strong partner working with us to improve California's water infrastructure while restoring the Delta. The plan announced today, which has been greatly improved in response to public input, will secure California's water future and a healthier, sustainable Bay-Delta ecosystem."

The Governor claimed the revised plan "substantially improves the health of California's fisheries, increases water reliability and addresses the uncertainty of climate change."

The Governor's Office released a brightly colored 8-page "fact sheet" that summarizes the changes in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan:  http://gov.ca.gov/docs/Delta_F...

Revised plan is "Ecocide" for the Delta  

Critics of the tunnels slammed the revised tunnel plan for a number of severe flaws after reviewing the released documents. Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and Board Member of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and Restore the Delta, summed up the reactions of many to the revised plan when he said, "The Water Fix and Eco Restore‬ are Ecocide for the Delta."  

Adam Scow, the California Director of Food & Water Watch, said the revised tunnels plan remains a scheme to provide subsidized water for "Big Agriculture" that has expanded its acreage during the drought while urban water users are asked to cut their water usage by 25 percent and more.

"Governor Brown's plan to build massive tunnels to divert the Sacramento River away from the San Francisco Bay Delta - estimated to cost as much as $67 billion - has always primarily been a scheme to send massive amounts of water to corporate agribusinesses on the west side of the Central Valley," said Scow. "These powerful agribusinesses, including Stewart Resnick's Paramount Farms and growers in the Westlands Water District, have planted excessive amounts of water-thirsty almonds and pistachios, most of which are exported overseas and need massive amounts of water to succeed in the hot and dry climate of the west side."  

"The Governor has slightly repackaged his euphemistically named Bay Delta Conservation Plan, because the tunnels plan will likely not meet federal water quality standards in the Bay Delta, but the fundamental problem with the project remains: it is grossly unfair for the Governor to make California taxpayers and water ratepayers subsidize a massive project that only benefits a handful of California's most powerful agribusinesses," he stated.

"Forcing taxpayers to subsidize agribusiness is especially wrong now that the Governor has demanded all Californians reduce their own water use or face substantial fines. In addition, removing fresh water from the Bay Delta via tunnels will only worsen conditions for California's threatened wild salmon," said Scow.

Scow urged the Governor to impose limits on the amount of water that is used by agribusiness interests on the San Joaquin Valley's west side.

"Instead of pushing this outdated tunnels project, the Governor should limit agricultural irrigation on the west side and stop sending enormous amounts of public water to agriculture tycoons at the expense of California taxpayers and the fragile ecosystem and fish populations supported by the San Francisco Bay Delta," concluded Scow.

Tunnel plan violates statutory goals and end runs scientists

Restore the Delta (RTD) responded to Gov. Brown's "abandonment of habitat restoration" in his tunnels scheme by saying the new plan violates the statutory co-equal goals and "end-runs" the EPA and federal scientists who refused to issue permits for the project.  

Governor Brown has called the massive change "technical," but RTD and other opponents said it results from "fatal flaws" in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and the lack of funding for the restoration formerly proposed under the BDCP.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director, said the new plan ignores the judgment of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Delta Independent Science Board (DISB), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after scientific reviews that the tunnels project didn't meet minimum Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) standards.  

The agencies found that the project would "jeopardize," rather than help recover key species, and violate anti-degradation laws to protect the Delta waterways as "fishable, swimmable and drinkable," according to Barrigan-Parrilla.

RTD said the change also results from the failure of the BDCP to identify the required funding to meet the financial assurances provisions of the ESA, RTD noted. The BDCP relied heavily on future unidentified state bonds and state and federal budget allocations.  

New document reveals Prop. 1 funds will pay for tunnels mitigation  

During the Prop. 1 campaign in fall 2014, Governor Brown  constantly claimed that Prop. 1 was "tunnels neutral." However, that contention was simply untrue, as the revised plan released on Thursday revealed.

Barrigan-Parrilla pointed out, "Though a key promise made to pass the 2014 Water Bond was that it would not fund the BDCP, the administration has now indicated it does intend to take Prop. 1 funds for restoration to attempt to address the damage from over pumping the Delta, which the tunnels would compound."

The 12-page document confirms the contention of Barrigan-Parrilla and other tunnel opponents that the water bond will fund "restoration" to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the tunnels.

Page 1 of the fact sheet reveals that 1,000+acres out of the more than 30,000 acres of "Delta Habitat Restoration and Protection" will be funded by Prop. 1 and Pro. 1E.

The fact sheet states, "Various aquatic, riparian, and upland restoration and multi-benefit flood management projects will be supported by Proposition 1 & 1E."

Osha Meserve, an attorney for Delta agricultural and environmental interests, also noted, "28,000 acres out of the total 30,000 acres of habitat now proposed under EcoRestore is already required of the state and federal projects by the 2009 Biops (biological opinions) to mitigate impacts of operating their existing diversions in the south Delta. The water exporters appear to be using the so-called 'EcoRestore' project to reduce their current financial obligations and instead foist that cost onto the public." (https://s3.amazonaws.com/californiawater/pdfs/ECO_FS_Overview.pdf)

Bob Wright, senior counsel for Friends of the River, slammed the revised Bay Delta Conservation Plan also, saying that the new plan is even worse for people and the environment than previous one was.

"After 9 years and $250 million dollars, creating a stack of planning documents over 27 feet tall, the governor has admitted that the BDCP could not protect Delta species and therefore could not meet HCP and NCCP standards," said Wright.  "The BDCP, a plan that conserved little and would cost ratepayers and taxpayers over 25 nillion dollars to subsidize giant unsustainable agribusiness, is now even worse for the people, the environment, and sustainable water policies."

Tunnel fiasco part of a larger pattern  

The 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 administration in California history. This is a huge story that the mainstream media and much of the alternative media have failed to cover. ( http://www.truth-out.org/speak... )  

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said last September that the water bond, peripheral tunnels, Shasta Dam raise and other water projects now being planned by the state and federal governments are in in reality "one Big Project" that will destroy salmon, rivers and groundwater supplies. ( http://www.truth-out.org/speak... )  

"It does not make sense that people are separating the water puzzle into individual pieces, such as: the raising of Shasta Dam, Proposition 1, the Delta tunnels, BDCP, Sites Reservoir, Temperance Flat, CALFED, Delta Vision, BDCP, OCAP, the Bay Delta, Trinity/Klamath Rivers, the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, and water rights," said Chief Sisk. "It is all one BIG Project."  

Meanwhile, the mainstream media continues to portray Brown as a "climate leader" and "green energy" guru when in fact he is a strong proponent of neoliberal carbon trading policies and the expansion of the environmentally devastating practice of fracking in California. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04... )  

 

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Why Brown broke Prop. 1 campaign promise: Big Money Interests Dumped $21.8 Million into campaign

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 10:01:23 AM PDT

The recent admission by the Brown administration that it could use money from Proposition 1, the water bond, to pay for "habitat mitigation" linked to the construction and operation of the massive Delta tunnels is no surprise, especially when you consider the Big Money interests that dumped $21,820,691 into the campaign.

The contributors are a who's who of Big Money interests in California, including corporate agribusiness groups, billionaires, timber barons, Big Oil, the tobacco industry and the California Chamber of Commerce. There is no doubt that these wealthy corporate interests are expecting a big return for their "investment" in the corrupt "play to pay" politics that rules California today, including the construction of the twin tunnels and new dams.

Richard Stapler, spokesman for the California Department of Natural Resources, "acknowledged that the money [for delta habitat restoration] could conceivably come from Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond that California passed last year," according to Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle.(http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Activists-decry-plan-to-cut-habitat-aid-from-6212404.php)

Delta advocates slammed Governor Brown for breaking his campaign promise that bond money wouldn't be used to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the tunnels, a $67 billion project designed to export Sacramento River water to agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.

"It is outrageous that the governor would break the promise he made to the people of California that their taxes would not be used to mitigate damage from the tunnels," said Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. "Now he is signaling that bond monies will support mega-growers like Stewart Resnick, who plans to expand almond production by 50 percent over the next five years." (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/04/23/is-jerry-brown-breaking-his-prop-1-campaign-promise)

And guess who was one of the contributors to the Prop. 1 campaign? Yes, Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of Paramount Farms and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000.

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.

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, contributed $850,000 to the campaign, including the $150,000 donated by Resnick.

The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000, the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000 and California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000.

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign was Sean Parker, who 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, 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.

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.

In a major conflict of interest, Robert Fisher profits by logging North Coast forests while he serves as co-chair of a little-known cabinet-level body in Sacramento called the "California Strategic Growth Council (SGC)," according to reporter Will Parrish in the East Bay Express. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-lumber-man-in-charge-of-climate-policy/Content?oid=4191938)

"Enacted by the state legislature in 2008, the SGC is a cornerstone of Governor Jerry Brown's efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions," Parrish wrote. "The panel has the broad and unprecedented mandate of coordinating implementation of California's climate change prescriptions across all levels of state government, while also preparing the state to accommodate a projected population of 50 million by the year 2050."

"As such, Robert Fisher, whose close relationship with Brown is well-known within the corridors of the state Capitol, is not only in charge of helping set California climate change policy, but he also profits handsomely from harvesting living species that are increasingly being recognized as one of our last best hopes for forestalling the catastrophic impacts of global warming," said Parrish.

Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, contributed $250,000 to the Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

Aera Energy LLC 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)

Tobacco giant Philip Morris also donated $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.

A total of eleven ballot measure campaign committees registered in support Proposition 1 and 2, according to Ballotpedia (http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_1,_Water_Bond_(2014))

The committees and money raised are below:
• California Business Political Action Committee, Sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce: $1,169,500
• Wetlands Conservation Committee, Sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Audubon California and The Nature Conservancy, Yes on Prop. 1: $265,000
• Conservation Action Fund - Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 - Sponsored by Conservation Organizations: $1,042,526
• Sac. Valley Water & Rice for Prop 1: $72,356
• Brown; Yes on Props 1 and 2 A Bipartisan Coalition of Business, Labor, Republicans, Democrats and Governor: $17,690,658
• Think Long Committee, Inc., Sponsored by Nicolas Berggruen Institute Trust, Supporting Propositions 1 & 2 (Non-Profit 501(C)(4)): $250,000
• Western Plant Health Association, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2 (Non-Profit 501 (C) (6)): $100,000
• NRDC Action Fund California Ballot Measures Committee - Yes on Prop. 1: $12,653
• Southern California District Council of Laborers Issues PAC: $203,662
• Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coaltion Issues PAC - Yes on Props 1 and 2: $842,896
• The California Conservation Campaign: $171,440

These committees raised a total of $21,820,691 and spent a total of $19,538,153.

In contrast, Proposition 1 opponents raised only $101,149 and spent $86,347 during the campaign. To put that in perspective, note that just one big grower, Stewart Resnick, contributed $150,000 to the Prop. 1 campaign, more than all of the opponents combined. And Resnick wasn't even one of the top 23 donors, with Sean Parker being the largest individual donor at $1,000,000!

Top 23 Contributors to Prop. 1 and 2 Campaign

Brown for Governor 2014 $5,196,529
Sean Parker $1,000,000
L. John Doerr $875,000
California Alliance for Jobs - Rebuild California Committee $533,750
The Nature Conservancy $518,624
California Hospitals Committee $500,000
Doris F. Fisher $499,000
Health Net $445,600
Robert Fisher $400,000
351,000 $351,000
Area Energy LLC $250,000
California American Council of Engineering Companies $250,000
California Farm Bureau Federation $250,000
California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems $250,000
Dignity Health $250,000
Kaiser Permamente $250,000
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Issues PAC $250,000
Reed Hastings $250,000
SW Regional Council Of Carpenters $250,000
Think Long Committee, Inc. $250,000
Western Growers Service Corporation $250,000
William Fisher $250,000  

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Senator McGuire introduces legislation to forever ban CA offshore oil drilling

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 18:32:11 PM PDT

At an Earth Day press conference at the State Capitol, Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) announced the introduction of legislation, Senate Bill 788, to forever protect the coast of California from new offshore oil development in state waters.

McGuire appeared with other legislators and representatives of a broad coalition of fishing and environmental groups that are supporting the measure. Three Indian Tribes   - the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Sherwood Band of Pomo Indians and the Smith River Rancheria - are backing the legislation. Two representatives of the United Native Americans organization also stood with a banner at the event in support of the legislation.

He said this bill "will protect our pristine beaches and benefit our coastal and state economy from what be the devastating impacts of an offshore oil bill."

Surrounding McGuire and other speakers were dramatic photos of the birds harmed by the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969. The oil spill directly spurred the creation of Earth Day in 1970, first in the United States and then in countries throughout the world.

"We have to close the loophole in state law that could allow for new offshore oil development," Senator McGuire said. "After all of the work that we have done to protect our coast and our environment, it's unconscionable to think that there is a loophole that could lead to additional drilling in state water. It poses too great a risk."

Senator McGuire introduced SB 788 - The Coastal Protection Act - to close that loophole and "forever protect California's coast."

"A year after the terrible oil spill in Santa Barbara, locals got together and held the first-ever Earth Day," McGuire told the crowd at the Capitol. "Every year since then, for 45 years now, we have celebrated these efforts to protect our environment from the devastating impacts a sizeable oil spill off our coast would have on our natural resources, our ocean and our coastal dependent economies."

California has the world's eighth largest economy and coastal communities contribute $40 billion annually to the state's economy, and provide nearly half a million important jobs.

Commercial fisheries in the state are valued at more than $7 billion annually, while recreational fishing is valued at over $2 billion annually along California's coast, according to Tim Sloane, the Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and others who spoke at the event. Ocean dependent tourism is valued at over $10 billion annually.  

The California Coastal Sanctuary Act, passed in 1994, contains a loophole from the offshore extraction prohibition, Public Resources Code 6244, by allowing new oil leases if the "State Lands Commission determines that oil and gas deposits contained in tidelands are being drained by means of wells upon adjacent federal lands and leasing of the tidelands for oil or gas production is in the best interest of the State."

SB 788 would eliminate this loophole by repealing PRC 6244 to ensure that the Coastal Sanctuary Act and Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) are able to provide their intended protections for our coastal resources and prevent additional offshore oil extraction.

For over a decade, fishing groups, Indian Tribes and grassroots environmentalists  criticized the implementation phase of the Marine Life Protection Act, the MLPA Initiative, for failing to protect the ocean from offshore oil drilling, fracking, pollution, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing gathering.    

Edward Moreno, Policy Advocate with Sierra Club California, recalled the tremendous damage to California fish and wildlife caused by the 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara.

"More than 45 years ago, California witnessed just how dangerous and damaging offshore oil drilling can be," said Moreno. "A massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara shocked the nation and launched the modern environmental movement. It spurred the passage of some of the most important federal and state laws designed to protect our air and water quality, wildlife, and natural heritage."

However, over the years, oil industry interests have managed to carve out an exception in the California Coastal Sanctuary Act of 1994, Moreno noted.

"SB 788 will undo the effects of the oil industry's lobbying," said Moreno. "It will help make sure that no part of California's coastline is open to new oil drilling."

Rachel Binah, Environmental Caucus Chair, Emerita (California Democratic Party), said how the slogan for the campaign to ban offshore oil drilling off California was "Save the Kansas coast."

"Our coast belongs to all Americans, not just Californians," she explained.

She concluded, "This has been a long struggle. Elected officials all over the state of California know that protection for our coast and ocean is supported by all Californians, no matter their political party. Now, thanks to Senator McGuire, the next step is being taken."

SB 788 has broad support from legislators, fishing groups, Indian Tribes and environmental groups. The principal coauthors are Senators Jackson and Leno and Assemblymember Levine. Coauthors are Senators Allen, Hancock, and Wolk and Assemblymembers Dodd, Wood, Mark Stone, and Williams.

Organizations backing SB 788 include: the California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Coastal Protection Network, California League of Conservation Voters, California Sea Urchin Commission, California Sport Fishing League, California Trout, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, Coast Seafoods Company, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment California, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Environmental Defense Fund, Fishing Vessel Corregidor, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Heal the Bay, Hog Island Oyster Company, Humboldt Baykeeper, Kayak Zak's, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Mad River Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Outfall Group, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center, Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Sierra Club California, Smith River Rancheria, Surfrider Foundation, The Northcoast Environmental Center, The Wildlands Conservancy, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Native Americans and West Marin Environmental Action Committee.

You can expect the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the oil companies to fiercely oppose SB 788, just as they did a previous bill addressing the oil industry loophole last year.  

Tupper Hull, a spokesman for WSPA, told the Daily Breeze the bill "is a poor solution" to protect the state's coast and combat oil operations.(http://www.dailybreeze.com/business/20150320/buoyed-by-local-victories-over-big-oil-environmental-activists-gird-for-a-bigger-prize)

"I've heard this proposal in at least two other legislative sessions," said Hull. "There seems to be an abundance of organizations with very strong opinions about energy production in California. What they never seem willing to confront is the fact that we are the third largest gas and diesel consumer in the world. The only political jurisdictions that use more oil and gas are China and the U.S. as a whole. We're an enormous market for the products."

In an egregious conflict of interest, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the lead lobbyist for fracking and offshore drilling in California, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the Southern California coast. She also served on the panels to create "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast from 2004 to 2012.

The WSPA is the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California. The WSPA set a new spending record, $8.9 million, lobbying state officials in 2014, nearly double what it spent in the previous year. WSPA spent $4.67 million in 2013. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/02/06/big-oil-group-spent-89-million-last-year-lobbing-jerry-brown-and-california-officials)

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and truthout.org reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian." (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/19/calif-finds-more-instances-of-offshore-fracking/3045721/)  

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Brown holds another closed door drought meeting excluding Tribes, fishermen

by: Dan Bacher

Sat Apr 18, 2015 at 19:45:37 PM PDT

After convening agribusiness, urban water agency and corporate "environmental" NGO leaders to discuss the drought last week, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. held another closed door meeting in Sacramento on April 16.

A media advisory from the Governor's Office said Brown would "gather" with representatives from the landscape, golf, home and garden, spa and pool, cemetery and mortuary, building and manufacturing, retail, restaurant and hospitality industries in Sacramento today to discuss the business community's efforts to conserve water.

As usual, Brown did not invite representatives of Indian Tribes, fishing groups, grass roots environmental organizations or Delta communities to the "gathering."

"The key challenge here - aside from getting the water - is to be able to collaborate together," said Governor Brown at last week's meeting. "We're going to rise to the occasion as Californians first and as members of different groups second."

As was the case in last week's meeting, only the final few minutes of the meeting, including time for questions, were open to coverage by "credentialed media"  (he doesn't want any authentic, independent media there!) at approximately 3:00 p.m.

According to the advisory:

"Earlier this month, Governor Brown announced the first ever 25 percent statewide mandatory water reductions and a series of actions to help save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient. This order included measures to help: replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping and old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; cut water use at campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes; prevent potable water irrigation at new developments unless water-efficient drip systems are used; and stop watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.

Within days of the Governor's order, the State Water Resources Control Board released its framework to achieve the mandatory water reductions and the California Energy Commission approved new water appliance standards to save billions of gallons of water per year. Yesterday, the California Department of Water Resources announced that due to the severe drought it will install an emergency, temporary rock barrier across a Sacramento San Joaquin Delta channel to help prevent the saltwater contamination of water that 25 million Californians depend on.

These measures build on unprecedented action by the State Water Resources Control Board over the past year to prohibit other wasteful water use and encourage Californians to conserve, including strict limits on outdoor irrigation (two days a week in much of California) and bans on hosing down outdoor surfaces, decorative water fountains that don't recirculate water and car washing without an automatic shut-off nozzle. Bars and restaurants are also now required to only serve water upon request and hotels must ask guests staying multiple nights whether linens and towels need to be washed.

Governor Brown proclaimed a drought state of emergency in January 2014 and for more than two years, the state's experts have been managing water resources to deal with the effects of the drought, which include severely curtailed water supplies to agricultural producers, farmworker job losses due to fallowed fields, drinking water vulnerability in communities across California, heightened fire danger and threats to endangered and threatened fish and wildlife.

Not mentioned in the Governor's media advisory was the fact that agribusiness uses 80 percent of California water while oil companies and Nestle Waters and other water bottling companies continue to drain and pollute California aquifers during a record drought.

The mainstream media, state officials and corporate "environmental" groups have for years tried to portray California as the "green" leader of the nation. In reality, California suffers from some of the greatest environmental degradation of any state in the nation, since corporate agribusiness, the oil industry and other big money interests control the majority of the state's politicians and exert inordinate influence over the state's environmental policies.

At an Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) event at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento last week, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird claimed that "everybody is a soldier in the fight" to address the drought.

Yes, everybody except for those corporate mega-farmers, who receive subsidized water and other subsidies, planting almonds in the drought!

According to the "On the Public Record" blog, almond acreage in California has expanded by 70,000 acres, a total of 280,000 acre feet per year of new water demand:

"I have marked the almond acreage at the beginning and end of the 2006-2009 drought (700,000 acres at the beginning, 810,000 acres at the end). At the beginning of our current drought, almond acreage was 870,000 acres. In 2013, after two years of drought, it was up to 940,000 acres. It looks like the 2014 California Almond Acreage Report comes out at the end of April (here's 2013). I will be excited to see a new total acreage.

Let's make this all explicit. Since this drought began, almonds have expanded by 70,000 acres. That's 280,000 acft/year of new water demand for a snack that will be exported. That water will come from groundwater or from other farmers. At the same time, the California EPA is literally telling urban users to take five minute cold showers. If there is a lot of new acreage in 2014 and 2015, it is going to be difficult for the Brown administration to stay friends with them."

It's clear that the severity of this drought calls for much more than just individual action like cutting back on your showers or flushing your toilet less. California water restrictions must include corporate agribusiness, Big Oil and Nestle and other bottling companies during the drought.

To take action, go to: http://sandiegofreepress.org/2...

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Governor Brown's drought order lets corporate agribusiness, oil companies off the hook

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Apr 02, 2015 at 19:33:36 PM PDT

Governor Jerry Brown on April 1 issued an executive order that he claimed will "save water," increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more "drought resilient."

The order follows the lowest Sierra Nevada snowpack ever recorded in California history, only 5 percent of the historic average, with no end to the drought in sight.

Critics of the Governor's water policies quickly responded that Brown's order lets corporate agribusiness interests, the biggest users of the state's water, and big oil companies off the hook.

"Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action," said Governor Brown. "Therefore, I'm issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible."  

For the first time in state history, Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent. "This savings amounts to approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months, or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville," according to the Governor's Office.

His executive order also features "increased enforcent actions," including calls on local water agencies to adjust their rate structures to implement conservation pricing, recognized as an effective way to realize water reductions and discourage water waste.

In addition, the order called for "streamlining government response to the drought," including prioritizing state review and decision-making of water infrastructure projects and requiring state agencies to report to the Governor's Office on any application pending for more than 90 days.

To read the full press release and executive order http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=...  

Order does not address most egregious corporate water users

After the Governor held his press conference, Adam Scow, Food & Water Watch California Director, released a statement blasting Governor Jerry Brown's Executive Order for calling for mandatory water reductions while not addressing the state's "most egregious corporate water abuses" by agribusiness and oil companies.

"It is disappointing that Governor Brown's executive order to reduce California water use does not address the state's most egregious corporate water abuses. In the midst of a severe drought, the Governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water.

The Governor must save our groundwater from depletion by directing the State Water Board to protect groundwater as a public resource. Governor Brown should direct the Water Board to place a moratorium on the use of groundwater for irrigating crops on toxic and dry soils on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley. In the two year period covering 2014-2015, the Westlands Water District is on pace to pump over 1 million acre feet of groundwater - more water than Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco combined use in 1 year. Much of Westlands grows water-intensive almonds and pistachios, most of which are exported out of state and overseas. This is a wasteful and unreasonable water use, especially during a severe drought.

Governor Brown should also stop the ongoing contamination of groundwater aquifers by toxic wastewater from oil and gas operations. It is disturbing and irresponsible that the Brown administration continues to allow oil companies to contaminate and rob Californians of these fresh water sources. Given that there is currently no safe way to dispose of toxic wastewater, the Governor should place a moratorium on fracking and other dangerous oil extraction techniques to prevent the problem from getting even bigger."

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, said Brown's proposed drought barriers on the Delta will  push the Delta "closer to collapse." The group said these barriers threaten salmon while the Governor refuses to put restrictions on "corporate mega-farms."

"Governor Brown has had two responses of opposite extremes to the drought crisis," said RTD executive director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. "The first response is to place the largest burden of conservation on urban water users."

"His second response is to push the Delta further toward ecological collapse by expediting the placement of a barrier system to block water flows. Those barriers will decimate fisheries and leave the people of the Delta to suffer due to drought mismanagement by state and federal agencies over the last four years," she noted.

Drought rules don't real with the real crisis: over promised water

"Governor Brown vacillates between advocating for a good start on urban conservation and inflicting destruction on the Bay-Delta estuary," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "He refuses to deal with the real crisis: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed has been five times over promised, with 70% of those water deliveries going to big almond growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.  Enforcing better reporting by agricultural users is an important step, but we already know which watersheds are oversubscribed and that the only way to solve the problem is for adjudication of the Delta watershed."

She said the state and federal water projects' drought contingency plan for 2015 estimates that water districts relying on Delta exports have indicated a need for health and safety-related water supplies of 510,000 acre-feet.

The water projects have already pumped over 739,000 acre-feet in 2015, about 82 percent of which was stored as of March 21 at San Luis Reservoir, west of Los Banos.

Barrigan-Parrilla said it is not yet known how much of these exports are for the "health and safety" purposes of Metropolitan Water District customers, who will be making sacrifices as a result of water rationing and participating heroically in personal responsibility campaigns, and how much is to satisfy industrial mega-farm demand south of the Delta.

"There is not enough water in the watershed to satisfy the insatiable demands of big agribusiness growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and to keep enough surface water in reserve for urban populations," Barrigan-Parrilla added.

Delta barriers will harm salmon and Delta smelt

Restore the Delta Policy Analyst Tim Stroshane said, "The proposed drought barriers project for the Delta will allow the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation to continue managing upstream storage so that the pain of the drought will be borne by Delta residents and ecosystems, and not by Delta water takers. The barriers will have drastic consequence on fisheries, commercial and recreational fishing economies, various Delta farming communities, recreation economies, all so that water will be made available beyond what is needed for health and human safety, but for what purposes we don't know."  

"California must save water first through agriculture reductions on polluted drainage impaired land, which uses 2/3 of the Delta's exported water. To protect urban areas, we need a Marshall Plan to implement conservation, groundwater storage, storm water capture, cisterns, recycling and effective drought planning. Estimates show that it will cost tens of billions to repair urban water systems alone," Barrigan-Parrilla said.

In the last 28 water years (since the beginning of the 1987-92 drought), wet and above normal years have occurred just 11 times (39 percent of the time) in both the San Joaquin and Sacramento River basins, according to Restore the Delta. This means that the premise of "emergency" drought barriers is false.

"Emergency" connotes an event that is short-lived and infrequent, if it occurs at all. But below normal to critical water years occur more than half the time (as they have for almost the last three decades). "Emergency" becomes meaningless.

"The Department of Water Resources plans to install and remove barriers simultaneously with when juvenile salmon would be attempting to rear in, or emigrate through, the Delta before they leave for the Pacific Ocean. The most invasive and disruptive activities associated with the barriers proposal occur at critically sensitive times in the life histories of these most magnificent and vulnerable listed species," Stroshane added.

Waters upstream and downstream of the barriers within the Delta will stagnate. When the dilution action of flows is greatly reduced during summer heat, water temperatures increase, salinity is projected to increase, and pollutant and contaminant concentrations will increase as well, according to Stroshane.

With the drought barriers, Delta smelt are likely to face extinction this year, with barriers installed to limit flow. And the Delta itself will be become an even less hospitable place for the vulnerable fish species that remain.

"Whether it's the barriers or the Delta tunnels, it is apparent how little Governor Brown cares for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.  He has not insisted on the fallowing of fields during the drought by junior water rights holders.  He is pushing Delta smelt to extinction, setting up our salmon fisheries for failure, and sacrificing sustainable six-generation Delta farms for almonds, fracking, and speculative desert development," concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.

For more information on the biggest threats to California's rivers, lakes, ocean waters, fish and environment, go to: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...
 

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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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Agency leaders admit big failure to protect water from oil pollution

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Mar 11, 2015 at 14:43:03 PM PDT

Anti-fracking coalition responds to Senate hearing on oil regulations

The California State Senate held an oversight hearing in Sacramento on March 10 to examine why California oil regulators issued hundreds of illegal permits that allowed the oil industry to inject toxic wastewater directly into protected aquifers. During the hearing, state and federal agency leaders admitted that that they failed to protect California's precious water supplies from fracking and other methods of oil extraction.

The hearing was held the same day the that the Environmental Working Group released a report revealing that the recent discovery of high levels of benzene in wastewater from oil and gas fracking operations in California turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg.  "An extensive review of a year-old state data by the Environmental Working Group has found that wastewater from hundreds of fracking operations was heavily contaminated with a toxic stew of chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm and nervous system damage," according to the report. (http://www.ewg.org/release/california-s-fracking-wastewater-full-toxic-chemicals)

Speakers at the Joint Hearing of the California Senate Natural Resources and Water and Environmental Quality Committees included Mark Nechodom, Ph.D, Director, Department of Conservation; Jonathan Bishop, Chief Deputy Director, State Water Resources Control Board; Matthew Rodriguez, Secretary, the California Environmental Protection Agency; and John Laird, Secretary, the California Natural Resources Agency.

"We all fell down on the job," admitted Director Nechodom. He also said engineers at the Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) monitoring wastewater injection were "not fully qualified."

Legislators questioned State Water Resources Control Board officials why they allowed the oil industry to operate oil injection wells adjacent to aquifers with high quality water.

"We relied on their expertise," Jonathan Bishop, chief deputy director of the board, said, referring to DOGGR. "In hindsight, maybe we should have done independent analysis. We didn't."

Before the hearing, a news release from the California Natural Resources Agency touted the "significant progress made by water quality and oil recovery regulators on ensuring the protection of drinking water," noting that the U.S. EPA had approved the state's plan to "move forward."

"Protecting human and environmental health and safety are our top priority, so we appreciate the U.S. EPA's approval of our plan to move forward," said Secretary Laird. "We are working closely with our federal counterparts to ensure that now and in the future the public and an important part of our economy can be protected and in balance."

The hearing, "Ensuring Groundwater Protection: Is the Underground Injection Control Program Working?," took place as California continues in a record drought and the oil industry is planning to expand the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in California.

Representatives of Californians Against Fracking weren't impressed with the state's plan approved by the U.S. EPA - and released the following statement at the conclusion of the hearing about the oil regulators' failure to protect groundwater from oil industry pollution. The group called on the regulators to immediately shut down all illegal injection wells.

"The ongoing contamination of California's drinking and irrigation water with toxic oil industry waste fluids is yet another example of why oil companies can't be trusted to operate while ensuring the protection of our communities' health and the environment," Dan Jacobson, State Director of Environment California said on behalf of Californians Against Fracking.

"Years of negligence by state regulators as oil companies have ramped up the use of dangerous methods like fracking have compromised our most precious resource-water. All illegal injection wells need to be shut down immediately to stop the ongoing damage and Gov. Brown needs to put a system in place to ensure regulators are enforcing laws meant to protect our water and health. Allowing more fracking and other new techniques will compound this crisis. That's why more than 150 groups have petitioned Gov. Brown for an immediate halt to fracking and other dangerous oil development," said Jacoboson.

At the hearing, state oil regulators also admitted that they allow cyclic steam injection to routinely occur at pressures high enough to crack the formation, in violation of state and federal law, according to Jacobson.

"The state's top water regulator also confirmed that drinking water aquifers have been contaminated with oil industry waste fluid," noted Jacobson. "In addition, while some limited testing of nearby water wells has been conducted, that the state lacks complete information on water wells and so cannot guarantee that all at-risk water wells have even been located."

Background materials and video link available at http://sntr.senate.ca.gov/2014...

The oil industry is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento - and it has dramatically increased its spending in recent years as it faces growing opposition to the expansion of fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in California. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) spent $8.9 million on lobbying state officials in 2014, nearly double what it spent in the previous year. WSPA spent $4.67 million in 2013.

From 2005 to 2014, the oil industry spent an astounding $266 million influencing the Governor, the Legislature and other California officials, according to Stop Fooling California.

For an in-depth investigation of oil industry spending and influence in California, please read my article in the East Bay Express: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...  

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Californians Against Fracking slams hearing process, calls for fracking ban

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Feb 19, 2015 at 14:50:36 PM PST

Two weeks after the largest anti-fracking protest in U.S. history took place in Oakland, a broad coalition of environmental groups renewed their call on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking and other unconventional oil drilling following reports of illegal wastewater injection into protected aquifers.

Amid new investigative reports into the state's mismanagement of oil industry wastewater wells and following a total fracking ban in the state of New York, community members concerned with the health and environmental risks of fracking and other unconventional oil extraction methods are calling on Brown, who constantly tries to portray himself as a "climate leader" and "green governor" at press conferences and other photo opportunities, to take immediate action to protect Californians.

Residents and representatives from an array of environmental groups voiced concerns at a hearing in Oakland Wednesday evening, according to a news release from Californians Against Fracking. The event is one in a series of hearings hosted by the California state agency responsible for oil development, intended to allow the public to comment on a report on the impacts of fracking on communities' health and the environment.

The hearing comes after the agency-the Conservation Department's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR)-issued fracking regulations at the beginning of this year, before the environmental impact report is complete.

"Governor Brown's oil regulators have issued rules for fracking before they've even finished studying it, putting the cart before the horse and endangering lives," said David Braun in a statement before the hearing on behalf of Californians Against Fracking. "Unsurprisingly, this is the same agency responsible for issuing hundreds of illegal permits for the disposal of oil industry wastewater into multiple protected drinking water aquifers."

"DOGGR's records also show that fracking flowback fluid, which ends up in wastewater disposal wells, contains high levels of benzene and other harmful chemicals. Clearly, the problems associated with fracking are a five alarm fire, but Jerry Brown and his Department of Conservation are treating it like business as usual. If Jerry Brown is truly serious about protecting the people of California and our communities' health, air and water, he will immediately halt fracking and order his health department to study the issue. We're confident his findings will be the same as New York's: A total ban on fracking," said Braun.

The hearing comes shortly after 8,000 Californians concerned with dangerous oil industry practices rallied in Oakland this month to call on Gov. Brown to ban fracking and transition California to 100 percent renewable energy, according to the group.

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 and other dangerous extraction techniques in California. Follow @CAagainstFrack on Twitter.

Want to take action? Tell Governor Brown: "You allowed the oil industry to illegally inject fracking wastewater into federally protected aquifers used for drinking water and irrigation during our historic drought. Immediately shut down all illegal oil waste injection wells, then place an emergency moratorium on fracking in California." Go to: http://act.credoaction.com/sig...

Governor Jerry Brown's support of fracking takes place in the context of his administration's war on fish, water, the environment and the people of California. Brown has constantly gushed about his "green energy" and carbon trading policies at press conferences and photo opportunities while he is rushing the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin 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 questionable "marine protected areas."

The illegitimacy and corruption of the MLPA Initiative process was evidenced by the alarming fact that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association who is leading the campaign to expand fracking in California, CHAIRED the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the task forces to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Brown administration, in collaboration with the Obama administration, has presided over the near-extinction of Delta smelt, as well as driving the American River steelhead run to its lowest-ever recorded population level and killing off 95% of the endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon last year. 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 some corporate "environmental" NGOs continue to falsely portray Brown as a "green" Governor. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/21/is-jerry-brown-running-scared/)

For more information about how Brown and his collaborators are the biggest threats to California's environment, go to: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...  

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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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Will the State Water Board Tear Up Paper Water?

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 18:11:56 PM PST

Restore the Delta (RTD) today responded to the State Water Resources Control Board's (SWRCB) draft order issued Wednesday night demanding water diversion data from every riparian and pre-1914 water right holder in the Delta's Central Valley watershed, starting March 1st "until, well, whenever."

"This is an unprecedented move by the Board's Division of Water Rights," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, opponents of Governor Jerry  Brown's rush to build Twin Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries. "The Board has never issued such a large-scale demand for water rights information before."

RTD has urged the Board to adjudicate all water rights, as the State has granted 5.5 times more water rights than actual water exists in a normal year. Rather than adjudicate the entire system, and face their own fatally flawed math, the Board has chosen to focus on senior water rights holders.

"The scourge of paper water is haunting California during this drought," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "While the Board probably won't act quickly to tear up paper water, and make the priority system better and more responsive, they're taking an important step by requiring everyone in the Central Valley of the Delta to disclose their diversion and use of water. You can't manage what you don't measure."

The move comes after the US Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources charged last July 23rd that Delta water right holders were illegally diverting water reaching the Delta from state and federal reservoirs, a charge thoroughly rejected by Delta interests at the time.

Their diversion and use data are due to the Board on the fifth of each month, apparently starting with March. The Board also threatened to use its "authority to bring enforcement against diverters for unauthorized diversion or use in violation" of the state's water code.

In 2012, Restore the Delta's Policy Analyst Tim Stroshane, then a researcher with the California Water Impact Network, warned the Board that in dry times the Delta watershed would be way short of water to supply, compared to what water right holders claimed they had. "I found that in years of average flow, there were 5.5 times more claims to water than there was natural flow to support them. It's called paper water," said Stroshane. "During this drought, the claims exceed the meager river flows even more. So people are frustrated and looking for answers."

In response to a demand for Delta diversion and water rights information, Bill Jennings, RTD board member and Executive Director of California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, told the Board in September 2014 that they could only make sense of Delta water rights and state and federal exports if they investigated the whole Central Valley watershed of the Delta. "If the Board wants to pursue allegations that Delta farmers are illegally taking water belonging to the state and federal projects, it needs to first determine whether the water the projects claim is being taken actually reaches the Delta, and whether the projects have legal rights to it," wrote Jennings last September.

It appears that is what the Board intends to do in 2015. No stream draining to the Delta is spared in the Board's call for diversion data. The Board's action snags in its web water right holders from the far northern Sacramento River to upstream along the San Joaquin, and up each major tributary stream in the Central Valley, from the Feather River to the Merced. From the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District near Redding to the Central California Irrigation District near Fresno, all the mom and pop water right holders, and everyone else in between is subject to the Board's order.

The Board does not directly regulate these water rights, but state law does authorize the Board to investigate any type of water right to ensure that the holder is diverting water within the limits of that right. US Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources operators told the State Water Board back on January 20th that "Sacramento Valley depletions are like a big black box" of diversions by Sacramento water right holders as well as the dry conditions and groundwater pumping there during the drought. That "black box" is the lack of data plaguing not only the State Water Board, but also the ability of state and federal engineers to operate the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project safely and effectively.

(Their discussion with Board members Felicia Marcus, Dorene D'Adamo, and Fran Spivy-Weber may be viewed at the State Water Board web site (between 17:45 and 29:36) http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/board_...

CSPA's Bill Jennings and State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus have in recent months spoken independently of the benefits of adjudicating water rights throughout the Delta's watershed.

Jennings threw down the gauntlet last August 13th, filing a formal complaint with the State Water Board "against unauthorized and illegal diversion of water by DWR and USBR at their Delta pumping facilities, and against USBR and others for unauthorized and illegal diversion of San Joaquin River riparian flow." He was, in short, petitioning the State Water Board "to initiate, on its own motion, an adjudication of Central Valley water rights."

By law the Board has 270 days (which lapses in May) to decide how it wants to proceed on Jennings' complaint. "Unfortunately, the Board has a track record of rejecting complaints like this out of an abundance of procrastination," said Stroshane.

Board Chair Marcus mentioned adjudication as a source of good data for managing water, in remarks she made to the Public Policy Institute of California's "Managing Drought" event in Sacramento January 12th.

"In the absence of data, everybody thinks someone else is pulling the wool over someone's eyes. This year," she said, "I would like more light than heat." (Her remarks can be viewed (between 37:53 and 40:40) at, https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

For more information, contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve@hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara@restorethedelta.org; Twitter:@RestoretheDelta

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Oil lobby group tops spending list with $8.9 million in 2014

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 09:32:10 AM PST

The oil industry continued its long reign as the top spender on lobbying in California in 2014, according to data just released by the California Secretary of State.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) led the list with $8.9 million spent on lobbying in 2014, nearly double what it spent in the previous year. WSPA spent $4.67 million in 2013.

WSPA apparently spent much of its money on stopping a fracking moratorium bill in the Legislature and trying to undermine California's law to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of WSPA and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California, also successfully opposed legislation by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson to protect the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve and the Tranquillon Ridge from offshore oil drilling plans.

"The winners of the 2014 lobbying competition are in - and the winner is... BIG OIL!'" said Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies' efforts to mislead and confuse Californians. "Congratulations, Western States Petroleum Association and Chevron! No one has spent more on evil in California than you!"

The association spent a total of 4,009,178 lobbying state officials in the third quarter of 2014, a new quarterly record by WSPA. (http://calaccess.sos.ca.gov/Lobbying/Employers/Detail.aspx?id=1147195&session=2013&view=activity)

During that quarter, the association paid $375,800 to KP Public Affairs, a prominent Sacramento lobbying and public relations firm that represents clients in health care, aerospace manufacturing and other industries. WSPA also paid $77,576 to Pillsbury Winthrup Shaw Pittman LLP.

WSPA spent $1,456,785 in the first quarter, $1,725,180 in the second quarter and $1,692,391 in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Along with KP Public Affairs and Pillsbury Winthrup Shaw Pittman LLP, the association hired two other firms, California Resource Strategies and Alcantar & Kahl, to lobby for Big Oil.

The Sacramento Bee pointed out that the "vast majority of the petroleum association's spending on lobbying last year - about $7.2 million - was reported under a catch-all 'other' category that requires no detailed disclosure showing who benefited or how the money was spent." (http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article9261986.html#storylink=cpy)

The San Ramon-based Chevron and its subsidiaries placed third on the list with $4,282,216 spent on lobbying in 2014, including $2,198,209 paid in the fourth quarter.

The California State Council of Service Employees placed second with $5.9 million, while the California Chamber of Commerce finished fourth on the list with $3.9 million and the California Hospital Association and California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems finished fifth with $3 million

The oil industry has spent over $70 million on lobbyists in California since January 2009, according to a 2014 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) topped the oil industry spending with a total of $31,179,039 spent on lobbying since January 1, 2009 at the time of Barrett's report. 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.

Big Oil also exerts its power and influence by spending many millions of dollars every election season on candidates and ballot measures. For example, the oil industry 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. Chevron also spent $3 million (unsuccessfully) to elect "their" candidates to the Richmond City Council.

Not only does Big Oil spend millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but it funds "Astroturf" campaigns to eviscerate environmental laws. Leaked documents provided to Northwest Public Radio, Business Week and other media outlets last year exposed a campaign by the Western States Petroleum Association to fund and coordinate a network of "Astroturf" groups to oppose environmental laws and local campaigns against fracking in California, Washington and Oregon.

This network was revealed in a PowerPoint presentation from a Nov. 11 presentation to the Washington Research Council, given by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, WSPA President. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/12/12/18765457.php)

"The Powerpoint deck details a plan to throttle AB 32 (also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) and steps to thwart low carbon fuel standards (known as LCFS) in California, Oregon, and Washington State," revealed Stop Fooling California. (http://www.stopfoolingca.org/2014/12/leaked-the-oil-lobbys-conspiracy-to-kill-off-californias-climate-law/)

Oil and chemical industry representatives also further exert their power and influence by serving on state and federal regulatory panels. In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in recent California history, WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force to create questionable "marine protected areas" in Southern California. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)

She also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast, as well as on a NOAA federal marine protected areas panel from 2003 to 2014.

The so-called "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative 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 alleged "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 $852,000 from the Yurok Tribe.

The millions Chevron and other oil companies have spent on lobbying, campaign contributions and setting up "Astroturf" groups promoting the oil industry agenda are just chump 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 2013.

Even with sliding oil prices, the big five oil companies- BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell- made $16.4 billion in the last quarter of 2014 and $89.7 billion for the entire year, according to the Center for American Progress. (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2015/02/03/105935/sliding-oil-prices-still-yield-90-billion-2014-for-big-oil/)  

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Anti-fracking coalition calls for shut down of toxic injection wells

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Feb 03, 2015 at 11:42:01 AM PST

A coalition of anti-fracking groups and the Center for Biological Diversity today urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately shut down hundreds of injection wells that are illegally dumping toxic oil industry wastewater into scores of California aquifers during the midst of a record drought.

Oil and gas companies over decades used more than 170 waste disposal wells to inject oil and gas wastewater into dozens of aquifers containing potable water, in violation of state and federal law, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The majority of these violations are located in California's Central Valley, while others are near San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria. (http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/State-let-oil-companies-taint-drinkable-water-in-6054242.php)

"Oil companies in drought-ravaged California have, for years, pumped wastewater from their operations into aquifers that had been clean enough for people to drink," said David Baker, reporter. "They did it with explicit permission from state regulators, who were supposed to protect the increasingly strained ground water supplies from contamination."

The permission to pollute was granted because of the capture of the state's regulatory apparatus by Big Oil and other corporate interests. In fact, the oil industry not only exerts its enormous influence by spending millions and millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributors, but is able to get its officials actually placed on state and federal regulatory panels.

In one of the most egregious examples of the conflicts of interest that infest California environmental politics, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), served as the CHAIR of the Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California. The head lobbyist for the oil industry's campaigns to expand fracking and eviscerate California's clean water and air laws also sat on the task forces to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

This latest report on the fracking disaster that has hit California follows an emergency shutdown of multiple injection wells in Kern County last year due to concern from state regulators that the wells had contaminated groundwater supplies, adding to the growing calls for Governor Jerry Brown, known as "Big Oil Brown" by many environmental activists, to immediately shut down illegal injection wells.

In a statement issued on behalf of Californians Against Fracking, Dan Jacobson, state director for Environment California, said, "Years of negligence by state officials and wanton disregard by the oil industry for the law have led us to water pollution crisis in California and a clear indication that state regulators are not willing to protect California's farmers and families from harsh chemicals that are illegally permeating our water supply. Put simply, California regulators are not up to the task of managing safe wastewater disposal and cede residents' safety and health to oil and gas production."

"We call on Gov. Brown immediately to shut down injection wells that are illegally polluting our groundwater and to issue a moratorium on fracking and other dangerous oil and gas activities, which create large volumes of toxic wastewater. Preserving and protecting California's water and farms is not something to take lightly," he concluded.

The Center for Biological Diversity also called on the EPA to "immediately shut down" hundreds of injection wells that are illegally dumping toxic wastewater into scores of California aquifers, including some that supply water for drinking and farming irrigation.

Today's letter urges the EPA to issue an administrative order requiring operators of these disposal wells to cease operations to protect aquifers from further damage and comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

"In the midst of an unprecedented drought and when so many Californians lack access to safe, clean drinking water, it is outrageous to allow contamination of drinking and irrigation water to continue. It is never acceptable to allow the contamination of drinking and irrigation water with industrial wastewater," the letter says.

The Center said recently revealed documents from the EPA and the state's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources show that state and federal regulators have investigated at least 532 oil industry injection wells across the state - from Monterey County and sites near San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara to Kern and Los Angeles counties - over concerns they are illegally dumping wastewater into scores of aquifers containing water that should be protected under state and federal laws.

"California's drinking water aquifers shouldn't be garbage dumps for the oil industry," said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "It's legally required and just common sense that every well injecting wastewater illegally be shut down immediately to avoid further damage."

Last summer, the state's oil division issued emergency shutdown orders for multiple injection wells in Kern County after it came to light that they were injecting wastewater into aquifers containing high-quality drinking water. But she said the newly revealed documents show that hundreds of other injection wells dumping wastewater into protected aquifers are still in operation.

An EPA letter from December 2014 reveals the seriousness of the problem, but fails to order the immediate shut-down of all wells injecting into protected aquifers.

"Given the need to resolve the program's serious deficiencies in a timely matter, EPA has strengthened oversight and support of the program," the EPA letter says.

"Oil industry wastewater is an extremely salty fluid that typically contains a wide range of contaminants and dangerous chemicals associated with oil production," Siegel said. "It can also contain fracking chemicals linked to cancer and other serious health concerns."

Up to half of all new oil wells in California are fracked, according to a recent study. Flowback fluid from fracked wells often contains dangerous levels of cancer-causing benzene, according to state-mandated tests.

"This water contamination crisis is just the latest consequence of the state's failure to protect Californians from oil industry pollution," said Siegel. "Gov. Brown hasn't heeded calls to protect our air, water and health, so we need the EPA to take immediate action."

For more information, go to: http://www.biologicaldiversity...

In other fracking news, concerned residents from communities across California gathered on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, January 28, to voice their concerns about the health and environmental risks associated with fracking and dangerous oil extraction techniques, and an increase in the number of trains carrying potentially explosive oil through communities across the state. The group called on Gov. Jerry Brown to take actions to protect Californians.

The Sacramento event is the final leg of a statewide tour during which hundreds of community members participated in nightly town halls across the state. Throughout the tour, organizers collected messages to Brown from residents about the negative effects of oil drilling in their communities. They delivered those messages to Brown's Capitol office on Wednesday.

On Feb. 7 thousands of Californians will converge in Oakland - Brown's home town - for the "March for Real Climate Leadership." For more information, go to:http://marchforclimateleadership.org

WHAT: The March for Real Climate Leadership: Our Water, Our Health, Our California
WHEN: 11:30 am, February 7, 2015
WHERE: Frank Ogawa / Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th & Broadway, Oakland, California

Background: Big Oil Money and Power Rules California Politics

There are many powerful industries based in California, ranging from the computer and high tech industry to corporate agribusiness, but 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 $852,000 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.  

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Jerry Brown's True "Green" Legacy: The Death of the Delta?

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Jan 16, 2015 at 16:12:07 PM PST

The following is a revised transcript of the presentation that I gave when I was inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame by Tom Stienstra, Outdoor Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and award-winning author, at the ISE Show in Sacramento on January 11.

Tom Stienstra suggested that I include my 10 favorite destinations for fishing in California as part of my presentation today. These are the American River, Feather River, Sacramento River, Lake Valley Reservoir, Spicer Reservoir, Monterey Bay and Coast, Bodega Bay, San Francisco Bay, Fort Bragg and Trinity River.

Compiling this list was a really good exercise because although I've fished Costa Rica, Mexico, Alaska and British Columbia and many other places, this revealed that my favorite places to fish are close to home.

I also discovered that the one connecting thread of my 10 favorite destinations is that every one of these locations, from the Trinity River that is diverted to the Sacramento, to Monterey Bay, to Spicer Reservoir on the North Fork of the Stanislaus, is intimately connected to the Bay Delta Ecosystem.

If there is one message that I urge you to take home today, it is that if anglers, hunters and outdoors people don't stand up now, this precious ecosystem and all of the great trout, salmon, steelhead, striped bass, halibut, and other fisheries that we enjoy will be lost forever.

There are two stories that I broke recently that really bring this home.  

American River steelhead collapse - On December 29, I found out from the Nimbus Fish Hatchery manager the alarming news that only 10 adult steelhead have returned to the American River. Normally there would be hundreds or thousands of these fish. Last year there were over 335 adults by the same time. In banner years, over 2,000 steelhead would have returned by this time.

As one who has spent many hours in meetings, rallies and events working to restore the river, this is very disappointing. The previous low for the river was 200 fish in 1994.

Nobody's really sure the reasons why the numbers are so low, but the mismanagement of Folsom Reservoir by the Brown and Obama administrations during the drought certainly played a key role. Folsom was drained to only 17 percent of capacity by the same time last year to provide export water to corporate agribusiness and Southern California water agencies. The cold water pool and carryover capacity were both imperiled by the draining and fishing was closed last winter to protect the steelhead.

Delta smelt and pelagic organism collapse - Last night I received dismal results of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Fall Midwater Trawl Survey on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. These 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 Delta smelt "index," a measure of abundance relative to the volume of water sampled, is 9, the lowest in survey history. Delta smelt abundance was highest in 1970 and has been consistently low since 2003, except in 2011, according to Steven Slater, CDFW environmental scientist.  

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 found only in  the estuary and spends all of its life in the Delta.

The survey also revealed the continuing collapse of striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad in the Delta.

• The striped bass index is 59, making it the third lowest index in the survey's history. Age-0 (young of the year) striper abundance was highest at the survey's inception in 1967.

• The longfin smelt index is 16, making it the second lowest index in history. Longfin smelt abundance was also highest in 1967.

• The threadfin shad index is 282, the sixth lowest in history and the seventh in a series of very low abundance indices. Threadfin abundance was highest in 1997.  

• The American shad index is 278, the second lowest in history. American shad abundance was highest in 2003.  

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

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.

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

What are some solutions to stopping this collapse, one that has been made much worse by the pro-corporate agribusiness policies of the Brown and Scharzenegger administrations?

First, we must strongly oppose federal "drought relief" legislation proposed by Congressman David Valadao that will make things even worse by overriding the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.

Second, we must relentlessly oppose Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the $67 billion 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. We should support the Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan that sets a cap of 3 million acre feet year year and proposes creative conservation and recycling strategies for solving California's water crisis.

Third, join a fishery conservation or environmental justice organization of your choice. The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Restore the Delta, California Striped Bass Association, California Water Impact Network, Klamath Justice Coalition, Friends of the River, Water for Fish and Save the American River Association are among the groups standing up for the fish. These are the groups that I work most closely with.

Fourth, representatives of fish groups, environmental groups and Indian Tribes need to get together and very stridently demand that Governor Jerry Brown, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and DFW Director Chuck Bonham take emergency action above and beyond anything they are doing now, to address the mismanagement of our water resources to save Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt and other species! We must DEMAND, not politely ask, that they take immediate action to address this crisis!

If things continue in the direction they are going, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, Sacramento River winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley sturgeon and other species WILL become extinct in the coming years. We need to come up with new, creative, innovative and more confrontational organizing strategies to stop the state and federal governments from killing off what's left of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

For more information about the 2015 Outdoors Hall of Fame Inductees, including Armand Castagne and Roy Weatherby, go to: http://www.sfgate.com/outdoors...

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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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