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Governor Jerry Brown

Conservation groups slam Delta tunnels plan as Brown grandstands at Vatican

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Jul 22, 2015 at 19:25:08 PM PDT

As Governor Jerry Brown urged leaders to "rise up" to "protect our planet" and to emulate Gandhi at a Vatican symposium today, a coalition of California conservation groups warned state and federal regulators that the rush to approve the construction of Jerry Brown's massive water-diversion tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta violates a multitude of state and federal laws.

The dichotomy between Governor Brown's "green" words at the Vatican and his actions on the ground in California couldn't be starker as he promotes the expansion of fracking in California, fast-tracks the environmentally devastating Delta tunnels plan and presides over water policies that are driving Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, and Sacramento splittail closer and closer to extinction every day.

After Governor spoke yesterday on "lighting a fire" to "fight climate change," Brown again spoke on the final day of the Vatican's symposium on climate change and modern slavery at Casina Pio IV, home of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Brown called on local leaders to "rise up" and "build bridges" to protect our planet and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"In a world with a lot of complacency and a lot of cynicism, it's going to take imagination, it's going to take real faith. And that's why I think it's very important that this meeting is within the Vatican and the Pontifical Academy," said Governor Brown. "Pontifex means 'bridge builder.' We have to build bridges to our business leaders, to our political leaders. And as the pope said, it's got to come from the periphery - that's a new word for mayors. So, peripherals of the world - rise up, you have nothing to lose and you have everything to gain."

He also urged conference attendees to emulate Christ's 12 Disciples and Gandhi.

"So, we have to think of those instances where radical change occurred," said the Governor. "And being right here in Rome where we can walk through the ruins of a great Roman Empire gives us an example. It was defeated not by another empire but by 12 Galileans who had no money, who didn't even speak Latin, but who began the process of taking down the Roman Empire and replacing it with Christianity."

"Getting a little more modern, how did the great British Empire get thrown out of India? It was a man who just had a little cloth on, who used to go around in his underwear. Mr. Gandhi who, I think, Churchill was rather contemptuous of. And yet, Gandhi speaks more to where we are than Mr. Churchill or any of the other politicians," stated Brown.

Meanwhile, in California where people are suffering from a multitude of the Brown administration's unjust and destructive environmental policies, a coalition of four environmental groups - Friends of the River, the Environmental Water Caucus, Restore the Delta and the Center for Biological Diversity - sent a letter to the state and federal agencies that are promoting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP)/California Water Fix underscored the agencies' failure to consider alternatives that would reduce diversions and increase freshwater flows through the Delta.

The groups wrote that "instead of sharply defining the issues and providing a clear basis for choice among options, the BDCP consultants have produced 48,000 pages of conclusory Water Tunnels advocacy."

They said BDCP agencies have ignored repeated requests to develop and consider real alternatives in order to "stack the deck" making it easier to adopt the Water Tunnels alternative.

Read the letter here: http://www.friendsoftheriver.o...  

Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity blasted the tunnels plan for being a "disastrous water export plan."

"The fix is in for the twin tunnels project, which has always been merely a huge water grab with some window dressing," said Miller. "Now the so-called 'California Water Fix' has abandoned any pretense of habitat protection. This disastrous water-export plan will hand over massive diversion tunnels to corporate agribusiness and lock in the current over-pumping of water from the Delta, decimating our native fish runs and speeding up the extinction of endangered salmon, steelhead, smelt and sturgeon."

The environmental coalition is calling on BDCP agencies to reject the water plan and prepare a new Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement that would include a range of real Delta restoration alternatives, instead of just replicating the same water-diversion and conveyance project "dressed up in different outfits."

"Governor Brown and the tunnel-promoting agencies have a bad case of tunnel vision, and have ignored all requests for a Delta plan with true alternatives that reduce fresh water diversions and protect the Delta," said Robert Wright, senior counsel for Friends of the River. "The Environmental Water Caucus developed a Responsible Exports Plan alternative and handed it to BDCP agencies on a silver platter. Other agencies ranging from the National Academy of Sciences to the Environmental Protection Agency have also called for real alternatives. Instead, BDCP agencies have released another flawed environmental review document that fails to comply with our environmental laws."

"In addition to protecting the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, and making more water for California, the Environmental Water Caucus plan for water efficiency would actually create more jobs for California than a large and expensive project like the Delta Tunnels," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta's executive director.

Barrigan-Parrilla cited the U.S. Alliance for Water Efficiency data that says that 22 jobs can be created for every $1 million spent on water efficiency. In stark contrast, the revised BDCP EIR reveals that the tunnels "at best would make about 5.5 jobs for every $1 million of public investment, less than half the job creation of most construction spending."

In reference to the dichotomy between the Governor's words at the Vatican and his actions in California, Conner Everts, facilitator of the Environmental Water Caucus, noted, "Theology in theory is great, but the reality is California has been devastated by losses to the environment from solutions that are stuck in the last century. Brown's disconnection from reality is getting greater and greater."

Also on Wednesday, the California Department of Water Resources and the Federal Bureau of Reclamation announced a 60-day extension of the public comment period for the joint Partially Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report (RDEIR)/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan/California WaterFix. The time extension was the result of a request from a broad coalition of environmental groups, fishing organizations, Tribes and public trust advocates.

The public comment period began July 10. Originally scheduled to end on August 31, 2015, it is being extended to Friday, October 30, 2015.

"The two-month extension gives the public, government agencies, and independent scientists more time to consider refinements and changes made since last summer to the plan that seeks to secure California's water supplies and improve ecosystem conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta," according to a news release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

To view or download the RDEIR/SDEIS, or for a list of locations to access a DVD of the document, please go to www.baydeltaconservationplan.com. If you encounter problems accessing the documents, please call 916-978-5100 or email mppublicaffairs@usbr.gov

Background on Groups

Friends of the River, California's statewide river conservation organization, protects and restores California rivers by influencing public policy and inspiring citizen action. www.friendsoftheriver.org

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org

Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign of more than 20,000 people devoted to saving the San Francisco Bay Delta estuary for our children and future generations. www.restorethedelta.org  

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Jerry Brown gushes about "fighting climate change" at Vatican as he fracks California

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Jul 22, 2015 at 14:39:27 PM PDT

In yet another carefully choreographed photo opportunity to tout his "green" image while he promotes the expansion of fracking, Governor Jerry Brown today urged the world's mayors to "light a fire" and "join California in the fight against climate change."

Brown was speaking on the first day of the Vatican's symposium on climate change and modern slavery hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences.

"We have fierce opposition and blind inertia," Brown claimed. "And that opposition is well-financed, hundreds of millions of dollars going into propaganda, into falsifying the scientific record, bamboozling people of every country. We have to fight that propaganda and overcome the inertia and the tremendous opposition."

"Mayors, you are at the bottom of this power chain and you have got to light a fire. We have to join together. We have to make a change. It's up to us to make it happen," Brown said.

Without a hint of irony, Brown also gushed about the "interconnectedness of all beings" as his administration rushes the construction of the Delta tunnels, potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, and presides over water policies that have brought winter run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and Sacramento splittail to the brink of extinction.

"The role of nature, the interconnectedness of all beings, these are ideas that while implicit, have never been so clear as they have been made in this encyclical," stated Brown.

The Vatican's symposium aims to drive awareness, dialogue and action at the local level on climate change and modern slavery - two interconnected issues highlighted in the pope's recent encyclical, according to an announcement from the Governor's Office.  

You can expect the mainstream media and some corporate "environmental" groups to gush over Brown's grandstanding at the Vatican with little critical analysis of the Governor's actual environmental record, a toxic legacy that I have documented in article after article.

Fortunately, faith leaders from Brown's home state and environmental experts introduced a critical note to the narrative about Brown's visit to the Vatican when they commended the Pope for his leadership and urged him to take this opportunity to call on Brown and other leaders to ban fracking and take every possible measure to protect "our climate."

"We in the faith community applaud Pope Francis for highlighting the moral imperative of addressing climate change and protecting creation, and appreciate that he is bringing leaders like Jerry Brown to the Vatican to highlight the issue," said Rev. Ambrose Carroll, a senior pastor at the Church by the Side of Road in Oakland, Calif., and a member of Faith Against Fracking. "We hope he will be able to get Governor Brown to see the indisputable incompatibility of his attempts to fight climate change while enabling the worst climate polluters to continue fracking."

"As Pope Francis meets with leaders from around the world on climate change, we applaud his efforts to make environmental stewardship a priority of the Catholic community and commend his willingness to speak up about our moral imperative to protect the planet," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe.

"Among the Pope's guests this week is California Gov. Jerry Brown, an American politician who, despite having done much to further the global conversation on climate change, continues to put his own state's environmental and public health at risk by supporting the expansion of fracking and other extreme oil drilling. We urge Pope Francis to send a clear message to Brown and other elected officials that fracking-in California, in Europe, or elsewhere-has no place in his vision for a greener planet," emphasized Hauter.

Latino communities in California, who disproportionately live near fracking and other extreme oil drilling sites in the state, on Monday sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to intercede on their behalf and protect residents from fracking, according to Californians Against Fracking. (http://californiansagainstfracking.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Pope-Francis-Latino-Letter.pdf)

"As the defender of all that is moral and good, we ask that you intercede on our behalf due to the suffering we are facing as a result of Governor Brown's support of these practices," the letter stated. "In our communities, the oil and gas industry is using dangerous extraction methods like fracking next to our schools and in our backyards, and it is contaminating our air and our water, and making us sick. Because of fracking, our communities are suffering."

The group said more than 60,000 children in California attend school within one mile of a stimulated oil well - of which 60 percent are Latino. Statewide, Latino students are nearly 19 percent more likely than non-Latino students to attend a school within a mile and a half of a stimulated well. Last week, a Kern County family sued Governor Brown claiming that the new fracking regulations do not protect the health of Latino public school children. (http://www.crpe-ej.org/crpe/index.php/component/content/article/360-romo-v-brown)

In his recent encyclical on climate change Pope Francis said, "Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with the current models of production and consumption...We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels - especially coal, but also oil, and to a lesser degree, gas - needs to be progressively replaced without delay." (http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html)

More than a dozen countries in Europe, including Italy, Germany and France, have banned or placed a moratorium on fracking. In the United States, a number of states including New York and Maryland have moved to halt the practice - but not Jerry Brown's California, supposedly a "green" state.

An independent study released by the California Council on Science and Technology earlier this month confirmed that fracking and other methods of oil development in the state are harmful to human health, air quality and the state's vulnerable water supply.

There is little doubt why Governor Brown is such a fervent backer of extreme oil extraction in California; the oil industry is one of the biggest and most faithful contributors to his campaigns.

On September 20, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 4, an odious piece of legislation that creates the infrastructure for the expansion of fracking in California.'' Before Brown signed the bill, he had received millions in donations from Big Oil, according to Robert Gammon's East Bay Express article published on October 2, 2013. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/fracking-jerry-brown/Content?oid=3726533)

"Before Jerry Brown signed legislation last month that promises to greatly expand fracking in California, the governor accepted at least $2.49 million in financial donations over the past several years from oil and natural gas interests, according to public records on file with the Secretary of State's Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Of the total, $770,000 went to Brown's two Oakland charter schools - the Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute. The other $1.72 million went to his statewide political campaigns for attorney general and governor, along with his Proposition 30 ballot-measure campaign last year," said Gammon.

Jerry Brown's support of fracking is just one of the multitude of terrible environmental policies that he has embraced. Since I am the only reporter, that I am aware of, who has investigated the environmental record of Jerry Brown as a whole, I encourage other journalists also to investigate his real environmental record.

His environmentally destructive policies include promoting carbon trading greenwashing; rushing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the Delta tunnels; driving Delta smelt and salmon to the edge of extinction; campaigning for the Prop. 1 water grab; and forging ahead with the oil industry lobbyist-overseen Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create deeply-flawed "marine protected areas."

For more information about Governor's real environmental record, go to: http://www.truth-out.org/speak...

While Jerry Brown's call to "light a fire" on the climate change issue as he promotes fracking and other anti-environmental policies has ignited criticism and protests by environmentalists, the Pope's failure to respond to American Indian activists' call to not canonize Fr. Junipero Serra has also spurred events and ceremonies throughout the state.

The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band held a ceremony at Mission San Juan Bautista on Saturday, July 11, seeking to reverse his decision on behalf of their ancestors. Canonization critics point out that the 21-mission system begun under Serra enslaved, brutalized and forcibly converted Indians to Catholicism. (http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_28469992/father-junipero-serras-sainthood-protested-at-mission-san)

Governor Brown's Remarks

The full text of the Governor's remarks is below:

Thank you. I think I'll take as my text - if I may - some words of Saint Paul to the Galatians, "God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." And what Saint Paul said in reference to God we can also say about God's creation. We have heard what we're doing to that creation, what a trillion tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases will do. And that text that God is not mocked is not susceptible to compromise, to regrets. It's inexorable, it's absolutes. We have to respond and if we don't, the world will suffer. We will all suffer. In fact, many people - millions are suffering already.

Now, to change the world from a fossil fuel based culture is not easy, but there are plenty of examples where it's happening. So, I can bring you the example of California, which for many years has been taking on serious environmental challenges. California is now deriving 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and in that source we don't count nuclear or hydro. Secondly, we have the most efficient buildings, because of our building regulations, in the entire country. As a result, California citizens have saved tens of billions of dollars in energy bills. The same is true for our appliance standards, the most efficient in the country. As far as automobile pollution, we have very strict tailpipe emissions standards. And as a result and because of some changes in Washington, those standards are now adopted as the national standard of America. And that source of pollution is going down, not fast enough but steadily. We also have 40 percent of the electric cars in the United States.

But we're not stopping there. We also have a commitment. And my commitment is to increase the renewable portfolio to 50 percent of the electricity consumed, 50 percent. And, at the same time, reduce petroleum in cars and trucks by 50 percent in the next 15 years. That's quite a challenge, but it can be done. The California economy has steadily reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, particularly on a per capita basis, but its economy is growing over the last decade faster than the economy of the United States as a whole. So, there are ways that we can not mock creation or the laws of nature, but live within them. We have to get on the side of nature and not abuse it or go against it.

Pope Francis spoke about the abuse of goods. And what our modern world has seen and has enjoyed is the good of petroleum. We are a petroleum culture. We got here by means of petroleum, on airplanes and cars. Our clothes, the food deliveries, it's all based on petroleum. So, it's not a bad, it's a good. But it becomes a bad when used at the point that seven billion people now have over a billion cars with the coal plants, the oil and the gas. So, we have to make a transition because goods become bads when they are abused and go beyond a certain threshold.

We know the problem. Yes, there are uncertainties, but we don't even know how far we've gone or if we've gone over the edge. There are tipping points, feedback loops. This is not some linear set of problems that we can predict. It requires that we imagine down the road in the future and then react.

But right in the middle of this problem we have fierce opposition and blind inertia. And that opposition is well-financed, hundreds of millions of dollars going into propaganda, into falsifying the scientific record, bamboozling people of every country. Television stations, political parties, think tanks, PhDs, university personnel, they form a group of people that is attempting to put a cloud of doubt and uncertainty over the clear science that you heard earlier this morning. So, we have to fight that propaganda and overcome the inertia and the tremendous opposition.

Now, how are we going to do that? First of all, we are going to have to set a clear goal. And that goal is almost unimaginable. One-third of the oil that we know exists as reserves can never be taken out of the ground. Fifty percent of the gas can never be used and over 90 percent of the coal. Now, that is a revolution. That is going to take a call to arms.

And if you look at our national leaders, we're not going to get there. Mayors, you are at the bottom of this power chain and you've got to light a fire if I may use that metaphor - in terms of climate change, it's probably the wrong one. But we have to join together. It's not going to happen. We're not on the road to avoiding the catastrophes that climate change entails, so we have to make a change. This is a real conversion. Using the word transformation - that's a big word, I don't like to use it. It's very hard to transform. I once entered the Jesuit seminary and our goal was to become perfect, a life of perfection. I can tell you, it's very hard. You don't get perfect and at the end of the day you don't feel very transformed. But in this case, we may not transform our being, but we are going to have to transform our use of the goods in the world, namely petroleum. And we can do it.

I ask you to join with California and 19 other states and provinces to make a commitment to live within the no more than two degrees, to get us down to two tons per person. We can do that. By the way, the United States is over 20 tons per person. California, we're at 12, so we're a little better. But that's because we have a lot of sun and we have a very benign climate. But we are suffering in the Southwest from drought and the ravages of climate change already. But keeping it under two is the goal. In Vietnam they only use one and a half tons per person. India is maybe two. So the developed world has put in most of the carbon and we're going to have to take most of it out. It's a big challenge. It's not politics as usual. It's not going to happen unless major changes happen.

And for the Holy Father to issue that encyclical that's a change. The role of nature, the interconnectedness of all beings, these are ideas that while implicit, have never been so clear as they have been made in this encyclical. So, let's take some inspiration from the Holy Father. Let's take inspiration from ourselves, but don't be in any way confident or complacent. We have a big mountain to climb. We have very powerful opposition that, in at least my country, spends billions on trying to keep from office people such as yourselves and elect troglodytes and other deniers of the obvious science.

So, that's all I have to say. When I look at it - I could quote an Italian, by the way, who said - I shouldn't quote him because he's the founder of the Italian communist party. But he said, "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will." And if we really sense our collective power we can exercise the political will to reverse the trends we're on and to turn a new chapter in human history and live in compatible ways with other beings, with ourselves, and protect the most vulnerable. And do the right thing.

By the way, the church is not trying to become scientists. The pope isn't a scientist, but he's got scientists. And the Pontifical Academies have laid it out pretty clear, so it's up to us to make it happen, the mayors and the governors. But I'm not counting on the presidents and I'm not counting on any Republican Congress in Washington. So, it's up to you guys and you ladies. Thank you very much.

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New report reveals retiring toxic farmland would save water, money

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Jul 22, 2015 at 14:36:43 PM PDT

For years, I have been encouraging the state and federal governments and environmental groups to conduct an analysis of how much it would cost, in terms of both money and water, to retire toxic land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley versus keeping the land in agricultural production.

Since much of the political cheerleading for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the Delta tunnels is based on the assumption that this drainage-impaired land will continue to be irrigated, this is a key question that should have been answered before any plans for new conveyance or controversial Congressional "drought" legislation were developed.

Unfortunately, the political and economic power of the Westlands Water District and the State Water Contractors have enabled them to capture the regulatory apparatus, so the state and federal agency officials wouldn't dare commission a study that would show that the costs of keeping the land in production are more than those of retiring the drainage impaired land.

While the state and federal governments have failed to do this long-needed report, three groups - the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), Food and Water Watch and Restore the Delta (RTD) - have stepped up to take this challenge on.

The groups recently funded a new report by EcoNorthwest, an independent economic analysis firm, that estimates that 300,000 acres of toxic land in the Westlands Water District and three adjacent water districts could be retired at a cost of $580 million to $1 billion. The report's authors are Austin Rempel and Ed MacMullan of ECONorthwest.

The report, released on July 14, reveals that spending $1 billion to take selenium-laced, unsustainable lands out of production and cutting the water contracts that accompany them actually saves Californians money, along with saving water and the environment. Land retirement makes a lot more economic sense than spending $67 billion to build Governor Brown's Delta tunnels, which are largely designed to keep supplying subsidized water to corporate mega-farms on the west side of the San Joaquin.

"Retiring this land and curbing the water rights associated with it would result in a savings to California of up to 455,000 acre-feet of water - for reference, the City of Los Angeles uses 587,000 acre-feet in a typical year," according to a news release from three groups. "This course of action also is significantly less expensive than Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build a massive tunnel system to divert water from the Sacramento River for the benefit of corporate agribusiness."

The report sums up the problems of irrigating drainage impaired land, after noting that farmers produce more than 250 different crops in the Central Valley with an estimated value of $21 billion per year:

"Despite the region's overall productivity, large swaths of land, primarily in the San Joaquin Valley, are unsuitable for irrigated agriculture. The soils in these naturally dry areas have high levels of salts, selenium and boron, trace elements that - when combined with irrigation water - can poison crops if allowed to remain on lands without proper drainage. Related problems include contaminated waterways, increased toxic runoff into the Delta, and deformities in birds and fish."

In light of this land's unsuitability for irrigated agriculture, Food & Water Watch, the California Water Impact Network and Restore the Delta (RTD) are calling on the Obama administration to retire up to 300,000 acres of selenium-tainted land and reduce the annual supply of water in the San Luis Unit, which includes parts of Westlands, San Luis, Panoche and Pacheco water districts, by 455,000 acre-feet. This water is typically pumped from the South Delta via the federal Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project (CVP).

The groups say the Delta is "suffering from poor water quality" because of the removal of fresh water to irrigate water-intensive crops such as almonds and pistachios in the Westlands Water District, located on the hot and dry western side of the San Joaquin Valley.

"California needs to balance water demands with the realities of its supply, which means retiring inappropriate farmland," said Adam Scow, California Director at Food & Water Watch. "Retiring toxic farmland in Westlands is a commonsense step toward protecting our overstretched and dwindling water supply."

This study was issued as California growers continue to expand their water-thirsty almond acreage in the state during the drought while the Brown administration mandates that urban families slash their water usage by 25 percent. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/05/15/californias-thirsty-almond-acreage-grows-by-150000-acres-during-record-drought)

California's 2014 almond acreage was estimated at 1,020,000 acres, up 50,000 acres from the 2013 acreage of 970,000, according to a recent survey (PDF) conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). During the current drought, the total almond acreage has expanded by a total of 150,000 acres. Much of this new almond acreage went into production on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The report also comes as the Obama administration and Westlands engage in secret negotiations over the fate of this toxic land.

"Central to the discussions is millions of dollars in debt owed by Westlands to U.S. taxpayers for the faulty and incomplete construction of the Central Valley Project, which supplies water to the district," noted Scow.

The groups said the disastrous consequences of industrial-scale cultivation of seleniferous lands were exposed in 1983, when thousands of migratory waterfowl were deformed or killed outright at Kesterson Wildlife Refuge due to deliveries of toxic drain water from Westlands Water District agribusiness operations.

A recent draft settlement revealed that the Obama administration has proposed guaranteeing Westlands nearly 900,000 acre-feet of water per year for fifty years, while letting the district off the hook for $365 million of its debt. The groups said the proposed deal would provide for the continued irrigation of more than 250,000 acres of selenium-tainted lands, allowing toxic runoff to continue plaguing the San Joaquin River and the Bay-Delta/Estuary. A final settlement proposal is expected soon.

The Environmental Working Group estimated that annual subsidies to Westlands range from $24 million to $110 million a year.

"Discharge into the San Joaquin River harms Bay-Delta drinking water supplies, family farms, fish and wildlife," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "Everyone knows land retirement will need to happen eventually because there will come a point where the drainage-impaired lands will become unfarmable."

The three groups noted that the retirement of these poisoned lands and the "paper water" that goes with them would greatly reduce the toxic drainage currently poisoning the San Joaquin River and the San Francisco Bay/Delta Estuary.

In addition to calling for land retirement, the groups are urging Governor Brown and the State Water Board to stop the "paper water" claims that run with the land - the disparity that exists between water rights claims and water that actually exists. Currently, the State Water Resources Control Board has allocated water rights claims that exceed available water from the Delta watershed by a factor of five.

"The retirement must be accompanied by a proportional reduction in water contract amounts," said Tom Stokely, Water Policy Coordinator of C-WIN. "UC Davis has demonstrated that California water demands are vastly out of balance with the realities of our supply: it's no more than 'paper water.' To guarantee Westlands a fifty-year water supply, as the current settlement does, would be an unfair and irresponsible giveaway to heavily-subsidized, corporate farms in Westlands."

In a previous land retirement deal, Westlands' water supply allocation was not reduced. A concern shared by the three groups is that under the deal, "corporate farms might sell their taxpayer-subsidized water for private profit at the expense of the environment," said Stokely.

"We cannot permit Westlands to transform itself from heavily subsidized corporate farms into a water broker at the expense of taxpayers and the San Francisco Bay/Delta Estuary," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

In addition, given the likelihood that land retirement would eliminate farm jobs tied to that land, the three groups recommend that those farmworkers "be compensated fairly for their losses and that public funds be made available for that purpose."

The groups also emphasized the cost savings to Californians represented by retiring these toxic land. "Spending one billion dollars to take these selenium-laced, unsustainable lands out of production and cutting the water demand that goes with them saves Californians water money," said Scow of Food & Water Watch. "Retiring these west side lands makes a lot more sense than spending $67 billion to build Governor Brown's outdated tunnels to support corporate agribusiness."

Read the EcoNorthwest Report: http://www.econw.com/our-work/...

For more information about the Westlands Water District, read Lloyd Carter's excellent Golden Gate Law Review article, "REAPING RICHES IN A WRETCHED REGION: SUBSIDIZED INDUSTRIAL FARMING AND ITS LINK TO PERPETUAL POVERTY," at: http://www.lloydgcarter.com/fi...

Background on C-WIN, RTD and Food & Water Watch:

The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN, online at http://www.c-win.org) promotes the just and environmentally sustainable use of California's water, including instream flows and groundwater reserves, through research, planning, media outreach, and litigation. http://www.c-win.org

Restore the Delta is a 20,000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta's mission is to save and restore the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary for our children and future generations. http://www.restorethedelta.org

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food and water we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control. http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org

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Jerry Brown's head oil regulator resigns after RICO suit filed

by: Dan Bacher

Sun Jun 07, 2015 at 06:52:47 AM PDT

Mark Nechodom, the controversial director of the California Department of Conservation, the agency that oversees the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), resigned on Thursday, June 4.

DOGGR is the agency charged with regulating the state's oil and gas industry. Governor Jerry Brown in 2011 appointed Nechodom, who is considered very friendly to the oil industry, to the post in order to expedite permits for oil drilling in Kern County and elsewhere.

The agency has faced increasing scrutiny from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after permitting oil companies conducting steam injection and fracking operations to drill thousands of oilfield wastewater disposal wells into protected aquifers.

The Committee to Protect Agricultural Water, a citizen organization comprised of Central Valley farmers and "individuals concerned about California's drinking water," filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) complaint in Federal Court on June 3, the day before Nechodom resigned.

The RICO Complaint claims that Governor Jerry Brown's office ordered the DOGGR to approve permits to inject contaminated water in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. (http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/06/03/741916/10137097/en/Kern-County-Group-Files-RICO-Lawsuit-Against-Governor-and-Oil-Companies.html#sthash.9gqriFwS.dpuf_)

The lawsuit alleges that "The Oil Companies, Governor's Office, Director of Conservation Mark Nechodom, State Oil & Gas Supervisor Tim Kustic, Director of the Kern County Planning and Development Department Lorelei Oviatt, DOGGR, WSPA, CIPA, and others known and unknown, formed an "enterprise" ("the Enterprise") to achieve through illegal means the goal of increasing oil production and maximizing profits and tax revenue by allowing the Oil Companies to inject salt water into fresh water in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act."

That's not the only suit filed challenging the agency's "permits to pollute." A lawsuit filed on May 7 by Earthjustice in Alameda County Superior Court, on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club, challenged recently unveiled "underground injection control" regulations from DOGGR.

"The regulations allow oil companies to continue injecting oil industry wastewater and other fluids into protected aquifers until February 2017, in violation of state and federal law and despite a water-scarcity crisis caused by the worst drought on record," according to a statement from the groups. "DOGGR pushed the rules through in just a few days, characterizing inconvenience to the oil industry from interrupting its illegal injections as a public 'emergency.'" (See interactive map: http://www.biologicaldiversity...

Nechodom told lawmakers earlier this year that regulators "all fell down" in protecting the state's water supplies.

Jason Marshall, the Conservation Department's Chief Deputy Director, will head the tainted department while a permanent replacement is sought.

Attorney Rex Parris, whose law firm filed the RICO lawsuit, said in a written statement Friday, "We are not surprised that Nechodom resigned a day after the filing of this lawsuit. We are confident he is just one of many resignations to come."

Mark Schlosberg, organizing director with Food and Water Watch, a member organization of Californians Against Fracking, responded to the resignation by saying it points to the larger failure by the Brown administration to protect California's water and air.

"When it comes to ensuring the public's health and protecting our water and air, Jerry Brown has failed," said Schlosberg. "Mark Nechodom is one of many in the Brown Administration who have looked the other way as oil companies inject poison into underground drinking water, spill oil onto our beaches and spew methane into the air."

"It is incumbent upon Gov. Brown to hold the oil industry and his own state regulators accountable and protect Californians from these inherently unsafe practices. Nechodom's departure does not let Brown off the hook," he concluded.

No comments from Nechodom or the Natural Resources Agency were available at press time.

While Brown spouts off about his carbon trading and "green energy" policies at photo opportunity after photo opportunity, he is currently committed to the expansion of fracking in California, spurring increasing resistance to his Big Oil-friendly policies by environmentalists, Tribal leaders and fishermen.

Brown has also continued and expanded some of the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration, including the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin water export tunnels and the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create questionable "marine protected areas."

In one of the biggest environmental conflicts of interest in California history, the Brown administration approved the implementation of so-called "marine protected areas" on the South Coast created under the leadership of a Big Oil lobbyist. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as sitting on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The "marine protected areas" created under the leadership of her and other corporate operatives fail to protect the ocean from oil spills, oil drilling, fracking, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

In a bizarre scenario that the mainstream media and most of the "alternative" media have failed to discuss, four "marine protected areas" now being fouled by the Santa Barbara Oil Spill - the Goleta Slough, Campus Point, Naples and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas - were created under the oil lobbyist's "leadership." If that isn't the proverbial fox guarding the hen house, I don't know what is.

Big Oil is able to exert enormous influence over regulatory bodies like DOGGR and the MLPA Initiative because it is the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in the state. The Western States Petroleum Association spent a record $8.9 million on lobbying in the California in 2014, nearly double what it spent 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)  

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Groups urge Governor to stop irrigating crops with oil field wastewater

by: Dan Bacher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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