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Governor Jerry Brown

Department of Water Resources Faces $60 Million Shortfall

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 15:11:33 PM PDT

Group says taxpayers and ratepayers are on the hook  

It appears that California is not only running out of water during the drought, but it is running out of money to move that water because of mismanagement, according to the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).

The environmental group accused the California Department of Water Resources of facing a $60 million shortfall after failing to collect $125 million owed by water contractors.

"Even as it continues to promote the ruinously expensive, environmentally destructive and ultimately unworkable Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), the California Department of Water Resources has failed to collect $125 million for ongoing operations owed by water contractors, and now faces a $60 million shortfall," according to a C-WIN media release.

"The dearth of cash couldn't come at a worse time for the beleaguered agency," said Carolee Krieger, C-WIN Executive Director. "DWR now has only $50 million available, enough for about 60 days of operations, including meeting payroll."

The group said this shortfall required the agency to withdraw a $500 million bond proposal for BDCP planning costs because the measure's draft disclosure form did not cite the financing deficit.

While this shortfall is occurring, Krieger criticized Governor Jerry Brown and "his proxy, DWR," for continuing to promote the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build two massive water conveyance tunnels beneath the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta at a final cost to ratepayers and taxpayers of $ 67 billion or more, inclusive of interest and cost overruns.

"Ultimately, DWR cannot go broke because it has a default source for funding: property taxes and water rates," Krieger pointed out. "They believe property taxes can be increased to meet the agency's needs without a public vote."

The group said an increase in property taxes is planned for the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California, where officials claim the moves are exempt from Proposition 13 and Proposition 218 that restrict state government options on raising property assessments.

A memo from the Santa Clara Valley Water District, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, demonstrates that district officials believe they can raise property taxes to pay for the Twin Tunnels without a vote, according to Tom Stokely, Water Policy Analyst/Media Contact for the California Water Impact Network. (See http://www.c-win.org/webfm_sen...

"Staff financial modeling assumes that BDCP costs associated with conveyance of State Water Project supply (approximately 65 million out of the $228 million ten year total) would be paid for by the State Water Project tax. Consequently, the State Water Project tax for average single family residence would increase from $36/yr to $60/yr by FY 2023-24," the memo stated.

Stokely also cited a document submitted on March 19, 2014 by Goldman Sachs to the State Water Contractors' Project Authority that flat out says the bonds will be secured by "ad valorem tax" increases. For example, page 10 of the document, the "Goldman Sachs Request for Qualifications and Proposals for Underwriting Services," cites "The authority of DWR to adopt a new Indenture, finance and build BDCP projects and obligate contractors to levy ad valorem tax (if necessary)."  

Nancy Vogel, Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Water Resources, confirmed the shortfall that DWR now faces, attributing it to "cumulative underbilling" of $125 million in 2013 and 2014, and cited a number of reasons why the underbilling occurred.

"DWR is obligated to provide the State Water Project contractors with a projection of the following year's costs and bills by July 1," said Vogel. "We became aware in June that actual SWP operational costs for 2013 and 2014 have been higher than previously accounted for due to a number of factors, including unanticipated maintenance needs and compliance requirements, elimination of State government furloughs, salary increases for skilled project trades and crafts staff, new staff positions, and increases in overhead."

"Because these cost increases were not completely accounted for in 2013 and 2014 bills, a cumulative under-billing of about $125 million occurred over these two calendar years," she explained. "The under collection amounts to 6 percent of the cumulative billing in those two years."

She noted that the total State Water Project billing was $1.06 billion in 2013 and $1.03 billion in 2014 - and that they are working to reduce charges and operating expense in 2015 and to mitigate the "under-collection."

"We are working to reduce the charges for 2015," said Vogel. "For example, we have identified about two dozen projects at existing SWP facilities that were originally billed as operating expenses that could have been capitalized. And we are evaluating the deferral of certain non-critical SWP work for six to 18 months. We anticipate having a revised statement of charges for 2015 in the next few months that reflects a reduction."

She concluded, "No payments have been or are threatened to be missed on any SWP obligations. No compromise of safety has occurred, nor has SWP operational capability been impaired. We are working to reduce SWP operating expenses for 2014 and 2015 and otherwise mitigate the under-collection, and we are confident that the SWP water contractors will be able to absorb the increase without undue hardship."

Krieger called DWR's response "one of the most defensive spins I've ever heard to cover up blatant incompetence."

"If they go ahead with this twin tunnel boondoggle, they're on the verge of running out of money," said Krieger.

Krieger said DWR's quandary comes at a critical time for the BDCP. "The administration has yet to make a strong 'business case' for the Twin Tunnels. The lavishly expensive project is being pushed at a time of growing public resistance to gigantic infrastructure projects that have no palpable benefit," she stated.

"As the facts emerge about the BDCP, it is clear the plan will not increase the state's net supply of water, the Delta will be placed at great risk, and the beneficiaries will be a handful of corporate farms in the western San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin, not southern California urban ratepayers," Krieger emphasized.

She also said secure funding is becoming increasingly elusive. "A large water bond seems foredoomed to failure," noted Krieger. "Property owners are thus the only viable alternative."

'The $125 million dollars that ratepayers and taxpayers will cough up to pay for DWR's shortfall is just the beginning. It will take an additional $1.2 billion to complete the planning process for the Twin Tunnels," Krieger noted.

She said that if the project moves forward, many California residents will see their properties taxes and water rates rise to support the $67 billion Twin Tunnels.

"Few state citizens understand their properties can be so encumbered without a vote or even token input. Unfortunately, they may be about to receive an object lesson in property taxation without representation," she summed up.

The twin tunnels won't create one drop of new water, but they will lead to horrendous environmental degradation, according to tunnel critics. The construction of the tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Tunnels Background: CWIN and other BDCP opponents say Brown's "legacy" project will destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas that provides a nursery for many species. It will harm salmon, halibut, leopard shark, soupfin shark, sevengill shark, anchovy, sardine, herring, groundfish and Dungeness crab populations stretching from Southern Washington to Southern California.

Under the guise of habitat restoration, the BDCP will take vast tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of production in order to irrigate toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and provide Delta water to Southern California developers and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County.

The tunnels are being constructed in tandem with the federal government's plan to raise Shasta Dam, a project that will flood many of the remaining sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe that weren't inundated by Shasta Dam.

Rally against the tunnels: Restore the Delta, C-WIN and other groups opposed to the construction of the twin tunnels will rally on July 29 at the West Steps of State Capitol, 10th St and Capitol Street, Sacramento at 11:30 AM. July 29 is the final day of the public comment period for the Bay Delta Conservation and the EIS/EIR. The rally will feature a variety of speakers and music.

To RSVP for the bus ride from Stockton or Oakley or if you have any questions relating to event, please contact Stina [at] restorethedelta.org or call (209) 475-9550. For more information, go to: http://restorethedelta.org/events  

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Board approves emergency water rules as Brown promotes tunnels and fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 18:09:07 PM PDT

As the State Water Resources Control Board approved new emergency regulations to fine residential "water hogs" up to $500 a day, Californians Against Fracking urged Governor Jerry Brown to ban the environmentally destructive, water intensive oil drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

A dozen activists rallied outside of the EPA building in Sacramento where the regulations were approved. They held signs including, "When in Drought Ban Fracking," "You Can't Have Your Water and Frack It Too," and "Save Our Water: Ban Fracking."

"It's critical to California's future that we conserve water in the face of the serious drought," according to a statement from Californians Against Fracking. "If the Governor and the State Water Board are really serious about protecting California's water supplies, the Governor needs to ban fracking and similar methods. These techniques permanently poison and remove millions of gallons of water from the water cycle. If the Governor stops fracking, not only will he save Californians' water from being wasted during this historic drought, but he'll also protect their health and climate as well."

"Big Oil is one of the state's largest and dirtiest water users," the group said. "If Gov. Jerry Brown wants to lead on climate change and effectively address our dwindling water supplies, he must ban fracking to protect and conserve water in California."

Californians Against Fracking is a coalition of environmental, business, health, agriculture, labor, political, and environmental justice organizations working to win a statewide ban on fracking in California. Find more information at http://www.CaliforniansAgainst...

The Board approved emergency regulations Tuesday that would allow water agencies to ask courts to impose a maximum $500-a-day fine on water wasters. On the same day, data released by the state revealed that water use statewide has increased 1 percent over the past three years, in spite of calls by Governor Jerry Brown for Californians to slash water use by 20 percent during the drought.

"The new conservation regulation is intended to reduce outdoor urban water use," according to a statement from the Board. "The regulation, adopted by the State Water Board, mandates minimum actions to conserve water supplies both for this year and into 2015. Most Californians use more water outdoors than indoors. In some areas, 50 percent or more of daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping."

State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus said, "We are facing the worst drought impact that we or our grandparents have ever seen. And, more important, we have no idea when it will end. This drought's impacts are being felt by communities all over California. Fields are fallowed; communities are running out of water, fish and wildlife will be devastated.

The least that urban Californians can do is to not waste water on outdoor uses. It is in their self-interest to conserve more, now, to avoid far more harsh restrictions, if the drought lasts into the future. These regulations are meant to spark awareness of the seriousness of the situation, and could be expanded if the drought wears on and people do not act."

Ironically, the Board approved the regulations after a drought year, 2013, when the state and federal governments drained Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs to export water to "corporate water hogs" including corporate agribusiness interests farming toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injections in Kern County. None of these "water hogs" were fined for draining northern California reservoirs to abysmally low levels - and leaving little carryover storage for 2014. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/07/1275862/-The-Emptying-of-Northern-California-Reservoirs)

Even more ironically, the same Brown administration that supports fining residential "water hogs" is fast-tracking the biggest and most environmentally devastating public works project in California history, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels under the California Delta. The tunnels won't create one drop of new water, but they will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species. The project will also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

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Delta group reveals Brown water bond is not 'tunnels neutral'

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 16:50:50 PM PDT

California Governor Jerry Brown earlier this week discussed with state legislators his outline for a $6 billion water bond to replace the $11.1 billion bond currently on the November ballot.

His outline for the "Water Action Plan Financing Act of 2014" included $2 billion for storage, $1.5 billion for watershed protection, watershed ecosystem restoration and state settlements, $1.5 billion for water quality and water supply reliability, $500 million for the Delta and $500 million for statewide flood management.

Brown's proposed bond would be "BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan) neutral," according to an outline that was circulated to legislators, some stakeholders and the media.

Responding to Brown's claim, Restore the Delta (RTD), leading opponents of Governor Brown's rush to build massive water export tunnels that mainly serve corporate agribusiness interests in that Westlands and Kern Water Districts, today rejected the Governor's assertion that his proposed state water bond principles are "tunnel neutral." They released proposed bond language that would have taxpayers foot the bill for the damage from the tunnels project.

The group said the tunnels cannot be built without hundreds of millions of dollars to fund "mitigation" of the project's damage, damage the water-takers refuse to pay, and are foisting onto taxpayers.

"The governor's water bond is not 'tunnels neutral,' and his declaring it so does not make it true," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director. "Much in the same way the proponents of the tunnels project named it the 'Bay Delta Conservation Plan,' (BDCP) and classified construction of the massive 35-mile long tunnels their primary 'conservation measure,' the governor is perverting the meaning of the English language. We are not fooled, and neither will the taxpayers who will pay the bill be fooled. This tunnels-enabling provision would doom the water bond we all need to address our water crisis."

RTD released language from the Governor's bond proposal exposing that his bond is not "tunnel neutral."

The governor's proposed Chapter X. Watershed Protection and Ecosystem Restoration, Section 79735 B, provides that funds will be made available for 'habitat restoration' that is part of the BDCP plan, and for moving water from willing sellers to habitat areas, a program that would have taxpayers pay to replace the required water flows exported by the BDCP tunnels.

RTD released BDCP records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showing that the BDCP plans to use bond funds to help fund purchases over the next 50 years of up to 1.3 million acre feet of water annually from upstream areas, such as the Sacramento Valley.

"These purchases are needed to make up for over-pumping by the new water export Tunnels," said RTD consultant Steve Hopcraft. "Having taxpayers fund the replacement of Sacramento River and other water taken by the tunnels is an underhanded, back-door program required to mitigate the damage the tunnels would cause."

"They can't get the needed permits without the mitigation. How is that 'tunnels neutral?' The governor's own poll shows that the water bond will lose if it is a referendum on the tunnels project. This provision would be a poison pill and would undermine an otherwise valuable bond measure," said Hopcraft.

"We don't want to campaign against the water bond, because we need to put in place sustainable water policies. But we won't sit by and let the governor mislead taxpayers and pretend this funding is not part of the tunnels financing plan. Just read the language being proposed in his bond and put 1 + 1 together. The tunnels are not worth tubing the entire bond, and we urge the legislature to remove this provision and leave the fight over the Delta tunnels for another day," he stated.

In bond provisions labelled as BDCP 'restoration' and 'habitat' funding, the public would pay to purchase so-called 'enhanced environmental flow' water from previously identified districts in the Upper Sacramento River Basin. This would devastate their groundwater supplies. That same water would be diverted into the new BDCP Tunnels before it flows into the heart of the Delta.

RTD also released a document obtained through a Public Information Act request prepared by the State Water Contractors Authority entitled "Stradling Yocca Carlson and Rauthm." The February 2014 document spells out that at this time, there is no financing plan for the BDCP-DHCCP peripheral water tunnels project.

According to the BDCP-DHCCP public draft, "[s]eparate financing plans, funding agreements, legislative authority, and other documents will be needed to enable the use of certain funding sources." The success of the project relies on as yet unfunded $4.1 billion dollars from the California State General Fund [17%] and $3.6 billion from federal taxpayers [14%].

Hopcraft said, "BDCP proponents need this water bond to begin putting the pieces in place to secure the financing for the project. The Brown administration knows this, and is trying to bury this funding in their proposed bond under watershed protection and is misleading the public describing a 'tunnel neutral' bond."

"What can be worse for Californians than not being able to trust the Governor to tell us the truth about what funds will be used for in his proposed water bond during a period of extreme drought?" asked Barrigan-Parrilla.

I have a call into the Governor's Press Office and am currently waiting for a response to Restore the Delta's contention that the Governor's water bond is not "tunnels neutral."

The Governor's Office has to date declined to comment on the specifics of the proposal.

"The Governor is concerned about ongoing debt service and its impact on future budgets," Brown spokesman Jim Evans said in a statement Monday.  

From the governor's proposed water bond:

Chapter X. Watershed Protection and Ecosystem Restoration

79731. This chapter implements activities in action numbers 4 and 9 of the California Water Action Plan.

79732. The sum of one billion four hundred fifty million dollars ($1,450,000,000) shall be available for the purposes of this chapter.

79733. Projects eligible for funds provided in Section 79732 shall be available upon appropriation by the Legislature for projects that protect and restore rivers, lakes and streams, their watersheds and associated land, water, and other natural resources.

79734. Of the funds provided in Section 79732, six hundred fifty million dollars ($650,000,000) shall be available for appropriation to the Natural Resources Agency.

79735. (a) The secretary may directly grant such funds in 79734 to any nonprofit organization, conservancy, public agency, or any tribal government or community for activities and programs that are consistent with and would further existing obligations in state settlement agreements or any authorized amendment thereto that achieve the ecological goals described in the California Water Action Plan.

(b) Funds may be used for projects that help fulfill state obligations to wildlife refuges and wildlife habitat areas under Section 3406(d) of Title 34 of Public Law 102-575, including the construction, retrofitting, and maintenance of water supply infrastructure and the acquisition and conveyance of water supply from willing sellers for water transfers of not less than 20 years, purchases of water rights, or other agreements that result in long-term enhancement of habitat conditions.

79736. (a) Of the funds provided in Section 79732, eight hundred million dollars ($800,000,000) shall be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to the State Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife for vital species, habitat, or ecosystem restoration activities statewide and to achieve the protection of water related species and water quality. The State Board or the Department of Fish and Wildlife may directly grant to any nonprofit organization, conservancy, public agency, or any tribal government or community for activities under this section.

(1) Of the funds provided for in this section, at least $200 million shall be made available for the enhancement of water flows in stream systems statewide. These funds may be used to acquire water if (i) the acquisition involves a long-term water transfer for a term of not less than 20 years, a purchase of water for instream use, or other agreement that results in enhanced stream flow such as reservoir
reoperation or conjunctive use programs, and (ii) the Department of Fish and Wildlife determines that the acquisition, purchase, or agreement and the use of funds will provide fisheries or ecosystem benefits or improvements that are greater than required environmental mitigation measures or compliance obligations. The department shall consult with the State Board prior to making such a determination.

(2) Of the funds provided for in this section, at least $200 million shall be made available for ecosystem restoration for projects statewide. These funds may be used to fund coastal wetland habitat, watershed restoration, including activities to improve forest health, restore mountain meadows, modernize stream crossings, reconnect historical flood plains, install or improve fish screens, provide fish passages, restore river channels, restore or enhance riparian habitat, and remove sediment or trash. In allocating funds for projects pursuant to this paragraph, the State Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife shall consider the location of projects such that funded projects are geographically distributed throughout the state.

(b) Where it will either limit the cost of administering an activity under this chapter, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of an activity under this chapter, or will prevent unnecessary delay in its implementation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall use existing programs or procedures when implementing this section, and shall contract with the State Board for technical assistance and to aid in implementation of this chapter.  

Urgent Action Alert: Tell Jerry Brown Not One Penny for Tunnels Mitigation:

We need to tell Governor Brown we will not sit by and let him mislead taxpayers.Tell him that we do not want ONE PENNY of taxpayer money used for the  environmental water account to be funded for billionaire farmers like Stewart Resnick and Westlands mega-growers.

Tell him that we do NOT ONE PENNY of taxpayer money used for "habitat" that the BDCP admits is experimental and that independent science groups agree will not save fish without sufficient fresh water flows.  

Tell Governor Brown, no tunnels and NOT ONE PENNY for BDCP mitigation.

PLEASE CALL NOW!  916-445-2841!  And keep calling the next seven days if the phone is busy!

SAVE THE DATE!  July 29, 2014 "No Delta Tunnels Rally" on the West Steps of the Capitol! at 11:30 a.m.  Let us know if your group would like a table.  Watch for details!  Buses will be available!

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

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Even BDCP-hired economist wouldn't sign off on Brown's tunnel plan

by: Dan Bacher

Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 12:11:54 PM PDT

In the latest episode in the sordid saga of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan "BDCP" to build the peripheral tunnels, two environmental groups revealed on June 20 that even an economist hired by BDCP officials won't sign off on the controversial project.

Dr. David Sunding, an economist on the faculty of the University of California-Berkeley and a principal with The Brattle Group, said at the recent Continuing Legal Education Water Law Conference in San Diego that "given the financial uncertainties if he were a water agency, he would not sign off" on the BDCP, according to a news release from Restore the Delta (RTD). (http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=06887fa70084fef8e939fef63&id=b6d32e645b&e=120d0c2b69)

RTD and the Southern California Watershed Alliance responded to the Brown Administration's latest claims of alleged benefits from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its huge water export tunnels.

"The recently released statements and documents from BDCP on the costs, and who will pay, are more of the same disingenuous statements that they have been making throughout the life of the project," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta (RTD). "These unsubstantiated claims show how desperate BDCP officials are to greenwash this project for the public. Documents from public record requests, and statements from their own officials and water agency officials, reveal that the project will be closer to $67 billion in today's dollars, before cost over-runs."

Independent University of the Pacific economist Dr. Jeff Michael concludes that the average water ratepayer will end up paying between $40 and $80 per person per year.

"Los Angeles will not receive an additional drop of water, as 2/3 of the water taken from the Delta goes to mega-growers in the Westlands and Kern County Water Districts," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

"Work by the Pacific Institute's Dr. Peter Gleick shows the millions of acre feet of water can be made through conservation, recycling, and storm water capture," said Conner Everts, executive director of the So. California Watershed Alliance. "The truth is that the Metropolitan Water District cannot make money except through reselling water, and thus is the strongest proponent of the BDCP. They will continue to find reasons why conservation measures won't work, and to delay aggressive development of local water projects.

"Dr. David Sunding of the Brattle Group said at the recent Continuing Legal Education Water Law Conference in San Diego that 'given the financial uncertainties, if he were a water agency, he would not sign off' on the BDCP. Neither should we," said Everts.

In other BDCP news, Jerry Cadagan, water activist, pointed out that the most recent BDCP newsletter starts off with a canard in the very first sentence (".... improving how water moves through the" Delta). (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/Libraries/Dynamic_Document_Library/BCDP_ENewsletter_6_18_2014_FINAL.sflb.ashx)

"Isn't one of the fundamental criticisms that BDCP precludes necessary water from moving through the Delta? According to my Funk & Wagnalls, 'through' and 'under' have distinctly different meanings," Cadagan said.  

The BDCP staff responded to Restore the Delta's news release by claiming, "Opponents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) grossly misquoted BDCP consultant Dr. David Sunding." Ironically, in their effort to "set the record straight," the BDCP staff repeats their prior canard that that BDCP is about "improving how water moves through" the Delta, when in fact the purpose of the twin tunnels is to move Sacramento River water under the Delta, not through the estuary! (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/news/news/14-06-20/Setting_the_Record_Straight_on_Sunding_Quotes.aspx)

It is seems that Bay Delta Conservation officials can't get anything "straight." There is no doubt that Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan has no basis in logic, science or fiscal realities. It is nothing other than a "legacy" project for Governor Brown to build as a giant monument to his ego.  

While the BDCP won't create one single new drop of water, the tunnels will take water from Northern California farms, fish and people and give it to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County.

The peripheral tunnels under the Delta will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as pose an enormous threat to salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Caleen Audrey Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, urged people to "please take a minute and add your response to STOP the Brown Water Plans" by going to the Food and Water Watch website: https://secure3.convio.net/fww...

"California should be a salmon state....a state that feeds the world with healthy wild salmon and not water draining MegaAg Monsanto crops that are not healthy," said Sisk.  

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Even BDCP-hired economist wouldn't sign off on Brown's tunnel plan

by: Dan Bacher

Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 12:11:54 PM PDT

In the latest episode in the sordid saga of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan "BDCP" to build the peripheral tunnels, two environmental groups revealed on June 20 that even an economist hired by BDCP officials won't sign off on the controversial project.

Dr. David Sunding, an economist on the faculty of the University of California-Berkeley and a principal with The Brattle Group, said at the recent Continuing Legal Education Water Law Conference in San Diego that "given the financial uncertainties if he were a water agency, he would not sign off" on the BDCP, according to a news release from Restore the Delta (RTD). (http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=06887fa70084fef8e939fef63&id=b6d32e645b&e=120d0c2b69)

RTD and the Southern California Watershed Alliance responded to the Brown Administration's latest claims of alleged benefits from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its huge water export tunnels.

"The recently released statements and documents from BDCP on the costs, and who will pay, are more of the same disingenuous statements that they have been making throughout the life of the project," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta (RTD). "These unsubstantiated claims show how desperate BDCP officials are to greenwash this project for the public. Documents from public record requests, and statements from their own officials and water agency officials, reveal that the project will be closer to $67 billion in today's dollars, before cost over-runs."

Independent University of the Pacific economist Dr. Jeff Michael concludes that the average water ratepayer will end up paying between $40 and $80 per person per year.

"Los Angeles will not receive an additional drop of water, as 2/3 of the water taken from the Delta goes to mega-growers in the Westlands and Kern County Water Districts," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

"Work by the Pacific Institute's Dr. Peter Gleick shows the millions of acre feet of water can be made through conservation, recycling, and storm water capture," said Conner Everts, executive director of the So. California Watershed Alliance. "The truth is that the Metropolitan Water District cannot make money except through reselling water, and thus is the strongest proponent of the BDCP. They will continue to find reasons why conservation measures won't work, and to delay aggressive development of local water projects.

"Dr. David Sunding of the Brattle Group said at the recent Continuing Legal Education Water Law Conference in San Diego that 'given the financial uncertainties, if he were a water agency, he would not sign off' on the BDCP. Neither should we," said Everts.

In other BDCP news, Jerry Cadagan, water activist, pointed out that the most recent BDCP newsletter starts off with a canard in the very first sentence (".... improving how water moves through the" Delta). (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/Libraries/Dynamic_Document_Library/BCDP_ENewsletter_6_18_2014_FINAL.sflb.ashx)

"Isn't one of the fundamental criticisms that BDCP precludes necessary water from moving through the Delta? According to my Funk & Wagnalls, 'through' and 'under' have distinctly different meanings," Cadagan said.  

The BDCP staff responded to Restore the Delta's news release by claiming, "Opponents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) grossly misquoted BDCP consultant Dr. David Sunding." Ironically, in their effort to "set the record straight," the BDCP staff repeats their prior canard that that BDCP is about "improving how water moves through" the Delta, when in fact the purpose of the twin tunnels is to move Sacramento River water under the Delta, not through the estuary! (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/news/news/14-06-20/Setting_the_Record_Straight_on_Sunding_Quotes.aspx)

It is seems that Bay Delta Conservation officials can't get anything "straight." There is no doubt that Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan has no basis in logic, science or fiscal realities. It is nothing other than a "legacy" project for Governor Brown to build as a giant monument to his ego.  

While the BDCP won't create one single new drop of water, the tunnels will take water from Northern California farms, fish and people and give it to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County.

The peripheral tunnels under the Delta will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as pose an enormous threat to salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Caleen Audrey Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, urged people to "please take a minute and add your response to STOP the Brown Water Plans" by going to the Food and Water Watch website: https://secure3.convio.net/fww...

"California should be a salmon state....a state that feeds the world with healthy wild salmon and not water draining MegaAg Monsanto crops that are not healthy," said Sisk.  

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FPPC complaint against Jerry Meral filed amidst culture of corruption

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:29:05 AM PDT

Remember Jerry Meral, the guy who claimed the "Delta cannot be saved" while he was working for the Brown administration on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels? (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/26/1205064/-Five-Congressional-Democrats-call-for-Brown-administration-official-s-resignation)

Well, it appears that Meral has run afoul of the state's laws governing lobbying activities at a time when corruption and conflicts of interest are mushrooming in California politics.

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's rush to build the Peripheral Tunnels to drain the California Delta, on June 13 filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) charging former Brown Administration Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) point man, Jerry Meral, with "illegal lobbying."

"Meral appears to be violating the law prohibiting former administration officials from lobbying within one year and one day of leaving office," according to a statement from Restore the Delta. "Since January 2014, Meral has authored several versions of a Natural Heritage Institute-promoted (NHI) water bond for legislative consideration in 2014, and made direct contacts with staff in numerous legislators' offices to influence legislation."

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD, said, "Our complaint charges Jerry Meral with illegal lobbying during the period when former administration officials are barred from doing so. The revolving door between the Brown Administration, water exporters and groups that would benefit from the tunnels project and its habitat programs just keeps turning."

Meral's attempt to lobby and otherwise influence the state legislature and the agency, and the activities that he managed the day before leaving state employment, is illegal under the following statutes and regulations, according to Barrigan-Parrilla:

• Lobbying within one year of leaving a position in state service violates §87406, Regulations 18746.1 and 18746.2 of the Political Reform Act.

• Leaving state employment and being hired by NHI the following day begs the question of Influencing Prospective Employment (See Section 87407; Regulation 18747). "The legal issue of if he had prior contact with this prospective employer regarding an interview or discussion of an offer of employment seems self-evident and otherwise inexplicable given the timing," she stated.

Barrigan-Parrilla said Meral has been observed visiting the Legislature to "promote" his versions of the bond and the BDCP. Meral's bond includes specific funding for BDCP-related San Joaquin Delta conservation projects. Meral wants funding removed and restricted from levee projects, which constitutes lobbying to change the outcome of existing proposed legislation for the benefit of BDCP.

"It appears that Meral did not renew his lobbying certification, complete his ethics training, and has failed to timely file disclosures. Given that Meral is aware of these procedures from his previous two-year stint as a lobbyist, immediate corrective action and the maximum penalty should occur," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

The potential financial incentive for NHI's ability to successfully lobby or influence Resources, DWR and the Legislature is massive. Billions of dollars are at stake with the BDCP for NHI and other non-profit organizations as defined in the NHI proposed water bond, she noted.

NHI proposed Sections 79740 and 79742 provide for direct and indirect funding for potential NHI-affiliated habitat projects of no more than $1.2 billion, directly to non-profits through grants and through pass through monies managed and distributed by Resources/DWR, and the Delta Conservancy; and, even more funding from DWR's California Water Commission, according to the group.

In his February 23, 2014 letter from NHI, Meral specifically directs that the Delta Protection Commission "follow the provisions described in this letter" regarding wildlife habitat and levee funding from a proposed new special district, which have historically received significant funding from DWR under the subventions program.

Barrigan-Parrilla said Meral appears to be demanding a de facto "cut of the action" from the new district for his BDCP habitat projects. Meral also lobbies for the state water contractors (SWC) to be paid back from supposed overpayments under the Davis-Dohlwig Act, also in an effort to promote the ability of the SWC to pay for BDCP.

Jerry Meral served as Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources for the State of California from 2011 to December 31, 2013. He acted as Director of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels during this time.

On January 1, 2014, Meral accepted a position as Director of the California Water Program for the Natural Heritage Institute (NHI).

"The NHI currently has direct ties to the BDCP, direct and indirect financial benefit from its completion, and continues to lobby for its funding and implementation, as evidenced by the documentation that can be found at http://restorethedelta.org/?p=... according to RTD.

Upon his acceptance of the position, NHI issued a statement on their website announcing that Meral was representing NHI on California water issues, specifically including the BDCP. In this statement, the NGO touted itself as "an early and strenuous proponent of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan" (http://yubanet.com/california/Natural-Heritage-Institute-Hires-Jerry-Meral.php#.U6G2i93DyRo)

"NHI finds the evidence overwhelming that the delta cannot serve the dual functions of maintaining endangered species and water supply reliability without a massive habitat restoration program and improvements to the water diversion and conveyance infrastructure that can reduce the conflicts between these uses," the NHI stated.

Not only has the NHI has been an "early and strenuous" cheerleader of the BDCP, but the organization has long championed water markets and water transfers that have privatized water and transformed a public trust asset, belonging to all citizens, into a "profit center to enrich special interests," according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). 



"NHI also developed the concept that became the Environmental Water Account, which enabled water speculators to sell public trust water back to the public at vast profit," said Jennings

This is not the first time that Mr. Meral has engaged in questionable practices. In 2002, Meral authored Proposition 51, an initiative that the Sacramento Bee called "California's most corrupt initiative." The Bee also called Meral's group "a morally bankrupt environmental lobby." (Editorial: No on Proposition 51: stop California's most corrupt initiative, September 29, 2002). (http://digital.library.ucla.edu/websites/2002_998_063/beeed.htm)

The Bee editors wrote, "But financial irresponsibility is the least of this measure's sins. It is fundamentally corrupt. It's an unapologetic example of 'pay to play.' To get this measure on the ballot and pass it, Gerald Meral, executive director of PCL, studded it with projects for developers and groups willing to contribute to the campaign."

"For example, Tejon Ranch Co. would get $5 million in improvements on an Interstate 5 interchange to support its distribution center in Kern County; it contributed $65,000. Hillwood Development Corp. would get $30 million worth of railroad grade crossings near its proposed distribution center at former Norton Air Force Base in San Bernadino; it has given $150,000. The list of projects tied to contributions goes on and on. We'll be detailing some of the scummiest deals here in coming days," they added.

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

The revolving door between corporations, government and NGOs

The FPPC complaint against Jerry Meral takes place in context of the larger picture of the corruption of California environmental politics in recent years.

The revolving door between corporate interests, water contractors and state government swung wide-open last September when Governor Jerry Brown appointed 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).

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 agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project.

And Moon's appointment was just one of the many examples of the revolving door between corporations and state government that have infested politics in California during the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations. These examples include:

• 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)

• DWR's hiring of Susan Ramos "on loan" from the Westlands Water District, 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 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 alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California and served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-Top-Censored-Environmental-Story-of-2012-Marine-guardian-lobbies-for-offshore-oil-drilling-fracking.php)

• The failure of Katherine Hart Johns, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board member, to report her husband's separate property interest in his lobbying firm, California Resource Strategies, Inc., on her 2006, 2007, and 2008 annual Statements of Economic Interests. The California Fair Political Practices Commission fined Hart Johns only $600 for this overt conflict of interest, in a classic example of how violators of state ethics and environmental laws often get off with a mere "slap on the wrist." (http://www.sacbee.com/2010/03/21/2622315/water-pollution-regulator-failed.html).

And of course, we can't forget the three Senators - Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ron Calderon of Montebello and Rod Wright of Inglewood - who were suspended from the State Senate with pay this March. Senators Yee and Calderon were indicted in separate federal corruption cases, while Senator Wright will be sentenced on July 21 on criminal charges that he lied about where he lived when he ran for office in 2008. (http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/rod-wright/#storylink=cpy)

Nor can we overlook one of the greatest scandals to hit environmental politics in recent years - the 10 month federal prison sentence that a federal judge in May imposed upon 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, 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 (18U.S.C §§ 371 and 1163) in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond. According to court documents, LeValley submitted more than 75 false invoices between 2007 and 2010 in payment for "work" on northern spotted owl surveys that was never performed. The link to the indictment is available at: http://noyonews.net/wp-content...

Restore the Delta's FPPC complaint proceeds forward as the Brown administration fast-tracks the $67 billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build twin tunnels to export water to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The peripheral tunnels under the Delta will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and fish species, as well as pose an enormous threat to salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Background on Meral and the BDCP 


Jerry Meral became the focus of a huge controversy when he acknowledged on April 15, 2013 that "BDCP is not about, and has never been about saving the Delta.The Delta cannot be saved."

He made his controversial comments while speaking with Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) in a private conversation after a meeting with Northern California Indian Tribes, according to Restore the Delta's "Delta Flows" newsletter (http://www.restorethedelta.org/or-is-it-the-point/) 



After Meral made the revealing, candid comments, five Congressional Democrats - George Miller, Mike Thompson, Jerry McNerney, Doris Matsui and Anna Eshoo - called for Meral's immediate resignation. (http://www.fishsniffer.com/blogs/details/congressional-democrats-call-for-brown-administration-officials-resignation/) 


"Meral's statement, if accurately reported, suggests the Brown Administration intends to explicitly violate the established statutory co-equal goals of ecosystem restoration in the Bay-Delta and water reliability throughout the state," according to the Representatives' statement. "This fuels speculation that the Administration's plan, if unchanged, will devastate the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the communities that rely on it, a concern that Northern California Lawmakers and other stakeholders have voiced throughout the process." 



The widely-criticized plan proposes to construct three new intakes in the north Delta along the Sacramento River about 35 miles north of the existing South Delta pumping plants. Two 35-mile long twin tunnels would carry the water underground to the existing pumping plants that feed canals stretching hundreds of miles to the south and west. 



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From Governor Moonbeam to "Big Oil Brown"

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:40:50 AM PDT

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

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

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

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

The group has also created a spoof ad about "Jerry Brown's Frackwater Cologne."

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

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

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

"With the signing of Senate Bill 4, California has the toughest regulations of hydraulic fracturing and other energy production technologies in the country," said Reheis-Boyd. "While SB 4's requirements went significantly farther than the petroleum industry felt was necessary, we now have an environmental platform on which California can look toward the opportunity to responsibly develop the enormous potential energy resource contained in the Monterey Shale formation
Brown signed the bill after receiving at least $2,014,570.22 from fossil fuel interests since his race for Attorney General in 2006. (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/frackwater/)

In the 2014 election cycle, four oil companies have contributed a total of $161,000 to the Brown campaign to date, according to Oil Change Internation. Occidental Petroleum has given $27,200, the maximum legally allowed. Edison and Chevron have both contributed $27,200 twice, once for the primary election and another for the general election. Phillips 66 has nearly maxed out with a $25,000 contribution. Fossil fuel industry contributions in 2010 Governor's race were $198,451.22.

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

In addition, fossil fuel industry interests have donated $355,000 to Brown's two Oakland charter schools since 2006. In 2013 alone, Occidental Petroleum gave The Oakland Military Institute $150,000 at Brown's behest.

Brown backs carbon trading, Delta death tunnels

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brown has also rushed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, a $67 billion boondoggle that will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and numerous other fish species, as well as imperiing salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. The plan would take large tracts of fertile Delta farmland out of production in order to irrigate drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, all under the guise of "habitat restoration."

Every scientific panel, ranging from the Independent Delta Science Board to the National Academy of Sciences, has criticized the flawed "science" behind the twin tunnel plan. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/05/20/1300714/-Delta-Independent-Science-Board-Slams-Brown-s-Tunnel-Plan)

Brown administration exported record amounts of Delta water

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

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

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

And if that wasn't bad enough, the Brown and Obama administration's anti-fish and pro-agribusiness policies have resulted in pushing Delta fish populations closer to extinction. A Delta fish survey released by the California Department of Wildlife in January 2014 confirms the continuing collapse of the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

The 2013 indices (a relative number of abundance) for Delta smelt, a federal and state endangered species, and American shad were the second lowest in the 46 years of the survey. The striped bass index was tied for third lowest, while the longfin smelt and threadfin shad indices were the eighth and fifth lowest, respectively, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. (http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/21219-delta-fish-survey-reveals-an-ecosystem-in-collapse

Oil lobbyist-overseen marine "protection"

Brown has also forged ahead with one of the worst environmental programs of the Schwarzenegger regime, the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. In one of the most egregious conflicts of interests in modern California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-five-inconvenient-truths-about-the-mlpa-initiative/)

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

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

Much of the fracking took place while the Western States Petroleum Association president was overseeing the creation of the oil industry-friendly "marine protected areas." Does anybody think there might have been a conflict of interest here?

Brown's relentless march to environmental destruction

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

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

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

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

• "Theme Park" Wetlands: The Department of Fish and Wildlife under the Jerry Brown administration is working with the Annenberg Foundation to bulldoze a section of the Ballona Wetlands to build an interpretive center and help with the "restoration" of the land around the center.

As I have documented in article after article, Brown, rather than a being an "environmental leader" as some proclaim, appears to be on a relentless march to the destruction of fish, water and the environment. He has definitely earned the nickname of "Big Oil Brown."

For more information about Brown's abysmal environmental policies, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20... or http://www.alternet.org/enviro...  

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Fracking moratorium bill defeated by oil industry lobby

by: Dan Bacher

Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:40:33 PM PDT

The California State Senate failed to pass SB 1132, legislation authored by Senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno that would have stopped hydraulic fracturing and other dangerous well stimulation methods while the state studied their risks.  

The vote failed with a tie of 16 to 16, with 8 votes not recorded. The 16 aye votes were Beall, Corbett, De León, DeSaulnier, Evans, Hancock, Jackson, Leno, Lieu, Liu, Mitchell, Monning, Padilla, Pavley, Steinberg and Wolk

The 16 no votes were Anderson, Berryhill, Cannella, Correa, Fuller, Gaines, Galgiani, Hernandez, Huff, Knight, Morrell, Nielsen, Torres, Vidak, Walters, Wyland. The 8 votes not recorded include absentions by Block, Lara, Hill, Hueso and Roth. Three Senators - Calderon, Wright and Yee - can't and didn't vote because they are suspended and were not present for the vote.  

The defeat of the legislation was undoubtedly due to the huge amounts of money dumped into lobbying the Legislature by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, and oil companies.

WSPA alone spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/23365-californias-big-oil-dirty-dozen) You can bet that a good chunk of this money spent so far this year was spent on stopping Senate Bill 1132.  

The statewide coalition Californians Against Fracking issued the following statement:

"Despite polls showing a majority of Californians in favor of banning fracking, today the California Senate failed to pass SB 1132 to place a moratorium on fracking. The vote is disappointing but not completely unexpected given that the oil industry has spent a whopping $15 million on lobbying activities to defeat the bill and buy influence in Sacramento.

State lawmakers will continue to face growing concern about fracking pollution from voters in their communities. Californians Against Fracking calls on Governor Brown to protect California's water, agriculture, public health and climate by declaring a moratorium on fracking now. If Governor Brown is serious about fighting climate change and its severe impacts, including droughts and fires, then he must show real leadership and stop the fracking now."

The statement was issued on behalf of Californians Against Fracking, 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, CREDO Action, Environment California, Food & Water Watch and Oil Change International.  

As the Friday deadline for moving legislation from California's Senate to the Assembly approaches, Senator Holly J. Mitchell's bill to set a moratorium on fracking for oil in the state still needed three votes to pass when the Senate recessed Wednesday night, according to a statement from Senator Mitchell's Office.

Mitchell said the SB 1132 elicited "spirited floor debate" before the failure of several senators to vote on the bill left it without the 21 votes needed to advance to the Assembly. Although a motion for reconsideration allows Mitchell to bring the bill up for vote again, unless at least three senators cast favorable votes by Friday, the bill dies for the current legislative session.

"Last year our efforts to enact a moratorium got as far as an Assembly committee, and this year to the floor of the Senate, with more 'yes' than 'no' votes," noted Senator Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who carried a similar bill, AB 1323, while serving in the Assembly. "We have the momentum, this issue's gone viral nationally, and it's just a matter of time before the dangers of fracking prompt people to put it on pause until its safety can be established."  

"When the impacts on the public of a for-profit endeavor are unknown, we try it out first in minority neighborhoods - assuming low vigilance and the need to bring in jobs makes safety irrelevant," said the Senator. "But we've put big industry on notice: That ploy won't fly forever. People's neighborhoods aren't fodder for fracking, environmental justice must come, and one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!"  

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, celebrated the defeat of SB 1132, by stating, "With SB 1132 behind us, let's now focus on SB 4 implementation." (https://www.wspa.org/blog/post/sb-1132-behind-us-let's-now-focus-sb-4-implementation)

"Today's defeat of Senate Bill 1132, legislation that would have imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation technologies, clears a path for a concerted and collaborative effort to fully implement new statewide regulations embodied in Senate Bill 4," she said.

"The SB 4 regulations put into place a robust set of monitoring, disclosure, testing, land use and research requirements that ensure hydraulic fracturing in California is conducted safely and without harm to the environment.  But there is still much to be done to finalize these new regulations and the petroleum industry is going to be a constructive partner in getting them accomplished," Reheis-Boyd claimed.

The oil industry is most powerful corporate lobby in California. A ground breaking report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause reveals that Big Oil's combined spending on lobbying and political campaigns in Sacramento amounts to a stunning $266.9 million over the past 15 years. This massive spending enables the oil industry to effectively buy the votes of many State Assembly Members and Senators.  (http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/14/how-big-oil-bought-sacramento/)

But the oil industry exerts its influence not just through spending enormous sums on lobbying and contributions to political campaigns, but by serving on state and federal government panels.

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in California environmental history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as sitting on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

It is no surprise that the alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" created under Reheis-Boyd's "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and tribal gathering.

It is also no surprise that the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California ocean waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd and MLPA Initiative advocates were greenwashing one of the most corrupt environmental processes in California history.    

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Fracking moratorium bill defeated by oil industry lobby

by: Dan Bacher

Fri May 30, 2014 at 12:40:33 PM PDT

The California State Senate failed to pass SB 1132, legislation authored by Senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno that would have stopped hydraulic fracturing and other dangerous well stimulation methods while the state studied their risks.  

The vote failed with a tie of 16 to 16, with 8 votes not recorded. The 16 aye votes were Beall, Corbett, De León, DeSaulnier, Evans, Hancock, Jackson, Leno, Lieu, Liu, Mitchell, Monning, Padilla, Pavley, Steinberg and Wolk

The 16 no votes were Anderson, Berryhill, Cannella, Correa, Fuller, Gaines, Galgiani, Hernandez, Huff, Knight, Morrell, Nielsen, Torres, Vidak, Walters, Wyland. The 8 votes not recorded include absentions by Block, Lara, Hill, Hueso and Roth. Three Senators - Calderon, Wright and Yee - can't and didn't vote because they are suspended and were not present for the vote.  

The defeat of the legislation was undoubtedly due to the huge amounts of money dumped into lobbying the Legislature by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, and oil companies.

WSPA alone spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/23365-californias-big-oil-dirty-dozen) You can bet that a good chunk of this money spent so far this year was spent on stopping Senate Bill 1132.  

The statewide coalition Californians Against Fracking issued the following statement:

"Despite polls showing a majority of Californians in favor of banning fracking, today the California Senate failed to pass SB 1132 to place a moratorium on fracking. The vote is disappointing but not completely unexpected given that the oil industry has spent a whopping $15 million on lobbying activities to defeat the bill and buy influence in Sacramento.

State lawmakers will continue to face growing concern about fracking pollution from voters in their communities. Californians Against Fracking calls on Governor Brown to protect California's water, agriculture, public health and climate by declaring a moratorium on fracking now. If Governor Brown is serious about fighting climate change and its severe impacts, including droughts and fires, then he must show real leadership and stop the fracking now."

The statement was issued on behalf of Californians Against Fracking, 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, CREDO Action, Environment California, Food & Water Watch and Oil Change International.  

As the Friday deadline for moving legislation from California's Senate to the Assembly approaches, Senator Holly J. Mitchell's bill to set a moratorium on fracking for oil in the state still needed three votes to pass when the Senate recessed Wednesday night, according to a statement from Senator Mitchell's Office.

Mitchell said the SB 1132 elicited "spirited floor debate" before the failure of several senators to vote on the bill left it without the 21 votes needed to advance to the Assembly. Although a motion for reconsideration allows Mitchell to bring the bill up for vote again, unless at least three senators cast favorable votes by Friday, the bill dies for the current legislative session.

"Last year our efforts to enact a moratorium got as far as an Assembly committee, and this year to the floor of the Senate, with more 'yes' than 'no' votes," noted Senator Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who carried a similar bill, AB 1323, while serving in the Assembly. "We have the momentum, this issue's gone viral nationally, and it's just a matter of time before the dangers of fracking prompt people to put it on pause until its safety can be established."  

"When the impacts on the public of a for-profit endeavor are unknown, we try it out first in minority neighborhoods - assuming low vigilance and the need to bring in jobs makes safety irrelevant," said the Senator. "But we've put big industry on notice: That ploy won't fly forever. People's neighborhoods aren't fodder for fracking, environmental justice must come, and one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!"  

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, celebrated the defeat of SB 1132, by stating, "With SB 1132 behind us, let's now focus on SB 4 implementation." (https://www.wspa.org/blog/post/sb-1132-behind-us-let's-now-focus-sb-4-implementation)

"Today's defeat of Senate Bill 1132, legislation that would have imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation technologies, clears a path for a concerted and collaborative effort to fully implement new statewide regulations embodied in Senate Bill 4," she said.

"The SB 4 regulations put into place a robust set of monitoring, disclosure, testing, land use and research requirements that ensure hydraulic fracturing in California is conducted safely and without harm to the environment.  But there is still much to be done to finalize these new regulations and the petroleum industry is going to be a constructive partner in getting them accomplished," Reheis-Boyd claimed.

The oil industry is most powerful corporate lobby in California. A ground breaking report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause reveals that Big Oil's combined spending on lobbying and political campaigns in Sacramento amounts to a stunning $266.9 million over the past 15 years. This massive spending enables the oil industry to effectively buy the votes of many State Assembly Members and Senators.  (http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/14/how-big-oil-bought-sacramento/)

But the oil industry exerts its influence not just through spending enormous sums on lobbying and contributions to political campaigns, but by serving on state and federal government panels.

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in California environmental history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as sitting on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

It is no surprise that the alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" created under Reheis-Boyd's "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and tribal gathering.

It is also no surprise that the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California ocean waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd and MLPA Initiative advocates were greenwashing one of the most corrupt environmental processes in California history.    

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Delta Tunnels Opponents Offer Senator Feinstein A Better Water Solution

by: Dan Bacher

Tue May 20, 2014 at 15:40:47 PM PDT

In discussing her agribusiness-friendly drought relief legislation, S 2198, Senator Dianne Feinstein recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that environmentalists have "never been helpful to me in producing good water policy.'"

"I have not had a single constructive view from environmentalists of how to provide water when there is no snowpack," said Feinstein in her interview. (http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Feinstein-Environmentalists-no-help-on-5481560.php)

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, on Monday announced the release of  a new video in response to Feinstein's false claim that environmentalists have "never been helpful" to her in solving California's water resource challenges.

Restore the Delta's storyboard video, http://youtu.be/Ml_pCr2uMaE, describes what water efficiency would accomplish for the Delta and for meeting California's water and jobs needs. RTD, along with the Environmental Water Caucus in their Responsible Water Exports Plan, has long proposed  sustainable water water policies.

"Sen. Feinstein is carrying water in S 2198 for huge industrial mega-growers who  have planted thousands of additional acres of almonds on dry lands in Westlands  and Kern Water Districts in the midst of our three-year dry spell," said Barbara  Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. "Sen. Feinstein's response to this  unsustainable overplanting of permanent crops on unsustainable lands without their  own water supply is to strip sustainable farms and fisheries of protections so these  huge growers can water their unwise plantings."

"During times of drought, people think about big water projects as the solution because most people have seen large canals or dams that hold and convey  water," she said. "We decided to create a storyboard that shows what water efficiency looks like with easy to understand facts so that people can learn why water efficiency is  the better value for each dollar spent on water infrastructure."

"The water efficiency  story will be turned into a feature video in the months ahead -- and it will tell the  story of how water efficiency throughout California is the solution for the Delta  and the citizens of California," Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.

The video is here: http://youtu.be/Ml_pCr2uMaE
 

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Big Oil lobbyist praises EDF for "balanced approach" to fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Fri May 16, 2014 at 17:58:41 PM PDT

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, has praised the supposedly "balanced approach" to fracking advocated by the Environmental Defense Fund and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the recipient of millions of dollars of Walton Family Foundation money every year, is a supporter of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking for natural gas and oil. The group claims fracking would provide "measurable environmental benefits" in spite of the enormous harm that fracking poses to human health, groundwater and surface water supplies, and fish and wildlife populations.

EDF is no stranger to corporate greenwashing campaigns, since the corporate "environmental" NGO is also a big backer of "catch shares" or "catch and trade" programs that privatize fisheries. These programs for the 1 percent result in fisheries being transferred from traditional fishing families into fewer, increasingly corporate hands.The Walton Family Foundation donated $8,500,000 to EDF to promote catch shares in 2013 and $7,800,000 in 2012 (http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/about/2012-grant-report#environment.)

Reheis-Boyd, in her latest blog on the Western States Petroleum Association website (http://www.wspa.org), applauded Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund, and Michael Bloomberg for calling for "sensible rulemaking" and "measurable regulations" on fracking in their April 29 op-ed in the New York Times.

It is crucial to understand that the Western States Petroleum Association that Reheis-Boyd heads is the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento. The organization spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. (http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/23365-californias-big-oil-dirty-dozen)

Reheis-Boyd said:

"In an April 29 opinion editorial published in the New York Times, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) joined former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in advocating for a balanced approach to hydraulic fracturing:

'The shale gas boom is indeed lowering energy costs, creating new jobs, boosting domestic manufacturing and delivering some measurable environmental benefits as well. Unlike coal, natural gas produces minuscule amounts of such toxic air pollutants as sulfur dioxide and mercury when burned - so the transition from coal- to natural-gas-fired electricity generation is improving overall air quality, which improves public health. There's also a potential climate benefit, since natural-gas-fired plants emit roughly half the carbon dioxide of coal-fired ones.'

We agree. Krupp and Bloomberg also called for sensible rulemaking and measurable regulations that protect the environment while allowing the petroleum industry to capitalize on an historic moment in our nation's economy. Despite the emotions surrounding hydraulic fracturing, the American energy renaissance, led by the increase in domestic shale oil and gas production, can move forward safely."

Reheis-Boyd then used her blog piece to greenwash Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, the green light to fracking bill in California, claiming that "California is leading and innovating this entire discussion."

The vast majority of conservation and environmental justice groups strongly opposed Senate Bill 4 because it would create a clear path to expanded fracking in California. However, the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and League of Conservation Voters supported the legislation until the last minute - withdrawing their support only after the oil industry added "poison pill" amendments to further weaken the badly-flawed legislation.

Reheis Boyd also reiterated oil industry disinformation claiming that the Pavley bill created the "most stringent" fracking regulations in the nation:

"Senate Bill 4 regulations, passed at the end of last year's session, are the most stringent hydraulic fracturing regulations in the nation. The bill requires companies to obtain a permit from the state, notify surrounding landowners, conduct pre and post fracturing water tests, disclose all chemicals used in the process, conduct regular pressure tests on wells to ensure well integrity and submit extensive water management plans.

This week's New York Times opinion editorial is a good reminder we must finally agree to embrace balanced policies that can achieve strict environmental protection, economic growth, and increased domestic energy security."

Reheis-Boyd is extremely hypocritical for saying she supports "balanced" policies and "strict environmental protection," based upon her dubious record as the Chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)

She and her collaborators on the task force made sure that the questionable "marine protected areas" created in Southern California under her "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering. Reheis-Boyd, state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates ensured that these alleged "marine protected areas" were good for big oil and ocean industrialists - and bad for fishermen, tribal gatherers and the public trust.

Reheis-Boyd also "served" on the MLPA initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create so-called "marine protected areas" on the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast and she currently sits on a federal "marine protection" panel, NOAA's 20 member Marine Protected Areas Advisory Committee. As she served on these panels, the oil industry engaged in a frenzy of environmentally destructive fracking operations off the Southern California coast, as revealed in an Associated Press and Freedom of Information Act investigation last year.

The corrupt process that Reheis-Boyd oversaw created no take "state marine reserves" that violate the traditional gathering rights of the Yurok Tribe and other California Indian Tribes to harvest seaweed, mussels and fish, as they have done for thousands of years. The privately funded process also rejected numerous requests by Yurok Tribe scientists and lawyers to present scientific studies that countered the terminally flawed and incomplete "science," based on flawed assumptions, that drove the MLPA Initiative. (http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2011/07/15/lop_yurok_6-29_11.pdf)

As Frankie Joe Myers, Yurok Tribe member and Coastal Justice Coalition organizer, said before a direct action protest against the MLPA Initiative in Fort Bragg in July 2010, "The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism. It doesn't recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists." (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/24/18654645.php)

"Whether it is their intention or not, what the Marine Life Protection Act does to tribes is it systematically decimates our ability to be who we are," emphasized Myers. "That is the definition of cultural genocide.

To make make matters even worse, Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Science Advisory Team - the same controversial state panel that inexplicably rejected the Yurok Tribe's science studies - will be sentenced on May 20 on a single federal charge of conspiracy to embezzle nearly $1 million from the Yurok Tribe!( theava.com/archives/28651)

On February 11, LeValley, of Mad River Biologists, pled guilty to the charge in federal court. Court documents reveal that LeValley conspired with Roland Raymond, former Yurok Tribe forestry chair, to embezzle the funds through a complex scheme of fake and inflated invoices and payments for spotted owl surveys that LeValley and his organization never performed. The link to the federal indictment is available at: http://noyonews.net/wp-content...

More recently, the industry that Reheis-Boyd lobbies for engaged in over 100 violations of California's new public disclosure rules for fracking and other dangerous oil production methods. The violations were uncovered by a Center for Biological Diversity analysis of records from the state, the oil industry and South Coast air quality regulators. (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/fracking-04-30-2014.html)

In a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, the Center revealed that state regulators with the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources have failed to disclose legally mandated reports for 47 frack jobs and notices for more than 100 uses of other risky oil production techniques.

"This lack of disclosure underscores the failure of current regulations and the need for strong action that will protect public health and safety and the environment," the letter says.

However, these overt violations of California environmental law are just a small taste of the massive violations of environmental laws that will take place if Reheis-Boyd and her collaborators are allowed to proceed with their plans to expand fracking operations in California.

If the oil industry and Governor Jerry Brown have their way, groundwater and surface supplies will be polluted with numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene. According to the Center, evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals are making their way into aquifers and drinking water.

Human health, endangered Central Valley salmon, steelhead and other fish populations and many wildlife species will be imperiled by increasing water pollution in California, as well as by the increasing use of water for fracking that is badly needed for people, farms and fish during the current drought.

In addition, air pollution caused by fracking contributes to the risk of asthma, cancer, and other health problems in people living near fracked wells, according to a Colorado School of Public Health study. (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/20/local/la-me-gs-fracking-increases-air-pollution-health-risks-to-residents-20120320)

There is no doubt that we must completely reject the false claims by the oil industry, the Environmental Defense Fund and Michael Bloomberg that fracking can be conducted in a "safe" and "sensible" manner that "protects" the environment. We must call on Governor Brown and other state officials to ban fracking now!

We must also call on Brown and state and federal officials to halt the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the biggest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. The tunnels will provide water for fracking and steam injection operations used to extract oil in Kern County, as well as for corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California water agencies. For more information about the twin tunnels, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.  

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Internal memo reveals 'the fix is in' on Delta tunnel plan

by: Dan Bacher

Sun May 11, 2014 at 15:53:59 PM PDT

DWR creates two new divisions to implement BDCP  

Advocates for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Central Valley salmon and openness and transparency in government have often stated that the "fix is in" on Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnel plan.

Their contention that the process is rigged and unjustly manipulated by state officials and water contractors was only confirmed in a May 6 memorandum sent to Department of Water Resources (DWR) staff from DWR Director Mark Cowin indicating that the Brown administration is stepping up its efforts to fast-track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

Cowin said two new organizations will be established within the agency to implement the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan - a DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (DCE) - beginning June 1.

"While many milestones remain before a positive decision to implement BDCP is achieved, DWR must begin to prepare to carry out its critical role in the implementation phase of this important project, should a conclusion be reached to move forward," said Cowin. "To this end, we are establishing two new DWR organizations beginning June 1, 2014 - the DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (known as the DCE)."

The DCE will constitute a new joint powers authority overseen by a Program Manager under contract to the Department of Water Resources and staffed by representatives from DWR, the Metropolitan Water District and other water agencies, and private contractors. It will give water contractors who would benefit from the tunnel plan a key role in the construction planning for the project.

According to Cowin, "The organizational structure and staffing of the DCE is envisioned to be somewhat unique in comparison to a typical DWR organization. It will be managed by a Program Manager under contract to DWR, and will be staffed by highly qualified individuals from within DWR, participating regional and local public water agencies, and private consulting firms. As part of DWR, it will have the capacity to issue contracts for consulting services as well as construction, using DWR's authority and in keeping with all applicable State contracting statutes."

Delta advocates criticized the memo for being the latest in a series of actions taken by the Brown administration to rush the construction of the peripheral tunnels before permitting of the process is complete - and before any financial plan or agreement to pay for the tunnels, estimated to cost $67 billion or more, is in place.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, said, "Permitting is not complete. There is no financial plan or agreement. The Implementing Agreement will not be released to the public until after the public comment period on the BDCP and its EIR/S is complete."

"Yet, DWR is moving forward to implement the project?" she asked. "They are trying to steamroll Delta communities which will be harmed by the impacts, and the people of California who will be stuck paying the bill for the boondoggle."

Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), after reading the memorandum, said, "It sounds to me like DWR is going ahead full steam, facts or lack of facts be damned. They have no idea what the project looks like because they have not been able to do the drilling tests because the Delta landowners have won their lawsuits. So they (DWR) have no idea what problems they may face with tunnel construction; they have no real idea of the costs...only guesses."

"It sounds to me like the same thing the Third District Court said about paper water in our Monterey Agreement case...they are going on 'a wish and a prayer!'" she stated.

"And where in the State Water Project (SWP) contracts does it allow DWR to collect funds from the contractors for this BDCP/Twin Tunnel planning, as this is not maintenance but a huge new project?" asked Krieger.

Nancy Vogel, Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Water Resources and former reporter for the Sacramento Bee and LA Times, confirmed that Cowin had sent out the memo, but couldn't answer several questions posed to her by the Central Valley Business Times (CVBT).

The CVBT reported, "Nancy Vogel, chief spokeswoman for DWR, says she does not know how much of the existing DWR budget, including money and staff, will be diverted to the two offices; what prompted the decision to move forward with the two offices or how many additional staff have been or will be hired to staff the offices. (http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=25822)

As the Brown administration continues to rush the construction of the twin tunnels, opposition to the project by a coalition of family farmers, Indian Tribes, fishing groups, environmental organizations, Delta residents and elected officials continues to grow.

The public review and comment period for the Draft BDCP and BDCP Draft EIR/EIS will run through June 13, 2014. Restore the Delta will host a "Public Comment Party" to complete more than one hundred citizens comments against the environmentally destructive peripheral tunnels on May 13, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Reserve at Spanos Park, Mt. Diablo Room 6301 W. Eight Mile Rd. in Stockton.

Refreshments will be provided. RSVP and letter writing information, language translators or childcare can be arranged: contact stina [at] restorethedelta.org or call (209) 475-9550. (RSVP is encouraged, but not required.)

The water diverted from the Sacramento River through the tunnels would go to corporate agribusiness interests farming toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County, and Southern California water agencies. The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Below is the memo:

State of California California Natural Resources Agency

M e m o r a n d u m

Date: May 6, 2014

To: All DWR Employees

From: Department of Water Resources

Subject: Establishment of the DWR BDCP Office and the DHCCP Design and

Construction Enterprise

As many of you are keenly aware, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has been deeply engaged in the development of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) since 2006. Several DWR offices and divisions are currently working on BDCP, either as part of the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) or as part of the planning and analysis of the overall BDCP program.

We are approaching a critical juncture for BDCP as the planning phase reaches completion, State and federal resource agencies consider permitting decisions, and a more detailed financing plan is developed. While many milestones remain before a positive decision to implement BDCP is achieved, DWR must begin to prepare to carry out its critical role in the implementation phase of this important project, should a conclusion be reached to move forward. To this end, we are establishing two new DWR organizations beginning June 1, 2014 - the DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (known as the DCE).

First, a new BDCP Office will be established within the Executive Division. The initial focus will be the completion of the conservation plan while providing early coordination and transition to implementation of BDCP conservation measures 2 through 22, including, for example, tidal marsh restoration, Yolo Bypass fishery enhancement and urban stormwater treatment. This team will work to plan, manage, and integrate coordination among DWR's various divisions involved with development of BDCP and initiate preliminary evaluations needed to implement BDCP. In addition, this team will play an important role in agency and stakeholder engagement needed to complete the plan. To help facilitate the completion of BDCP, including the needed close coordination with the Governor's Office and the State administration, the office will initially be led by the Chief Deputy Director.

This office will lay the foundation for the implementation of BDCP, and once the BDCP is finalized, that work will be merged into the formal BDCP Implementation Office as is defined in Chapter 7 of the BDCP. This organization will likely be a multi-agency effort involving DWR or supported by DWR.

Second, a Delta Conveyance Facility Design and Construction Enterprise (DCE) will be established within the Department as a new program to support activities associated with design and construction of conservation measure 1, the Delta Conveyance facilities. The mission of this enterprise is intended to be limited to this singular focus, and the life span of the enterprise will be limited to the time necessary to complete construction of these facilities. The organizational structure and staffing of the DCE is envisioned to be somewhat unique in comparison to a typical DWR organization. It will be managed by a Program Manager under contract to DWR, and will be staffed by highly qualified individuals from within DWR, participating regional and local public water agencies, and private consulting firms. As part of DWR, it will have the capacity to issue contracts for consulting services as well as construction, using DWR's authority and in keeping with all applicable State contracting statutes. Initially the DCE will be located in the Bonderson Building, but it is anticipated that it will move to another location to accommodate the growth needed to complete the design and construction of the conveyance facilities.

Undoubtedly, a number of questions will arise about how these two structures will mesh with our existing organization at DWR, and we will be working with you all to elicit your questions and develop solutions together. I look forward to your continued support as we enter into this exciting phase of the BDCP which will shape the future of Delta ecological restoration and water project operations.

Mark W. Cowin

Director

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Big Oil spokesman admits water use will rise with expanded fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Thu May 08, 2014 at 08:35:41 AM PDT

Oil and gas industry representatives constantly like to talk about the "small amounts" of water that the industry currently uses in fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas of California.

However, on April 28, Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former press spokesman for the Westlands Water District, admitted in an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) what the anti-fracking community has known for a long time: Once they figure out how to make the Monterey Shale economically viable, the water usage will ramp up significantly.

Here is a partial transcript of Lauren Sommer's interview with Hull, courtesy of the Stop Fracking California State facebook page:

TUPPER HULL: In California today, hydraulic fracturing uses very small amounts of water.

SOMMER: Tupper Hull is with the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry group. He points out, all together, fracking operations in California currently use the same amount of water each year as 650 homes do.

HULL: It is not a lot of water in the big picture. Companies are looking very diligently at ways to reduce that number.

SOMMER: But a drilling boom in the Monterey Shale could change that. Fracking there uses more water than anywhere else in the state, up to a million gallons per well.

HULL: I think it's fair to say that if this technology that has proved so successful in other parts of the country can be as successful here, that we will see water consumption for hydraulic fracturing going up.

Listen Here: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/28/...

Yes, there is no doubt that "we will see water consumption for hydraulic fracturing going up" as the oil industry expands its fracking operations through the state's land and coastal waters.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas. In California, the main target of fracking is the oil found in the Monterey Shale Formation.

Nobody really knows how much water is used for fracking in California. Although corporate agribusiness remains the biggest user of state and federal water project water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the oil industry uses significant quantities of water that will only increase with the expansion of fracking.

The oil industry's allies in state government, like the industry representatives themselves, try to minimize the amount of water that is used for hydraulic fracturing operations.

In a post on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) website on March 20, 2013, Richard Stapler, Deputy Secretary for Communications of the California Natural Resources Agency, claimed that only 8 acre feet of water is used every year for hydraulic fracturing in California. (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/blog/blog/13-03-20/Oil_Water.aspx_)

In a recent blog piece on the WSPA website entitled, "Oil Production and the Drought: We Get It," Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create "marine protected areas" in Southern California, actually used a higher figure - "less than 300 acre feet of water" - for the amount of water used for fracking than Stapler did.

"Hydraulic fracturing does not use large volumes of water, at least not in California," Reheis-Boyd said. "All of the hydraulic fracturing that occurred last year used less than 300 acre feet of water, according to the California Department of Conservation. That's about the same amount of water needed to keep two West Coast golf courses green." (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/oil-production-and-drought-we-get-it)

On the other hand, Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director for Food & Water Watch, revealed that the oil industry in Kern County, where 70 percent of California's oil reserves are located, used 150,000 acre feet of water in 2008 alone. This water was used for both steam injection and fracking operations.
(http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/04/1282205/-Groups-release-new-map-revealing-drainage-impaired-land-and-oil-basins.)  

"When you consider that 8 barrels of water are used for every barrel of oil extracted, you could be getting into millions of acre feet used for fracking oil wells," he noted.

If 30,000 potential fracking sites were utilized, that could result in the consumption of an additional 450,000 acre feet of water, considering that each fracking operation uses 15 acre feet of water, said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

She also noted that the industry has used four times the amount of water that it has claimed in Colorado and other states where fracking has been used to extract oil and natural gas.

Although the amount specifically used in fracking operations is hard to pinpoint, one thing is for certain - oil companies use big quantities of water in their current oil drilling operations in Kern County. Much of this water comes through the State Water Project's California Aqueduct and the Central Valley Water Project's Delta-Mendota Canal, spurring increasing conflicts between local farmers and oil companies over available water when Californians continue to suffer from a historic drought

"What's resoundingly clear, however, is that it takes more water than ever just to sustain Kern County's ebbing oil production," according to Jeremy Miller's 2011 investigative piece, "The Colonization of Kern County," in Orion Magazine (http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6047/)

"At the height of California oil production in 1985, oil companies in Kern County pumped 1.1 billion barrels of water underground to extract 256 million barrels of oil-a ratio of roughly four and a half barrels of water for every barrel of oil," according to Miller. "In 2008, Kern producers injected nearly 1.3 billion barrels of water to extract 162 million barrels of oil-a ratio of nearly eight barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced."

Miller's investigation yielded some alarming data on how much water has been used by the oil industry in Kern County and statewide since the 1960s.

"In the time since steamflooding was pioneered here in the fields of Kern County in the 1960s, oil companies statewide have pumped roughly 2.8 trillion gallons of fresh water-or, in the parlance of agriculture, nearly 9 million acre-feet-underground in pursuit of the region's tarry oil," said Miller. "Essentially, enough water has been injected into the oil fields here over the last forty years to create a lake one foot deep covering more than thirteen thousand square miles-nearly twice the surface area of Lake Ontario."

Another thing that is very clear is that the expansion of fracking will cause massive contamination of groundwater and surface supplies in California. According to David Braun of Californians Against Fracking, the industry's own data indicated that 5 to 6% of the casings for fracked wells fail in the first year of operation - and 50 percent fail over a 30-year period.

Fracking operations use numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene, that imperil groundwater supplies, rivers and lakes. Increased water contamination resulting from fracking operations in the Central Valley is the last thing that collapsing populations of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish populations need.

There is also no doubt that Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels would supply the water used to expand fracking in Kern County, as well as provide subsidized water to corporate agribusiness interests farming toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

On March 4, Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch released a new map that shows that the 35-mile long twin tunnels would mainly supply water to the largest agribusiness users of Delta water exports, land impaired by toxic selenium concentrations that make farming unsustainable, and the oil and gas basins where the energy industry could expand fracking.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla noted that fracking is another "water intensive industry" in the San Joaquin Valley that will further contaminate groundwater supplies already impaired by selenium, nitrates, pesticides and other pollutants.

"The governor's plan describes water for fracking via the proposed peripheral tunnels as a beneficial use," she stated, referring to the BDCP website. "Beneficial for whom? The peripheral tunnels would benefit unsustainable corporate agribusiness in one region and potentially the energy industry - at the expense of everyday Californians."

"This map shows a remarkable overlay of where our water is going, how the public subsidizes unsustainable crops on drainage-impaired lands, selenium concentrations that pose a threat to the public, and underlying oil deposits that could be fracked with water from the governor's tunnels," she said. "Unsustainable farming has damaged these lands. And the taxpayers have been subsidizing it."

Chook Chook Hillman, a member of the Karuk Tribe and the Klamath Justice Coalition, summed up the threat that fracking, massive water exports and the peripheral tunnels pose to salmon, other fish and people at a big rally against fracking attended by 4,000 people on March 14 at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

"Brown is setting aside all the environmental rules in order to ship water south," said Hillman. "Fracking will take good water, put chemicals in it and then it will come out toxic forever. Fracking will affect all us - fracking is a terrible use of water, water that could be used for people and fish." (http://intercontinentalcry.org/hundreds-tribal-representatives-join-huge-rally-oppose-fracking-22513/)

Background: How Fracking Contaminates Our Water and Air

Fracking routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. About 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, according to scientists with the Endocrine Disruption Exchange. Evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals are making their way into aquifers and drinking water.

Water quality can also be threatened by methane contamination tied to drilling and the fracturing of rock formations. This problem has been highlighted by footage of people in fracked areas setting fire to methane-laced water from kitchen faucets.

Fracking can also expose people to harm from lead, arsenic and radioactivity that are brought back to the surface with fracking flowback fluid. Fracking requires an enormous amount of water, and because fracking waste water contains dangerous toxins it generally cannot be cleaned and reused for other purposes. Especially during a historic drought, we cannot afford to permanently remove massive quantities of this precious resource from our state's water supply.

Fracking also pollutes the air by releasing dangerous petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene, toluene and xylene. It can also increase levels of ground-level ozone, a key risk factor for asthma and other respiratory illness. Air pollution caused by fracking contributes to the risk of asthma, cancer, and other health problems in people living near fracked wells, according to a Colorado School of Public Health study. (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/20/local/la-me-gs-fracking-increases-air-pollution-health-risks-to-residents-20120320)

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

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Big Oil spokesman admits water use will rise with expanded fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Thu May 08, 2014 at 08:35:41 AM PDT

Oil and gas industry representatives constantly like to talk about the "small amounts" of water that the industry currently uses in fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas of California.

However, on April 28, Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former press spokesman for the Westlands Water District, admitted in an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) what the anti-fracking community has known for a long time: Once they figure out how to make the Monterey Shale economically viable, the water usage will ramp up significantly.

Here is a partial transcript of Lauren Sommer's interview with Hull, courtesy of the Stop Fracking California State facebook page:

TUPPER HULL: In California today, hydraulic fracturing uses very small amounts of water.

SOMMER: Tupper Hull is with the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry group. He points out, all together, fracking operations in California currently use the same amount of water each year as 650 homes do.

HULL: It is not a lot of water in the big picture. Companies are looking very diligently at ways to reduce that number.

SOMMER: But a drilling boom in the Monterey Shale could change that. Fracking there uses more water than anywhere else in the state, up to a million gallons per well.

HULL: I think it's fair to say that if this technology that has proved so successful in other parts of the country can be as successful here, that we will see water consumption for hydraulic fracturing going up.

Listen Here: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/28/...

Yes, there is no doubt that "we will see water consumption for hydraulic fracturing going up" as the oil industry expands its fracking operations through the state's land and coastal waters.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas. In California, the main target of fracking is the oil found in the Monterey Shale Formation.

Nobody really knows how much water is used for fracking in California. Although corporate agribusiness remains the biggest user of state and federal water project water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the oil industry uses significant quantities of water that will only increase with the expansion of fracking.

The oil industry's allies in state government, like the industry representatives themselves, try to minimize the amount of water that is used for hydraulic fracturing operations.

In a post on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) website on March 20, 2013, Richard Stapler, Deputy Secretary for Communications of the California Natural Resources Agency, claimed that only 8 acre feet of water is used every year for hydraulic fracturing in California. (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/blog/blog/13-03-20/Oil_Water.aspx_)

In a recent blog piece on the WSPA website entitled, "Oil Production and the Drought: We Get It," Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create "marine protected areas" in Southern California, actually used a higher figure - "less than 300 acre feet of water" - for the amount of water used for fracking than Stapler did.

"Hydraulic fracturing does not use large volumes of water, at least not in California," Reheis-Boyd said. "All of the hydraulic fracturing that occurred last year used less than 300 acre feet of water, according to the California Department of Conservation. That's about the same amount of water needed to keep two West Coast golf courses green." (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/oil-production-and-drought-we-get-it)

On the other hand, Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director for Food & Water Watch, revealed that the oil industry in Kern County, where 70 percent of California's oil reserves are located, used 150,000 acre feet of water in 2008 alone. This water was used for both steam injection and fracking operations.
(http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/04/1282205/-Groups-release-new-map-revealing-drainage-impaired-land-and-oil-basins.)  

"When you consider that 8 barrels of water are used for every barrel of oil extracted, you could be getting into millions of acre feet used for fracking oil wells," he noted.

If 30,000 potential fracking sites were utilized, that could result in the consumption of an additional 450,000 acre feet of water, considering that each fracking operation uses 15 acre feet of water, said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

She also noted that the industry has used four times the amount of water that it has claimed in Colorado and other states where fracking has been used to extract oil and natural gas.

Although the amount specifically used in fracking operations is hard to pinpoint, one thing is for certain - oil companies use big quantities of water in their current oil drilling operations in Kern County. Much of this water comes through the State Water Project's California Aqueduct and the Central Valley Water Project's Delta-Mendota Canal, spurring increasing conflicts between local farmers and oil companies over available water when Californians continue to suffer from a historic drought

"What's resoundingly clear, however, is that it takes more water than ever just to sustain Kern County's ebbing oil production," according to Jeremy Miller's 2011 investigative piece, "The Colonization of Kern County," in Orion Magazine (http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6047/)

"At the height of California oil production in 1985, oil companies in Kern County pumped 1.1 billion barrels of water underground to extract 256 million barrels of oil-a ratio of roughly four and a half barrels of water for every barrel of oil," according to Miller. "In 2008, Kern producers injected nearly 1.3 billion barrels of water to extract 162 million barrels of oil-a ratio of nearly eight barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced."

Miller's investigation yielded some alarming data on how much water has been used by the oil industry in Kern County and statewide since the 1960s.

"In the time since steamflooding was pioneered here in the fields of Kern County in the 1960s, oil companies statewide have pumped roughly 2.8 trillion gallons of fresh water-or, in the parlance of agriculture, nearly 9 million acre-feet-underground in pursuit of the region's tarry oil," said Miller. "Essentially, enough water has been injected into the oil fields here over the last forty years to create a lake one foot deep covering more than thirteen thousand square miles-nearly twice the surface area of Lake Ontario."

Another thing that is very clear is that the expansion of fracking will cause massive contamination of groundwater and surface supplies in California. According to David Braun of Californians Against Fracking, the industry's own data indicated that 5 to 6% of the casings for fracked wells fail in the first year of operation - and 50 percent fail over a 30-year period.

Fracking operations use numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene, that imperil groundwater supplies, rivers and lakes. Increased water contamination resulting from fracking operations in the Central Valley is the last thing that collapsing populations of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish populations need.

There is also no doubt that Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels would supply the water used to expand fracking in Kern County, as well as provide subsidized water to corporate agribusiness interests farming toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

On March 4, Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch released a new map that shows that the 35-mile long twin tunnels would mainly supply water to the largest agribusiness users of Delta water exports, land impaired by toxic selenium concentrations that make farming unsustainable, and the oil and gas basins where the energy industry could expand fracking.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla noted that fracking is another "water intensive industry" in the San Joaquin Valley that will further contaminate groundwater supplies already impaired by selenium, nitrates, pesticides and other pollutants.

"The governor's plan describes water for fracking via the proposed peripheral tunnels as a beneficial use," she stated, referring to the BDCP website. "Beneficial for whom? The peripheral tunnels would benefit unsustainable corporate agribusiness in one region and potentially the energy industry - at the expense of everyday Californians."

"This map shows a remarkable overlay of where our water is going, how the public subsidizes unsustainable crops on drainage-impaired lands, selenium concentrations that pose a threat to the public, and underlying oil deposits that could be fracked with water from the governor's tunnels," she said. "Unsustainable farming has damaged these lands. And the taxpayers have been subsidizing it."

Chook Chook Hillman, a member of the Karuk Tribe and the Klamath Justice Coalition, summed up the threat that fracking, massive water exports and the peripheral tunnels pose to salmon, other fish and people at a big rally against fracking attended by 4,000 people on March 14 at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

"Brown is setting aside all the environmental rules in order to ship water south," said Hillman. "Fracking will take good water, put chemicals in it and then it will come out toxic forever. Fracking will affect all us - fracking is a terrible use of water, water that could be used for people and fish." (http://intercontinentalcry.org/hundreds-tribal-representatives-join-huge-rally-oppose-fracking-22513/)

Background: How Fracking Contaminates Our Water and Air

Fracking routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, naphthalene and trimethylbenzene, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. About 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, according to scientists with the Endocrine Disruption Exchange. Evidence is mounting throughout the country that these chemicals are making their way into aquifers and drinking water.

Water quality can also be threatened by methane contamination tied to drilling and the fracturing of rock formations. This problem has been highlighted by footage of people in fracked areas setting fire to methane-laced water from kitchen faucets.

Fracking can also expose people to harm from lead, arsenic and radioactivity that are brought back to the surface with fracking flowback fluid. Fracking requires an enormous amount of water, and because fracking waste water contains dangerous toxins it generally cannot be cleaned and reused for other purposes. Especially during a historic drought, we cannot afford to permanently remove massive quantities of this precious resource from our state's water supply.

Fracking also pollutes the air by releasing dangerous petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene, toluene and xylene. It can also increase levels of ground-level ozone, a key risk factor for asthma and other respiratory illness. Air pollution caused by fracking contributes to the risk of asthma, cancer, and other health problems in people living near fracked wells, according to a Colorado School of Public Health study. (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/20/local/la-me-gs-fracking-increases-air-pollution-health-risks-to-residents-20120320)

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

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Attend anti-tunnels comment party on May 13

by: Dan Bacher

Mon May 05, 2014 at 14:43:48 PM PDT

Restore the Delta (RTD) will host a party for a great cause on Tuesday, May 13 - a "Public Comment Party" to complete more than one hundred citizens comments against the environmentally destructive peripheral tunnels.

The event will run from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Reserve at Spanos Park, Mt. Diablo Room 6301 W. Eight Mile Rd. in Stockton.

RTD, opponents of Gov. Brown's plan to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom Central Valley Chinook salmon and other Pacific fisheries, noted that people have just a few weeks left to respond to the Brown Administration's 40,000 page proposed BDCP Plan.

"It's nearly impossible for a concerned citizen to review and digest this avalanche of information, and misinformation, alone," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "We call all concerned citizens to write comment letters, and be counted. RTD will provide examples and instructions on how to identify impacts on your property, business and communities. Walk out with your comment letter!"

She said RTD will provide a list of areas of concern affecting all area residents, and will have experts in attendance to explain potential negative impacts. Here is a sample BDCP response letter that residents can personalize and submit: http://yx17.us/p/?_1723-4/1SIC...  

Refreshments will be provided. RSVP and letter writing information, language translators or childcare can be arranged: contace stina@restorethedelta.org or call (209) 475-9550. (RSVP is encouraged, but not required.)

This event is NOT open to state or federal officials and land management organizations, water agency representatives from outside the Delta, or participants in the BDCP.

The tunnels would divert Sacramento River water for use by corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County, and Southern California water agencies. The implementation of the tunnels plan would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath river.

Restore the Delta is a 15,000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin.

Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve@hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara@restorethedelta.org; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta  

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Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan Lacks Answers

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 09:32:26 AM PDT

As many taxpayers were scurrying to send in their state and federal taxes on April 15, three environmental groups asked the big, unanswered question looming over the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the twin tunnels: who will pay?

"With just 60 days remaining for public examination and comment, the parties involved in the creation, planning and implementation of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) have failed to reveal a binding Implementation Agreement (IA) showing how the Delta tunnels project will be financed, built or operated," according to a news release from Restore the Delta, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and the Environmental Water Caucus.

The groups said the "continuing failure" to file the agreement without specificity and detail highlights the unwillingness of water exporters to document a commitment to funding construction and mitigation costs for the proposed Delta tunnels project. Specific financing information for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has not been included in the 40,000 page BDPC Plan and corresponding EIR.

Bill Jennings, executive director, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), said, "If they cannot explain in the implementation agreement how the 40,000 pages of fantasy in the BDCP and the EIR are going to be implemented or financed, then how can the public be expected to comment effectively by June 13, 2014, or any date for that matter?"

"State and Federal Water Contractors have refused to make binding commitments to ensure species recovery nor have they agreed on how to finance or operate the tunnels project that has only been 10% designed," said Restore the Delta (RTD) Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. "The cost of this project has ballooned so high that many of the water exporters are already backing away from paying their share of costs. We hope that when the governor and water exporters finally see the real BDCP cost numbers, they will join us in advocating for more reasonable alternatives."  

"What the current drought crisis shows us is that all rules and laws protecting the Delta, which had been created to deal with standards for dry conditions, are subject to rollback, even when the cause behind the crisis is mismanagement," said Nick di Croce of the Environmental Water Caucus (EWC). "The lateness and lack of specificity in the Implementation Agreement demonstrates that the BDCP would never be managed or governed for the health of the estuary. It would be operated to drain every last drop out of the system to send to Westlands and the Kern County Water Agency."

For more information, contact:
Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve [at] hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara [at] restorethedelta.org; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta
Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance - deltakeep [at] me.com; 209/938-9053
Nick di Croce, Environmental Water Caucus - 805-688-7813; troutnk [at] aol.com

Friends of the River, in response to the refusal by Bay Delta Conservation Plan officials to post public comments, on April 10 announced that it is posting all comments made on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Water Tunnels project on its website, http://www.friendsoftheriver.org, under the heading Bay Delta Conservation Plan Public Comment Library.

According to the announcement from Friends of the River, "It is imperative that public interest organizations, public agencies, and California citizens, taxpayers and ratepayers have access to comments made as they come in to assist them in spotting issues and formulating their own comments on the 40,000 pages of advocacy--the Plan and draft EIR/EIS-- touting the BDCP Water Tunnels."

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Brown reappoints former Resources Legacy head to Delta Conservancy

by: Dan Bacher

Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 23:23:06 PM PDT

Jerry Brown, one of the worst Governors for fish, wildlife and the environment in California history, on March 28 appointed Michael Eaton, 62, of Galt,  to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, where he has served since 2010.

Eaton has been owner of Kingbird Farms since 2010, according to the announcement from the Governor's Office. He was executive director at the Resources Legacy Fund and Resources Legacy Fund Foundation from 2007 to 2010 and project director at the Nature Conversancy from 1995 to 2007.

Eaton headed the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, known for its support of corporate greenwashing campaigns in California, as it was funding the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called "marine protected areas" that don't protect the ocean.

The MLPA Initiative was characterized by numerous conflicts of interests, terminally flawed science and the overt violation of the Yurok and other Tribes' traditional fishing and gathering rights. The process that Eaton's group funded created questionable "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

In a huge conflict of interest, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California from 2009 to 2011. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)

During the period from 2004 to 2012, she also served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. Under her leadership, she and other corporate interests made sure that oil industry operations, including fracking operations in Southern California waters, weren't impacted at all by the creation of "marine protected areas."  

More recently, the corruption of the individuals overseeing the process was evidenced by the guilty plea by Ron LeValley, Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, on federal embezzlement charges. LeValley is scheduled for sentencing in May for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle nearly $1 million from the Yurok Tribe, the same Tribe whose scientists he inexplicably refused to allow present scientific studies that contested the junk science the process was based upon.

The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation that funds it are also known for dumping millions into corporate environmental NGOs that support a peripheral canal or tunnel, as well as funding the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reports advocating the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel.

Besides serving as Executive Director of the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund and Resources Legacy Foundation, Eaton was an independent environmental policy consultant from 1983 to 1995 and assistant secretary for resources policy at the California Resources Agency from 1981 to 1983.

This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Eaton is a Democrat.

Michael Eaton's reappointment by Brown is a classic example of the revolving door between foundations, corporate "environmental" NGOs, corporations and government that characterizes environmental committees and processes in California.

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Environmental Water Caucus Unveils Real-Time Drought Response

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 18:21:00 PM PDT

As the drought continues, Governor Jerry Brown and other politicians continue to promote the Bay Day Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels as the "solution" to California's water problems.

Others in Congress, such as Representative Devin Nunes and Senator Majority Leader John Boehner, are using the drought as an opportunity to promote legislation that will eviscerate protections for Central Valley salmon, in order to ship Delta water to corporate agribusiness interests and oil companies, and to build more dams throughout the state.

On the other hand, the Environmental Water Caucus, a broad coalition of fishing groups, Indian Tribes, conservation groups and environmental justice organizations, has released a response to the drought pointing to ways that permanently use less water and better manage the hundreds of existing dams and reservoirs that already exist.

"With a history of recurring drought in California- 40% of recent years have been drought level years California ought to be well prepared for these conditions. Instead we have another of the usual 'emergency drought proclamations' from the Governor," said Nick Di Croce, CoFacilitator of the Environmental Water Caucus.

Di Croce cited the kinds of actions that are "really needed to get us out of this recurring cycle," as recommended by the member organizations of the Environmental Water Caucus. These include:

• Provide funding of mandatory programs for urban and agricultural efficiencies and conservation. This would include measures such as incentives to purchase high efficiency toilets, clothes washers and dishwashers, storm water capture, urban landscape replacement, groundwater cleanup, waste water treatment and recycling, green water infrastructure, and higher technology farm irrigation practices and equipment. All of these actions have proven successful in the recent past, especially compared to the costs of water from new dams.

• Develop water pricing guidelines to incentivize reduced use of urban and agricultural water with local baselines and steep upward price escalation for usage above the baselines.

• Develop enforceable regional per capita water usage targets based on the efficiency and conservation measures adopted.

• Report and monitor groundwater usage in order to minimize groundwater overdraft. California is the only major state that does not monitor or control its groundwater.

• Retire impaired farmlands in the San Joaquin Valley which now pollute our groundwater and rivers and use excessive amounts of irrigation water; these lands could be repurposed as solar farms.

• Develop water pricing incentives for planting crops which directly contribute to the nation's food supply. As we reach the limits of our water supply, we need to question the use of that valuable resource in order to ensure the best use of our water.

• Reduce exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta to a sustainable level aimed at protecting our water supplies as well as fish and habitat.

• Operate major dams with a larger reserve held back for the 40% of low water years that can be anticipated. The major orientation of dam operations should be to protect water quality, drinking water, fisheries, and habitats.

• Reduce water district contract amounts to a more reasonable level in keeping with future reduced water supplies and to eliminate the current "paper water. "The state has promised 5-1/2 times more water rights than the water that actually exists," said Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), a member organization of the Environmental Water Caucus.

• Restrict the use of water for fracking oil and natural gas. The limitations of our water supply require that we not use that resource for a completely new water polluting industry.

• Assure that adequate water supplies are provided to disadvantaged communities and that the water quality for poorer communities meets healthy standards.

"These are the kinds of actions that will be a real and permanent drought response," emphasized Di Croce.

I agree. There is no need to build the twin tunnels or new dams when all of these much better options for restoring the Bay Delta Estuary, California rivers and coastal waters while providing water for the needs of Californians are available.

Likewise, we must ban the environmentally destructive practice of hydraulic fracturing that uses precious water needed for drinking water supplies, family farmers and fish at at a time when California reels from the impacts of a record drought. We cannot allow one single drop of water to be used to expand fracking in California.

The member organizations of the Environmental Water Caucus include the AquAlliance, Butte Environmental Council, California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Save Our Streams Council, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Striped Bass Association, California Water Impact Network, Clean Water Action, Citizens Water Watch, Desal Response Group, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Environmental Protection Information Center, Earth Law Center, Fish Sniffer Magazine, Foothill Conservancy, Friends of the River, Food & Water Watch, Granite Bay Flycasters, Institute for Fisheries Resources, The Karuk Tribe, North Coast Environmental Center, Northern California Council, Federation of Fly Fishers, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Planning & Conservation League, Restore the Delta, Sacramento River Preservation Trust, Sierra Club California, Sierra Nevada Alliance, Southern California Watershed Alliance and Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

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

Contacts:
Nick Di Croce, Co-Facilitator, Environmental Water Caucus
troutnk [at] aol.com, 805-688-7813
Conner Everts, Southern California Watershed Alliance
connere [at] west.net, (310) 804-6615
Eric Wesselman, Executive Director, Friends of the River
eric [at] friendsoftheriver.org, (510) 775-3797

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Governor Tunnel Dream announces run for fourth term

by: Dan Bacher

Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 16:19:27 PM PST

When a photo of Governor Jerry Brown signing a document appeared on his facebook page on February 27, anti-fracking activists were hoping he was signing an executive order to ban the environmentally destructive, water-intensive oil extraction practice known as hydraulic fracturing in California.

Delta advocates were hoping he was signing an executive order to abolish the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels and to adopt instead the Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan.

And environmental justice and ocean protection advocates were hoping Brown was signing an executive order calling for a strict ban on oil drilling, fracking, pollution, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering in the so-called "marine protected areas" created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

Unfortunately, Governor Brown was instead taking out the papers to run for an unprecedented fourth term.

In his official announcement kicking off his reelection campaign, Brown brought up the drought and climate change. He said we "live in unprecedented times" and that the current drought is a "portent of times to come." (Does he know something that we don't know?)

"We live in unprecedented times," said Brown. "The tasks ahead are not simple or mundane. The climate itself is changing, threatening catastrophic and irreversible damage to the oceans and natural systems on which human beings and other forms of life depend. In many respects, California is leading the way and we will continue to do so by encouraging many kinds of innovation and by joining with other states and nations. But this is a global problem and only by acting both locally and globally do we have any chance of reducing the unrelenting increase of heat-trapping gasses."

He continued, "The current drought is a portent of weather to come. It should awaken us to the actions we need to take this year and in the years to follow. Water is more than a resource. It is a vital and fundamental element of our wellbeing. In the next few years, we need to make solid progress in managing our water both above and below the ground."

However, he avoided discussing the highly unpopular Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the twin tunnels, saying only, "I pledge my full commitment to bringing all the disparate parties together and working to achieve sensible, scientific and sustainable water policies."

If Brown really wants to "bring the disparate parties" together, he should actually talk and meet with the people he has excluded from the state's environmental processes and water policy discussions - Indian Tribes, recreational and commercial fishermen, grassroots environmentalists, Delta residents and family farmers.

And he should completely abandon the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, a $67 billion boondoggle that will only enrich corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies and Southern California water agencies at the expense of family farmers, salmon and the vast majority of Californians. Why is he pursuing an enormously expensive and environmentally destructive plan that won't create one drop of new water.

And how can he keep promoting the expansion of water intensive fracking in California during a drought? We can't spare one single drop of water on fracking when family farmers, cities and fish don't have enough water for their needs.

As Brown promotes fracking, Restore the Delta (RTD) and Food and Water Watch, opponents of Governor Brown's Bay Delta Conservation to build the peripheral tunnels, will hold a teleconference on Tuesday, March 4, at 2 pm to release a new map depicting the overlap between the largest agricultural users of Bay-Delta water exports, land impaired by selenium concentrations that make farming unsustainable, and oil and gas basins that could be fracked.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, and Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director of Food & Water Watch, will be the featured speakers.

"This map will show a remarkable overlay of where our water is going, how the public subsidizes unsustainable crops on drainage-impaired lands, selenium concentrations that pose a threat to the public, and underlying oil deposits that could be fracked with water from the governor's tunnels," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. "Unsustainable farming has damaged these lands. And the taxpayers have been subsidizing it. Fracking is another water intensive industry in the San Joaquin Valley that will further contaminate groundwater supplies."

"The governor's plan describes water for fracking via the proposed peripheral tunnels as a beneficial use. Beneficial for whom? The peripheral tunnels would benefit unsustainable corporate agribusiness in one region and potentially the energy industry - at the expense of everyday Californians," concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.

Governor Jerry Brown is fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the build the peripheral tunnels in order to export Delta water to corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies and Southern California water agencies. The construction of the tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve [at] hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara [at] restorethedelta.org; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

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

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Delta advocates, Winnemem Tribe call on Obama to not support tunnels

by: Dan Bacher

Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 17:50:32 PM PST

Advocates for the restoration of Central Valley salmon and the Delta rallied with colorful signs and banners at an intersection surrounded by fields on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley 12 miles west of the town of Firebaugh on Friday, February 14, urging President Obama to not support Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnel plan.

The diverse group of over 60 people, including fishermen, Delta farmers, environmentalists and a Winnemem Wintu Tribe leader, also called on Obama to let federal science officials to their jobs regarding the protection of salmon and Delta fish populations without interference - and to support sustainable water policies that balance the needs of fish, wildlife and people. Many of the group traveled from Stockton via a chartered bus and car pools that morning that ended up at the intersection Althea and Oxford roads.

The signs included slogans such as "Fish Need Flows," "Something Is Fishy About BDCP," "Thank You For Not Supporting HR 3924," "Save the Delta, Stop the Tunnels," "Don't Let BDCP Muck Up the Delta," "Dear Obama, Please No Tunnels - Yours Truly the Delta," and "Unsustainable Mega Growers Want California Water." Photos of the event are available at: http://www.indybay.org/newsite...

The Delta advocates, organized by Restore the Delta, and a dozen press vans were waiting for the presidential motorcade to go by to send their message to Obama, but the President instead decided to fly by helicopter to a closed door meeting with a select group of corporate agribusiness interests, state and government officials and local leaders.

Obama, accompanied by Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Jim Costa, met with Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Birmingham, General Manager of the Westlands Water District, Jose and Maria Del Bosque, west side agribusiness owners, Arturo Rodriguez, President of the United Farmworkers Union, and other officials to discuss drought relief.

Obama unveiled a $183 million drought aid package, including $100 million in livestock disaster assistance for California producers; $15 million in targeted conservation assistance for the most extreme and exceptional drought areas; and $5 million in targeted Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program assistance to the most drought impacted areas of California to protect vulnerable soils. The package also contains $60 million for food banks to help families that may be economically impacted by the drought and $3 million in Emergency Water Assistance Grants for rural communities experiencing water shortages.

The President didn't invite any Delta residents, leaders of California Indian Tribes, Sacramento Valley or Delta farmers, commercial fishermen and recreational anglers, who have been also dramatically impacted by California's unprecedented drought, to the meeting. However, Restore the Delta and local activists did their best to get their message out to the national, regional and local media gathered there - and were very successful conveying their message to a variety outlets, ranging from NBC News, to the Washington Post, to Pacifica News.

"It's extremely significant that President Obama is willing to meet with the people down here on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, but not with people on the Delta," said Javier Padilla, the Latino outreach director of Restore the Delta. "I believe that he came here because there are a lot of big money interests here and John Boehner, the House Majority Leader came down to the west side recently."

Michael Tuiimyali, Winnemem Wintu Member and a recent U.C. Berkeley graduate, noted that members of his Tribe and other California Indian Tribes weren't invited to Obama's meeting and tour. He emphasized the importance of salmon and the Delta to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, a strong opponent of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

"The collapse of salmon and the Delta is a threat to our cultural survival," he said. "Our prophecies say that if the salmon go extinct, so will the Winnemem Wintu people. We don't take this prophecy too lightly."

He said the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal plan designed to provide more water to agribusiness interests in conjunction with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, would "flood our our culture." The widely opposed plan would inundate many of the remaining sites on the McCloud River that weren't flooded when Shasta Dam was completed in the 1940s.

"The dam raise would flood over 30 of our most important sites, including Puberty Rock, the Dance Grounds, Sucker Pool, Childrens' Rock and Wishing Rock," he said. "The dam raise would flooded the old campground where we do our ceremony that is located on the site of an old Winnemem village. There are still lots of artifacts in this area."

He added that the winter-run Chinook salmon native to the McCloud River is an indicator of the entire Delta ecosystem - and without the restoration of the salmon, the whole ecosystem will collapse.

In the morning, Restore the Delta (RTD) held a press conference at the Holiday Inn in Fresno. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD Executive Director, said that President Obama "should not be misled" that the peripheral tunnels are of any value in meeting California's water challenges highlighted by the record drought conditions.

"We implore him not to support this boondoggle that mainly benefits a handful of mega-growers," she said. "The President needs to know where our water is going in order to decide whether to spend billions to continue feeding water buffaloes, or to change direction. Westlands Water District uses the current water scarcity to push the Peripheral Tunnels, but that is the wrong answer. We ask the president to meet with Delta farmers and community leaders as well."

She also said California needs alternatives to the current, failed water policies, which" treat water as though it were a limitless resource."

"California needs to reduce the demand for water, and reduce reliance on the Delta," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "The combination of these demand reduction actions, plus reinforcement of Delta levees, improvement of south Delta fish screens and salvage operations, elimination of harmful water transfers through the Delta, and numerous fish protections, preclude the need for the BDCP twin tunnels."

Jerry Cadagan, Tuolumne County sustainable water policy advocate, told the press conference that west side San Joaquin Valley agribusiness is not the only industry impacted by the drought - that all Californians, including the recreational and fishing industry that depends on healthy Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, are suffering from record lack of precipitation.

"As the President focuses on the problems of the agricultural industry, we must remember that almost all Californians are in a world of hurt due to the drought," he said. "My county of Tuolumne will run out of water by July for essentials like drinking water if we don't get some relief. Just as the farmers in the Valley provide us with food, so do the fishermen on the coast."

Cadagan stated, "The fishing industry has the same employment and economic problems as the growers of fruits and nuts. There needs to be a better balance in how we allocate our water and relief dollars."

The Delta farm industry contributes $5.2 billion per year to California's economy, while the salmon, crab and other fishing operations that depend upon the health of the Delta contributed another $1.5 billion per year, according to Barrigan-Parrilla. The Delta recreation industry, led by recreational fishing and boating, also provides $750,000 per year to the economy.

Corporate agribusiness on the Valley's west side only contributes less than 3/10 of 1 percent to the state's economy, said Barrigan-Parrilla.

Jay Hubbel, an organizer of Fresnans Against Fracking, highlighted the institutional poverty that corporate agribusiness has perpetuated on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, an area where unemployment averages around 20 percent even in wet years.

"If big agribusiness could bring jobs and prosperity to the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, they would have done so already," said Hubble. "My family has been in Fresno since 1959 and the west side has always been synonymous with poverty."

The west side is no doubt a region characterized by institutional poverty. Debra Lopez of Dos Palos, who runs the clothing project for the local Methodist Church, came to the rally to talk to Delta advocates and the media about what the drought will mean to local farmworker families, many of who expect to be unemployed this year if the drought persists.

"Our food bank that gives out food to local families can barely handle the people that it helps now," she pointed out.

Delta resident Rogene Reynolds, the descendent of pioneer Delta farming families, summed up that the construction of tunnels of the tunnels under the BDCP will amount to a "massive transfer of wealth" from the public to corporate interests."

"As we know, in California water is wealth," she said. "The peripheral tunnels are a massive transfer of that wealth from all of the rest of us to Westlands and Kern billionaires who are growing permanent crops for export."

"The excuse of revitalizing the Delta (under the BDCP) is just political cover for that transfer. The losers in this process will be the California taxpayers, who will fund a massive project to satisfy the greed of a few," Reynolds concluded.

Restore the Delta's solutions to California's water needs:

At the press conference, Restore the Delta urged the governor to adopt these sustainable water policies:

1. Expand and fund statewide water efficiency, recycling, storm water reuse, and demand reduction programs beyond the scale of the current 20/20 program. Make the program mandatory for urban and agricultural users.

2. Retire agricultural land in the San Joaquin Valley that is drainage impaired. These lands are mostly in the Westlands Water District.

3. Reduce exports from the Delta during dry and critically dry water years to the level that will support public health and safety. In normal and above normal water years, limit exports from the Delta to 3 million acre-feet; which provide adequate outflows - in accordance with SWRCB guidelines - and help restore Delta habitat and fisheries.

4. Maintain water quality standards in the estuary and in impaired rivers.

5. Monitor and report statewide groundwater usage.

6. Return the Kern Water Bank to state control, restore the Article 18 urban preference, and restore the original intent of Article 21 surplus water in SWP contracts.

7. Preserve the provisions of state and federal Endangered Species Act, Wild and Scenic River protections, San Joaquin River Settlement, and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.

8. Revise water rights and contract levels to align with water that is actually available. The State has granted five times the amount of water that is available in a typical year. Rein in "paper water" that now exists.

http://www.restorethedelta.org.  

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