Delta Advocates Blast Gov. Brown for Pushing Tunnels Plan in State of the State

Article by Dan Bacher
January 21, 2016 

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/1/21/1472991/-Delta-advocates-blast-Governor-Brown-for-pushing-tunnels-plan-in-State-of-the-State

In his State of the State Address at the State Capitol in Sacramento today, Governor Jerry Brown promoted building “reliable conveyance” — the controversial Delta Tunnels Plan proposed under the California Water Fix and California Water Action Plan — and building “storage” to supposedly achieve the goal of providing a reliable water supply for the state’s residents.

“One of the bright spots in our contentious politics is the joining together of both parties and the people themselves to secure passage of Proposition 1, the Water Bond,” said Brown. “That, together with our California Water Action Plan, establishes a solid program to deal with the drought and the longer-term challenge of using our water wisely.”

“Our goal must be to preserve California’s natural beauty and ensure a vibrant economy – on our farms, in our cities and for all the people who live here. There is no magic bullet but a series of actions must be taken. We have to recharge our aquifers, manage the groundwater, recycle, capture stormwater, build storage and reliable conveyance, improve efficiency everywhere, invest in new technologies – including desalination – and all the while recognize that there are some limits,” he stated.

He also uttered some of the “achieving balance between conflicting parties” rhetoric that he has become known for, all while he continues to serve the interests of the corporate agribusiness, Big Oil, Big Timber and other corporate interests through his anti-environmental water policies that have brought Central Valley steelhead and salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, green sturgeon and other fish species to the brink of extinction under his administration.

“Achieving balance between all the conflicting interests is not easy but I pledge to you that I will listen and work patiently to achieve results that will stand the test of time,” Brown claimed. “Water goes to the heart of what California is and what it has been over centuries. Pitting fish against farmer misses the point and grossly distorts reality. Every one of us and every creature that dwells here form a complex system which must be understood and respected.”

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, immediately responded to the state of the state by saying, “We are thrilled to hear Governor Brown’s commitment to protecting ecological systems. And we are glad he has committed to solving today’s problems without making them worse.”

However, she then blasted Brown for moving ahead with the Delta Tunnels project, considered by many to be potentially the most environmentally destructive project in California history.

“Unfortunately, Governor Brown insists on moving forward with the Delta tunnels project despite serious environmental concerns raised by numerous organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency which found the plan ‘incomplete’ with required analysis ‘not yet done,’” Barrigan-Parrilla said.

“The tunnels will destroy the sole source of drinking water for one million Delta residents, the physical environment and the state’s most magnificent fisheries and breathtaking habitat for birds on the Pacific flyway, not to mention the agricultural and related economies for an additional three million Delta area residents,” she stated.

“The Delta tunnels will cost $17 billion before cost overruns and interest, and will not make any new water for California. Perhaps the Governor should take his own advice and drop his bad Delta Tunnels plan,” Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.

She also described a new video promoting the tunnels released by the Governor’s Office today as “mockworthy.” The “California WaterFix Video” below is hyperlinked to the words “reliable conveyance” in the on line transcript of Brown’s speech.

Californians for Water Security, a group describing itself as a “coalition supporting the plan to fix California’s aging water infrastructure, including business leaders, labor, family farmers, local governments, water experts and others,” also responded to the address in a statement. The group applauded Governor Brown’s comments in the State of the State address “discussing the importance of fixing our state’s water infrastructure.”

“There is a strong political will to get this done now,” said Michael Quigley, Executive Director of the Alliance for Jobs. “We desperately need to replenish groundwater basins, fill up reservoirs, and recharge our existing water supplies – but without a reliable conveyance we cannot get water where it’s needed and too much water will be wasted out to sea that should be captured.”

Delta Tunnels are one of Brown’s many anti-environmental policies.

While Brown has posed as a “climate leader” and “green governor” at conferences and photo opportunities around the globe, he has overseen water policies that have brought Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and a host of other species to the edge of extinction, in addition to promoting the Delta Tunnels Plan, a project that will only cause further ecological and economic damage.

His administration in 2011 presided over record water exports out the Sacramento-San Joaquin River  Delta — and the killing of millions of Sacramento splittail, an imperiled native minnow, and other species at the Delta pumps. (www.truth-out.org/…)

More recently, fish species ranging from endangered Delta Smelt to Striped Bass plummeted to record low population levels in 2015, according to the annual fall survey report released on December 18 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). (www.dailykos.com/…)

Only 6 Delta Smelt, an endangered species that once numbered in the millions and was the most abundant fish in the Delta, were collected at the index stations in the estuary this fall. The 2015 index (7), a relative number of abundance, “is the lowest in history,” said Sara Finstad, an environmental scientist for the CDFW’s Bay Delta Region.

Meanwhile, Brown promotes the expansion of fracking and other extreme oil drilling techniques in California and backs potentially genocidal carbon trading policies and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), according to indigenous leaders. (www.dailykos.com/…)

In addition, Brown oversaw the “completion”  of “marine protected areas,” created under the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, that don’t protect the ocean from fracking, offshore oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

And it was only after months of intense pressure from environmentalists, public health advocates and Porter Ranch residents that Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak disaster that began on October 23. Meanwhile, Brown’s sister, Kathleen, plays a significant role at Sempra Energy, the corporation that owns SoCalGas, the company responsible for the gas blowout. She earned $188,380 in her position as a board member in 2014 and $267,865 in 2013. (www.dailykos.com/…)

 Conflicts of interest like this one abound in a state where the regulatory apparatus has been captured by the regulated, including Big Oil, corporate agribusiness, the timber industry and other corporate interests.

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