Posted 04 August 2011, by Dan Bacher, San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (IndyBay), indybay.org
Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and other Brown administration officials, while paying lip service to more “inclusion” and “transparency” in the BDCP process, are apparently continuing to rig the process in favor of corporate agribusiness and water agency officials to the detriment of fishermen, Delta residents, California Indian Tribes, environmental justice communities and the vast majority of Californians.
Aerial photo of the Tracy Fish Collection Facility (TFCF) in the South Delta courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation. Nine million Sacramento splittail and hundreds of thousands of other fish species have been “salvaged” at the state and federal “predator” pumping facilities in the South Delta to date this year.
Bay Delta Committee excludes Delta residents, Tribes and fishermen
by Dan Bacher
It is becoming increasingly clear to Californians that Governor Jerry Brown and Resources Secretary John Laird are continuing the failed environmental policies of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in California history.
The Brown administration is forging ahead with the three most notorious environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger regime – the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal, the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create questionable “marine protected areas,” and the massive export of northern California water to corporate agribusiness and southern California water agencies that has resulted in record numbers of Sacramento splittail and other fish species perishing at the state and federal water project Delta pumping facilities this year.
For example, Laird and other Brown administration officials, while paying lip service to more “inclusion” and “transparency” in the BDCP process, are apparently continuing to rig the process in favor of corporate agribusiness and water agency officials to the detriment of fishermen, Delta residents, California Indian Tribes, environmental justice communities and the vast majority of Californians.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, exposes this exclusion of Delta advocates in the organization’s “Delta Flows” newsletter published on August 3. As you can see, many of the people represented on the BDCP “Management Committee” are the same folks who helped to engineer the collapse of Central Valley chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, striped bass, Sacramento splittail, green sturgeon and other fish species by pumping record amounts of water out of the estuary from 2003 to 2006 and an anticipated new record level of pumping this year. These are the same folks who want to build the peripheral canal or tunnel to facilitate increased water exports to southern California and agribusiness interests on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side.
Below are the interests represented on the Committee:
Natural Resources Agency: Jerry Meral and Karla Nemeth
Department of Fish and Game: Scott Cantrell
Department of Water Resources: Mark Cowin, Dale Hoffman-Florke, and Cathy Crothers
Bureau of Reclamation: Ron Milligan, Sue Fry, and Federico Barajas
Westlands Water District: Jason Peltier
Hallmark Group (a capital program and construction management company): Chuck Gardner
State Water Contractors: Laura King Moon
Science Applications International Corp.: Paul Cylinder
Metropolitan Water District: Steve Arakawa
Ebbin Moser & Skaggs LLP (specializing in environmental law and natural resources law): Marc Ebbin
Kern County Water Agency: Brent Walthall
Santa Clara Valley Water District: Joan Maher
Environmental Defense Fund: Spreck Rosecrans
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Michael Chotkowski, Jennifer Norris, and Dan Castleberry
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Maria Rea and Michael Tucker
The Nature Conservancy: Anthony Saracino (who is also, incidentally, the chair of the California Water Commission)
“Meetings are held bi-weekly and are open to the public,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “The ‘public’ includes all these interests that are NOT represented on the BDCP Management Committee.”
Who are the public?
Delta Reclamation Districts
Delta Water Agencies
The Delta Protection Commission
Delta Business Groups
Delta Marina Interests
Delta Fishing Groups
Coastal Fishing Groups
California Tribal Nations
California’s Environmental Justice Community
If the BDCP isn’t a rigged, orchestrated process to produce results detrimental to the interests of Delta residents, fishermen, family farmers, California Indian Tribes, environmental justice communities and the majority of Californians, I don’t know what is!
Meanwhile, Barrigan-Parrilla has criticized Laird for his “weasel words.”
As Delta Protection Commission chair Don Nottoli pointed out in a letter to Resources Secretary John Laird, “The current BDCP process, although heralded as a ‘fresh look,’ seems to be a continuation of the past process that will harm the lives and livelihood of the people who live in the Delta and shut out those people from full, fair and effective participation in the real decision-making processes. This current process will only serve to strengthen the resolve of the Delta to protect its interests by opposing any changes to the Delta, and possibly lead to litigation of the BDCP and the Delta Plan.”
Not to worry, said Laird in his reply. The management committee is charged mainly with “ministerial issues such as monitoring contract compliance and assisting the progress of the working groups.”
Laird continued, “I believe that the more important participation for the DPC is in the working groups that are actually going to recommend resolutions to the issues that are of greatest concern to Delta interests. I know Delta representatives are participating in these groups, and I hope that the fact that they have been brought into the policy discussions on issues most important to the Delta is fully understood, and would motivate participation in deciding those issues.”
What the heck?
“This is pretty ambiguous, a textbook example of using words to obscure and evade,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “Laird seems to be hoping that since the Resources Agency has brought Delta interests into working group discussions, the Water Contractors will let them participate in deciding BDCP policy issues.”
“Go ahead and hope, Mr. Secretary. But if you think the Water Contractors will monitor their own contract compliance without involvement by Delta interests, then you haven’t done your export water management homework,” she challenged Laird.
“We can help you understand how water exporters really think. Just take a look at what one of them had to say in a recent interview (http://www.familiesprotectingthevalley.com/topstory.php?ax=v&n=99&id=99&nid=2551),” she said.
As the classic song by The Who states so well, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
To read the newsletter and for more information about the campaign against the peripheral canal, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org
Webcasts of BDCP management committee meetings are available after the meetings. Find more information at this link: http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/Home.aspx