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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Central Valley | U.S. | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
Schwarzenegger Launches Green Corps As California Fisheries Collapse
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger launched his "Green Corps" today, another cynical ploy by Schwarzenegger to cast himself as the "Green Governor" when he is in fact the worst-ever Governor for fish and the environment in California history.
Governor Schwarzenegger discusses the California Green Corps. From left to right: California Community Colleges Chancellor Dr. Jack Scott, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. Photo from the Governor's Office.
Schwarzenegger Launches Green Corps As California Fisheries Collapse
by Dan Bacher
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has presided over the unprecedented collapse of Central Valley Chinook salmon, delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish populations while gutting the Department of Fish and Game, tried yet again to cast himself in the role of the "Green Governor" by launching the "California Green Corps" Tuesday.
Schwarzenegger announced the formation of the corps immediately after meeting with President Obama’s Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in Sacramento to discuss federal economic stimulus funding and job creation. In yet another cynical attempt to add a green veneer to the worst-ever administration for fish and the environment in California history, Schwarzenegger claimed that the California Green Corps "will place at-risk young adults aged 16-24 into jobs in California’s emerging green economy."
“President Obama and I share similar priorities right now when it comes to helping the economy rebound and creating a greener California and America,” contended Governor Schwarzenegger. “In California we will utilize federal economic stimulus funds and public-private partnerships to help stimulate our economy while initiating actions to improve our environment. Green jobs are exactly what our economy and environment need right now – and the California Green Corps targets that need while helping at-risk young adults realize a brighter future.”
He said the "initial phase" of the California Green Corps will consist of a 20-month pilot program reaching at least 1,000 of California’s at-risk young adults. It will invest "at least $10 million in federal economic stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Labor and an additional $10 million from public-private partnerships."
The program will consist of a minimum of 10 regional Green Corps throughout the state – with at least one regional Green Corps located in each of California’s nine economic regions. All programs will be "public-private partnerships" that include green job training, a stipend, an educational requirement and community service.
"To help ensure the success of the Green Corps, it will be housed under CaliforniaVolunteers – an agency in a unique position to leverage federal economic stimulus funding and to work with public-private partnerships and across state agencies," according to the Governor. "This program furthers the goals of California’s Green Collar Jobs Council which was created when the Governor signed Assembly Bill 3018 in September 2008. The Council is charged with developing a comprehensive approach to address the workforce needs associated with California’s emerging green economy."
"We will need construction workers, cost estimators, energy analysts, computer technicians, salespersons, scientists, engineers, and many others," according to a corps facts sheet.
I'm a big supporter of "green jobs," but under this Governor, what will the young "Green Corps" members be forced to do? Will he force them to fulfill his "Delta Vision" of a creating a dead estuary by training them as construction workers, engineers and cost estimators engaged in building a peripheral canal and more dams as part of a "public-private partnership? Will they be trained as salespersons and scientists to market the "need" to build the canal and dams to the media and the public?
Will they be forced to work as engineers and construction workers on cosmetic, greenwashing "habitat restoration" projects that make streams look pretty while their fish populations die as the water is diverted for corporate agriculture and urban development?
Will they go distribute notices to Delta farmers informing them that their lands are going to be seized by eminent domain because they are on the route of the peripheral canal? Will the Governator have them take down levees to make sections of the Delta into salt marsh, rather than the fresh and brackish water habitat the Delta has been historically?
Since the governor has vetoed legislation twice limiting the environmentally destructive practice of suction dredge gold mining mining, will he order corps members to conduct "outreach" on the state's rivers and streams to promote suction dredging regardless of its impact on endangered salmon, lampreys and green sturgeon?
Will Schwarzenegger command the corps to clean up all of the dead, rotting chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, delta smelt, longfin smelt, striped bass, green sturgeon and other species that will result from his persistent advancing of the interests of the timber industry, corporate agribusiness and developers over fish and wildlife?
Will the corps members be hired to serve as de facto enforcement officers to patrol the state's growing marine protected areas that kick sustainable fishermen and seaweed harvesters off the water? After all, California already has the worst wardens per capita ratio in the United and 98 wardens and cadets recently received layoff notices, resulting in an epidemic of fish and wildlife poaching, and patrolling redundant MPAs would be a "wise" use of the corps members time!
Of course, I know that many will laud the Governor for launching the "Green Corps." However, anybody that takes even a cursory look at the state of California's fish populations will realize that there is nothing "green" about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Federal and state scientists estimate that only 66,264 natural and hatchery adult fall Chinooks returned to the Sacramento River basin in 2008, the lowest spawning escapement on record. Recreational and commercial fishing in ocean waters off California and most of Oregon and was closed for the first time in history in 2008 and is expected to be closed again this year.
While the Bush and Schwarzenegger administrations claimed "ocean conditions" were the cause of the collapse, respected scientists, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, environmentalists and members of California Indian Tribes point to massive increases in water exports and the mismanagement of Central Valley dam operations as key factors behind the decline.
The DFG's 2008 fall mid-water trawl survey shows abundance estimates for delta smelt, American shad, Sacramento splittail and threadfin shad to be the lowest in 41 years. The longfin smelt indices are the fourth lowest on record and young of the year striped bass abundance estimates are the sixth lowest. (For more information, go to http://www.calsport.org). Again, record water exports and mismanagement of dam operations under the Bush and Schwarzenegger administrations, along with increases in toxics and invasive species, are the primary reasons behind the collapse of these species.
It will be interesting to see what the Governor and his staff really mean by training people in "green jobs." If Schwarzenegger's past performance is any indication, the California Green Corps will end up being yet one more carefully calculated greenwashing scheme by the Governor to divert attention from his deplorable management of California fish and the environment!
For additional information about the California Green Corps please visit: http://gov.ca.gov/fact-sheet/11753.