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Rep. Matsui asks Governor to postpone BDCP document release
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday Sep 3rd, 2013 5:13 PM
“We request that you postpone the release of the BDCP management plan until all stakeholders are at the table, sound science is conducted, and a workable financing plan is developed,” the letter from Representatives Doris Matsui (CA-06), George Miller (CA-11), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), John Garamendi (CA-03), Anna Eshoo (CA-18) and Ami Bera (CA-07) stated.

Photo of Rep. Doris Matsui at a press conference on the banks of the Sacramento River with other northern California Congress Members on May 31 by Dan Bacher.

Rep. Matsui asks Governor to postpone BDCP document release

by Dan Bacher

Expressing “deep concerns” regarding the assumption that federal funding will be required to construct the peripheral tunnels, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06) and six other Representatives sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown asking him to postpone the release of Bay Delta Conservation Plan documents.

Representatives George Miller (CA-11), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), John Garamendi (CA-03), Anna Eshoo (CA-18) and Ami Bera (CA-07) also signed the letter.

The state of California plans to release its draft BDCP Plan for public comment on October 1, 2013, just a month from the date of the legislators' letter, August 30.

The letter was released a time when a revised tunnel plan, supposedly developed to have less impact upon North Delta communities, faces increased scrutiny, due to the destructive impacts it would have upon sandhilll cranes on Staten Island. (http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/01/5698188/new-water-tunnel-route-sets-up.html)

“Given the deep cuts to the federal budget over the past few years and the parameters of sequestration, the letter expresses concern with the assumption that federal funding for the BDCP will take over other important national infrastructure and conservation priorities,” according to a news release from Matsui’s office.

The legislators point to the BDCP's draft of Chapter 8, which assumes that up to $4 billion in federal funding will be set aside for the construction of the BDCP project.

“We believe this is an unrealistic assumption given historical funding levels of established programs, severe budget cuts, other commitments by federal agencies for this funding, and our overall concern that the BDCP process is not being governed by sound science,” the letter stated.

They said Chapter 8 specifically identifies federal funding accounts that will require appropriations to specifically be designated for the BDCP, including the following:

CVPIA – Central Valley Project Improvement Act Restoration Fund (USBOR)
CA Bay-Delta Restoration Appropriations (USBOR)
Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (USFWS)
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (USFWS)
National Coastal Wetlands conservation grants (USFWS)
CA Bay-Delta Restoration Appropriations (USFWS)
Regional Ecosystem Conservation (NMFS)
Estuary Restoration Act (NMFS)
National/Regional Partnership Grants (NMFS)
CA Bay-Delta Restoration Appropriations (NMFS)
CA Bay-Delta Restoration Appropriations (USACE)
San Francisco Bay Area Water Quality Improvement Fund (USEPA)
CA Bay-Delta Restoration Fund (USEPA)
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (NRCS)
Wetlands Reserve Program (NRCS)
CA Bay-Delta Restoration Appropriations (NRCS)
CA Bay-Delta Restoration Appropriations (USGS)

“Despite meetings with senior federal and state officials to discuss our concerns, we continue to believe the current BDCP plan and process are deeply flawed and do not warrant federal funding at this time, especially to the levels called out for in the draft plan," the letter stated. "Additionally, Northern California stakeholders continue to be left out of the process. The lack of involvement is particularly troubling given that the State plans to release its draft BDCP Plan for public comment on October 1, 2013."

“We request that you postpone the release of the BDCP management plan until all stakeholders are at the table, sound science is conducted, and a workable financing plan is developed,” they said.

The complete letter is available here: http://matsui.house.gov/press-releases/rep-matsui-leads-letter-expressing-concern-with-assumption-of-federal-funding-for-bdcp/

Governor Jerry Brown is fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in order to export massive quantities of water to corporate agribusiness interests and oil companies seeking to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/07/the-ocean-frackers)

The construction of the tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as pose enormous risk to sandhill crane populations.

The “changed” Delta plan released on August 14 does not change the fact that 48 significant and unavoidable impacts that are identified in the BDCP will be inflicted on Delta communities, fisheries, farms, and boaters, according to tunnel critics.

“This new proposal does not even consider the significant harm that would come to sandhill cranes that nest on Staten Island,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “These magnificent birds will do even worse than Delta residents with around the clock construction noise, traffic, and tunnel muck, disrupting their nursing areas.”

“Jerry Meral refuses to acknowledge these 48 significant and unavoidable impacts publicly; he directed Dr. David Sunding to ignore these impacts in the incomplete economic analysis released last week; and this latest attempt to sell the plan as improved points to new disasters in the making,” according to Barrigan-Parrilla.

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