SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections

Any water bond with tunnels mitigation is not 'tunnels neutral'
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Jul 10th, 2014 7:51 AM
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. There is no doubt that the tunnels and Shasta Dam raise plans constitute cultural genocide against the Winnemem Wintu and other Northern California Tribes.

Any water bond with tunnels mitigation is not 'tunnels neutral'

by Dan Bacher

Responding to recent water bond proposals by the State Senate and Governor Jerry Brown, Restore the Delta (RTD) on July 8 said that “any state water bond that includes mitigation for the damage from the tunnels project is not ‘tunnels neutral’.”

“The tunnels cannot be built without hundreds of millions of dollars to fund ‘mitigation’ or ‘restoration’ of the project's damage, damage the water-takers refuse to pay, and are foisting onto taxpayers," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director. "Naming mitigation ‘restoration’ does not cure its purpose: helping to pave the way for the tunnels. We also know that existing Delta restoration projects have not produced the positive results for fisheries that they promised. A bond with more restoration money, will simply result in throwing good money after bad.”

“Tunnels-enabling funds would doom the water bond that we all need to address our water crisis. We call upon the governor and legislature to omit any funds required to mitigate or restore tunnels damage."

She noted that "tunnels neutral" equals levee repair, while "tunnels enabling" equals the restoration of wetlands and habitat to compensate for tunnel construction and taking of needed river water flows to the Delta.

To recap recent events regarding the water bond, State Senator Lois Wolk on Thursday, July 3 reintroduced a revised Senate Bill 848, responding to requests by Governor Jerry Brown for a more scaled-down bond.

The bill is set at $7.5 billion, $3 billion less than her previous $10.5 billion bond measure, but $1.5 billion more than the $6 billion bond that Governor Jerry Brown outlined in a series of private conversations with legislators after Wolk’s previous bond failed to get the necessary two-thirds supermajority vote to move it forward.

The legislature is currently in recess, but Senator Darrell Steinberg vowed that "we intend to come back in August and do our very best to get this done."

“This revised version of SB 848 responds to the Governor’s desire for a smaller bond while remaining a comprehensive approach to addressing the state’s critical water needs,” said Senator Lois Wolk. “At $7.5 billion, SB 848 maintains funding for statewide priorities including water quality and supply reliability projects. The Senate bond continues to help communities enhance their water supply and prepare for drought. It funds storage projects at the same level proposed by the Governor. And, critically, it continues to be tunnel neutral.”

Wolk said the revised Senate bond includes $7.5 billion in funding for a “broad range of projects to address California’s critical water needs.” Categories were cut by a proportional amount, with the exception of funding for some high priority areas including groundwater sustainability and recycled water.

Wolk and other Senators say the 2009 proposal, which includes funding to mitigate the harmful environmental impacts of the BDCP, needs to be replaced since it will face almost certain doom at the ballot box in November.

The current water bond on the November ballot was created as part of a water policy/water bond package passed by the Legislature in a special session called by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in November 2009. The water bond was rescheduled twice, first in 2010 and then again in 2012, due to strong opposition to provisions in the bond that facilitate the construction of the twin tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The Governor’s Office has to date declined to comment on the specifics of his water bond proposal or Work's revised bill.

Jim Evans, spokesman for the Governor's office, said on July 7, "Generally, the administration doesn’t comment on pending legislation."

He said the last comment he sent to me - which was generally about water bond discussions – still holds:

"The Governor is concerned about ongoing debt service and its impact on future budgets."

However, Brown's outline for a $6 billion water bond to replace the $11.1 billion bond currently on the November ballot has been widely circulated to legislators, stakeholders and the media.

His outline for the "Water Action Plan Financing Act of 2014" includes $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.

The outline claims the Governor's water bond would be "BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan) neutral," but Restore the Delta disagrees. 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. “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," Barrigan-Parrilla stated. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/06/27/18757969.php)

Big rally against the tunnels set for July 29!

July 29 will be the last day for public comment on Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels.

I urge everybody to join Restore the Delta at a rally marking this date and in raising the ongoing message “NO TUNNELS!”

"We are at a critical time in the BDCP twin tunnels process–we must make our opposition against the tunnels seen and heard throughout the state," according to an announcement by Restore the Delta. "We need all supporters to show up in large numbers to show how unpopular these tunnels really are. Save the date, share our event, and plan to join us."

The twin tunnels won't create one drop of new water, but they will lead to horrendous environmental degradation. 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 river.

Brown' "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.

The habitat "restoration" proposed under this project will greenwash this project, just like the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative's so-called "marine protected areas" greenwashed fracking, pollution and other environmentally destructive activities off the California coast. In a surrealistic scenario, 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. There is no doubt that the tunnels and Shasta Dam raise plans constitute cultural genocide against the Winnemem Wintu and other Northern California Tribes.

I strongly urge you to attend this rally to show the Governor that you strongly oppose the environmental devastation and cultural genocide that will be caused by this plan.

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, emphasizes the danger that the peripheral tunnels pose to California’s fish, people and rivers.

“The common people will pay for the peripheral tunnels project and a few people will make millions,” says Sisk. “It will turn a once pristine water way into a sewer pipe. It will be all bad for the fish, the ocean and the people of California.”

Here are all of the details:

DATE: Tuesday, July 29th
LOCATION: West Steps of State Capitol, 10th St and Capitol Street, Sacramento
TIME: 11:30 AM

Download and share the flyer. More details to come on speakers and live music.

If you are an organization interested in tabling or speaking, please e-mail Stina [at] RestoretheDelta.org and/or Javier [at] RestoretheDelta.org.

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.

Buses will be departing at 9:30 AM. RSVP is required for bus rides and must be submitted by July 21, 2014. A $10 donation is required for bus ride, however we will not turn you away if you cannot make the donation.

BUS DEPARTING LOCATIONS
(1) OAKLEY: Lauritzen Yacht Harbor, 115 Lauritzen Ln, Oakley, CA – parking spots will also be available.
(2) STOCKTON: AG Spanos Parking Lot, 10100 Trinity Parkway, Suite 120, Stockton, CA – parking spots are available in the highlighted areas (see map).

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL RALLY ATTENDEES
1. Bring snacks and drinks to stay hydrated and energized.
2. Dress appropriately for hot summer weather.
3. Bring handmade signs opposing the tunnels.
4. If you have not made a public comment yet, you still have time to make one: http://restorethedelta.org/how-to-comment-on-bdcp/

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