top
Central Valley
Central Valley
Indybay
Indybay
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Indybay
Regions
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
Topics
Newswire
Calendar
Features
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Battle Lines Are Drawn Over Peripheral Canal
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 7:44 AM
The battle lines are clearly being drawn between corporate environmentalists who are collaborating with the Governor and Legislature to destroy the California Delta by building a peripheral canal and the true defenders of fish and the environment - grassroots environmentalists, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, California Indian Tribes and Delta farmers.
Battle Lines Are Drawn Over Peripheral Canal

by Dan Bacher

The battle lines are clearly being drawn between corporate environmentalists who are collaborating with the Governor and Legislature to destroy the California Delta by building a peripheral canal and the true defenders of fish and the environment - grassroots environmentalists, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, California Indian Tribes and Delta farmers.

Gerald Meral, the former Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources and the former western water director of the Environmental Defense Fund, wrote an opinion piece in the San Jose Mercury News Tuesday backing the peripheral canal as the "solution" to the Delta's environmental problems and the South Bay's water needs, http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_13195188. Meral has been a long-time advocate of the peripheral canal and has played a key role in convincing some environmental NGOs to support the canal's construction.

Meral's article is a collection of lies regarding the Delta and the proposed canal starting with this false and misleading statement: "Farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are trying to convince other Northern Californians that the Peripheral Canal would be bad. But the narrow interests of the farmers do not coincide with the interests of people who live in the South Bay."

In reality, it is not just Delta farmers that are opposing the canal but a broad coalition including farmers, recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, California Indian Tribes and environmentalists that are opposing the "Big Ditch" supported by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senator Joe Simitian. These groups hardly represent "narrow interests." They are committed to stopping the collapse of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and southern resident killer whales caused by massive exports out of the largest estuary of the West Coast of the Americas.

With no evidence whatsoever to back his contentions, Meral then says the canal would "solve" an array of problems, including stopping water pollution, maintaining water supplies to South Bay cities and Central Valley agribusiness, addressing the risk of levee failure and stopping the massacre of salmon, smelt and other fish in the Delta pumps.

"Millions of young fish are sucked up and killed by the pumps," said Meral. "The Peripheral Canal would end this problem by restoring the natural flow direction in the delta channels."

What Meral fails to mention is that federal pumps in the South Delta would continue pumping water to corporate agribusiness while the canal intake on the Sacramento River would further endanger salmon and other migratory fish populations by sucking up millions of fish from the Sacramento system. Since the state and federal agencies have failed to install state of the art fish screens to protect salmon, Delta smelt and other fish on the existing state and federal pumps in the South Delta, are we to expect these same agencies to suddenly have a Damascus conversion and install effective fish screens on the canal intakes?

Meral then praises the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a corporate greenwashing process designed by Governor Schwarzenegger to build a peripheral canal at the expense of Delta farms and collapsing Delta fisheries. "To address this concern, a coalition of fish and wildlife agencies, conservation groups and water districts are developing a Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which would require sufficient water flows through the delta to restore endangered fish populations," claimed Meral.

While corporate environmentalists are working with the Governor, Legislature and federal government through the BDCP process to supply massive water exports to Westlands Water District and San Joaquin Valley corporate agribusiness at the expense of California fisheries, Delta farmers and the environment, the people of the Delta have been excluded from planning and decisions over the fate of the Delta in both the BDCP and Legislative process.

Meral finishes his piece by saying that "Senator Joe Simitian of Santa Clara County is taking a leadership position on this important issue and deserves the thanks of his constituents for his hard and effective work on water issues."

Actually, Simitian must be roundly condemned by all advocates of environmental justice for his role in giving Democratic cover to plans by the worst Governor for fish and the environment in California history, Arnold Schwarznegger, to destroy the Delta and build the peripheral canal!

I have two questions to ask Meral, Simitian and other peripheral canal advocates that have yet to be answered.

1. Can you give me one example, in U.S. or world history, where the construction of a diversion canal has resulted in less, rather than more, water being taken out of a river system?

2. Can you give me one example, In U.S. or world history, where the construction of a diversion canal has resulted in ecosystem restoration rather than ecosystem destruction?

On the same day, in contrast with the greenwashing of the canal by Meral, Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), released his statement criticizing a dangerous package of five water bills being heard in the Legislature this week. In his letter to Assemblyman Jared Huffman and Senator Fran Pavley, he blasted the legislation for weakening public trust law and the state water code while serving as the road map to the peripheral canal.

Jennings called for the joint committee to slow the fast-track process down. "CSPA appreciates the efforts to address California’s long-existing water crisis and looks forward to working with you and your colleagues in developing an improved legislative package," said Jennings. "However, we believe the remaining days before adjournment provide insufficient time achieve a comprehensive and effective solution."

Jennings cited a long list of reasons, led by his questioning of the legislature's handling of the Public Trust issue, to delay the bills until the spring session of the legislature. The concept of Public Trust extends throughout history all the way to Roman Law and has been continuously strengthened including sections of the Magna Carta. The doctrine is based on the principle that certain resources are preserved for public use and that the government is required to maintain it for the public's reasonable use, according to Jerry Neuburger, CSPA webmaster.

In California, all surface water falls within the doctrine of the Public Trust as do the fisheries, including the once robust runs of the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems. In other words, the waters and fisheries of the state are owned by the citizens of the state and held in trust for them by the state government.

"The bills represent the first time the legislative has expressed its intent of the Public Trust," stated Jennings. "The Public Trust represents the people’s common property right in rivers and estuaries and establishes the baseline or minimal standards that must be met before water is available for private use. The bills diminish that protection by establishing water supply reliability as coequal with protection of the public trust."

Other areas of contention included sections on governance, a lack of definition of terms, a lack of set standards, the surrender of the responsibilities of delta governance to a select commission with four members appointed by the governor and the likelihood of the commission's aggressive pursuit of a peripheral canal.

While Meral is busy supporting the Governor and Legislators in their campaign to hammer the final nails into the coffin of Bay-Delta Estuary fisheries, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Restore the Delta and a broad coalition of fishing, environmental, farming and tribal groups are standing up to defend the fish and the Delta.

If you want to help save the Delta and stop the peripheral canal, sign a petition and send a letter to your Legislators by going to http://www.calsport.org.

For Jennings' complete statement, go to: http://www.calsport.org/CSPAComments-SB1-AB1.pdf.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Zachary Byron
Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 9:26 AM
"With no evidence whatsoever to back his contentions, Meral then says the canal would "solve" an array of problems, including stopping water pollution, maintaining water supplies to South Bay cities and Central Valley agribusiness, addressing the risk of levee failure and stopping the massacre of salmon, smelt and other fish in the Delta pumps. "

Mr. Bacher, like all fundamentalists in the world refuses to allow science or facts to intrude on his position.

The evidence he claims is lacking that supports Dr. Meral's assertions is provided by the Public Policy Institute of California http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp, including top geologists, hydrologists, fisheries biologists and economists from UC Berkeley, and UC Davis (head of the Water Resources Center)as well as the Blue Ribbon Task Force Foundation, which includes the head of the Boalt Hall Water and Resource Center. The massive and years long studies by both entities, as well as the Delta Risk Management Study (found on the DWR website) on seismic and climate change risks facing the Delta, all back Dr. Meral's position. Mr. Bacher's peer reviewed evidence consists of what exactly? Other than invective calling all who disagree with him corporate environmentalists, I'm not sure what he has as evidence.

The corporate environmentalists that Mr. Bacher dismisses so derisively: Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Heritage Institute, Bay Institue, American Rivers, and Defenders of Wildlife!

by Dan Bacher
Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 2:16 PM
Peripheral Canal advocates are the real fundamentalists!

Hey Zachary

Actually it is canal supporters like yourself and Meral that are the true “fundamentalists.” Meral’s position on the canal has no basis in science – only an extremely flawed report based on highly suspect funding and exaggerated and fabricated data. The PPIC report is a parody of science – and the scientists who participated in this study should be ashamed of themselves.

First, the PPIC report was funded by Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. (born 1925) is, who with his son Riley, is co-owner of the Bechtel Corporation. The other funding source was the Packard Foundation. The Bechtel Corporation is notorious for engaging in environmentally destructive construction and water privatization schemes all over the planet for decades, including their failed attempt to privatize the water supply in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

How can a group of “scientists” produce a scientifically valid and objective report when the report is being funded by one of the worst and most destructive corporations in the world – a company that could have a vested interest in the building of the canal? Do you really think that what you describe as the “top geologists, hydrologists, fisheries biologists and economists from UC Berkeley and UC Davis (head of the Water Resources Center) as well as the Blue Ribbon Task Force Foundation” would even think of writing a report dismissing the canal as a worthwhile project when the study is being funded by the world’s largest construction firm?

Who are you kidding? The PPIC report was based on “science,” but unfortunately it was “political science,” not “natural science.” Jeffrey Mount and his fellow scientists want to build a peripheral canal – and they used the data to back up their pre-determined agenda!

Second, Dr. Jeffrey A. Michael, Director of the Business Forecasting Center and Associate Professor of the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, on October 23 published a superb study challenging the badly flawed economic data contained in the cPPIC report. The report, "The Economics of Ending Delta Water Exports Versus the Peripheral Canal: Checking the Data of the PPIC," harshly criticizes the report for using "fabricated" and "exaggerated" data to push for the construction of a peripheral canal. To read a copy of the report, go to http://www.calsport.org/11-7-08.pdf.

Before you spout off with baseless contentions that enshrine the panel of scientists that produced the PPIC report as some sort of august body of scientific deities, maybe you should actually look into the funding behind the report and the fabricated and exaggerated data contained in it.

We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!

Donate

donate now

$ 174.50 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.

Publish

Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network