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The MLPA Process and Peripheral Canal: One Ugly, Environmentally Injust Process

by Dan Bacher
Make no mistake about it - Governor Arnold Schwarznegger's MLPA and peripheral canal boondoggles are effectively one and the same process.

Photo: Arnold Schwarzenegger leaned on the Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to ramrod a peripheral canal/bonds package through the Legislature early Wednesday morning that will likely result in the destruction of collapsing Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations.
The MLPA Process and Peripheral Canal: One Ugly, Environmentally Injust Process

by Dan Bacher

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) and peripheral canal boondoggles, although they may be at first appear to be different issues, are effectively one and the same process. The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, the League of Conservation Voters, the Nature Conservancy, NRDC and their corporate buddies have collaborated with Schwarzenegger to engineer both processes with no regard for local communities or environmental justice.

Mike Carpenter, a sea urchin diver and organizer of a recent fundraiser for the California Fisheries Coalition in Albion on the Mendocino coast, made the vital connection between the MLPA process and Scharzenegger's campaign to build a peripheral canal. Carpenter emphasized that the MLPA is just a "cover-up" for the Governor's plans to build a peripheral canal around the California Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, through the Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process.

The peripheral canal and MLPA process are intimately linked by:

(1) Leadership: Phil Isenberg presided over both the Central Coast MLPA and the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Forces - and did an equally atrocious job of "leading" both processes.

(2) Funding: The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation has funded both the MLPA process and the Delta Vision Foundation, along with giving millions of dollars to the "environmental" NGO's that are slavishly supporting both processes.

(3) Greenwashing: Desperately needed actions to restore our ocean, bay and Delta waters have been substituted under the MLPA process with the imposition of new, redundant fishing closures on the most heavily regulated ocean waters on the planet to further the Governor's "green" facade. In the case of the Delta Vision and BDCP processes, the dire need to restore the Delta by decreasing water exports and retiring drainage impaired land on the San Joaquin Valley's west side has been substituted with plans to build a peripheral canal and increase water exports to corporate agribusiness and southern California while taking Delta family farms out of production and converting them to salt marsh.

(4) Racism and Environmental Elitism: Tribal and environmental justice communities in both processes have been excluded in an egregious, disgusting example of environmental racism.

The racism of the current MLPA process become apparent when the Kashia Pomo Tribe was banned from harvesting abalone, mussels and seaweed off Stewarts Point Reservation, as they have done for hundreds of years, by the California Fish and Game Commission at their meeting in August.

“What you are doing to us is taking the food out of our mouths,” said Lester Pinola, the past chairman of the Kashia Rancheria in a public hearing prior to the contentious vote. “When the first settlers came to the coast, they didn’t how to feed themselves. Our people showed them how to eat out of the ocean. In my opinion, this was a big mistake.”

While corporate environmentalists and the Schwarzenegger administration are pushing for further "no take" marine reserves in a largely recovered groundfish fishery, Central Valley salmon, delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, southern resident killer whales, herring and other species have collapsed to record low population levels in recent years, due to massive exports of water to corporate agribusiness by the state and federal governments. These are species that are nearing extinction!

Yet the same Packard Foundation and Resource Legacy Fund Foundation-funded NGOs that are so fervent about supporting the corrupt MLPA process and praising Schwarzenegger for his "green" leadership supported the water package, passed by the Legislature early Wednesday morning, that will result in the construction of the canal, an enormously costly project that would seal the doom of collapsing salmon and Delta fish populations.

Fortunately, North Coast grassroots environmentalists, Indian Tribes, commercial fishermen and recreational anglers and are now united with southern California fishermen, surfers and kayakers in opposing the current unjust implementation of the MLPA and Schwarzenegger's attempt to greenwash his failed environmental policies. They realize that there is nothing "green" about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor for fish and the environment in California history.

To oppose the peripheral canal is to oppose the corrupt MLPA process and to oppose the MLPA process is to oppose the peripheral canal.
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by Cegull
Allowing the ocean to rest is with nature. By-passing the delta is against nature. The management agencies finally woke up to the fact that bottom trawling was destroying the ocean's productivity and took action. Whether or not this includes real inforcement I have no idea. The Nature Conservancy stepped in and has become a fishing broker of sorts by buying marine fishing licenses and leasing a portion back to fisherman. It seems that TNC is taking over state and federal responsibilty by doing this. A sort of private mega corporate take over of sorts. The agencies that were supposed to protect fisheries and other resources could not do it. So now some of that responsibility is falling to a private organization.

I cannot really think of appropriate metaphors for the stupidity of the peripheral canal. It is so directly against nature that it cannot succeed. A real COYOTE story. The Sacramento River is still seen as a huge canal which can be extended farther south. A real river lives and breaths and goes through cycles. A concrete/steel walled canal is dead.

It is true that when the gavel of a regulating body falls these days it usually places pentalties on the smaller constituents that should weigh more heavily on the larger constituents that caused the problem in the first place. My own water district being very small has had to finance the drilling of wells because CVP water was rationed in a simplistic iron fisted manner by BOR. Now, in the time of economic calamity getting an acre foot of well water costs $300 instead of getting CVP water for $75. Agencies will never really own up to their ingrown prejudices. I hear people say stuff like "hey the Indians have casinos now, they don't need any help". The legislature seems no better than that in ancient rome. THe romans thought that the forest dwellers to the north were very stupid for not cutting down all the trees to use in industry. So now the legislature is essentially killing the Sacramento River and the Delta-Bay area in one blow, then they will demean the people who were negatively effected by their decisions. I guess they flunked history-if they went to school that is.
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