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Bechtel and Packard funded report greenwashes the peripheral canal
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Mar 3rd, 2011 7:32 PM
The PPIC book is funded by some of the worst corporate greenwashers on the planet, including the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pisces Foundation, the Resources Legacy Fund, and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority.
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Bechtel and Packard funded report greenwashes the peripheral canal

by Dan Bacher

It's been four years now since the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) published "Envisioning Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta." Right from the start, S. D. Bechtel and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, a money laundering operation for corporations according to North Coast environmental leader John Lewallen, have been pushing this ongoing initiative to frame California's discussion of the Delta as "doomed."

"The original document explored nine alternative 'futures,' each conceptual, each an exaggeration stripped of practicality or opportunities for compromise," said Jane Wagner-Tyack of Restore the Delta. "In that document, the authors wrote the score for the song sheet they have been singing from so successfully ever since: the fragile, unsustainable Delta; seismic threat; catastrophic levee failure; inevitable loss of species; failing governance; crisis, crisis, crisis; conflict, conflict, conflict."

"The PPIC's latest effort, 500 pages long and sprinkled with nice photographs, is more of the same, although they've zoomed out here to include much of the rest of California," she stated.

The proposed "solution" to the "doomed" Delta is to build a peripheral canal/tunnel to export more Delta water to corporate agribusiness and southern California while taking Delta farms out of production to create a so-called "eco-friendly" Delta.

Wagner-Tyack said the "Eco-Delta" of the 2007 report has been modified into an "eco-friendly" Delta with ten or so south Delta islands designated as "open water. Bethel Island and Hotchkiss Tract are designated for "humans and wildlife," but with the altered hydrology of being surrounded by open water, it doesn't seem like they would survive long. "This is the kind of idea that only makes sense from way up in the air," she explained.

Wagner-Tyack emphasized that respect for local problem-solving is "missing almost by definition" from the kinds of academic reports the PPIC produces.

"But the reports work well as fodder for media commentary and as support for grandiose legislative initiatives. Heaven forbid that we actually solve these problems. What would happen to this little cottage industry of Delta doomsingers?" she asked.

The book is funded by some of the worst corporate greenwashers on the planet, including the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pisces Foundation, the Resources Legacy Fund, and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority.

The David and Lucille Packard Foundation and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation also privately fund Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, a parallel process to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal. The MLPA Initiative creates a network of fake "marine protected areas" that remove sustainable fishermen, Tribal members and seaweed harvesters from the water while doing nothing to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, water pollution, wave energy development, corporate aquaculture, military testing and habitat protection.

Fishermen, Tribal members and grassroots environmentalists have slammed the privatized MLPA process for conflicts of interests, institutional racism and violations of numerous state, federal and international laws. The illegitimate, top-down MLPA process is overseen by an oil industry lobbyist, real estate executive, marina developer and other corporate operatives, hardly "marine guardians" who "protect" the ocean. Unfortunately, "Gang Green" corporate environmentalists collaborated with the worst Governor for fish and the environment in California history, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to fast-track this corporate funded ocean privatization scheme.

In both the MLPA Initiative and the campaign to build the peripheral canal/tunnel, so-called "scientists" have been bought and paid for by the corporate-founded foundations whose agenda is to privatize the public trust. This may be "science," but it's political science, not natural science, that is funded by greenwashers like Bechtel, Packard, Intel, Getty Oil to advance pre-determined conclusions designed to promote the corporate agenda.

Here is the complete report about the PPIC "book launch" - designed to greenwash the construction of a peripheral canal and the destruction of the Delta - from Jane Wagner-Tyack of Restore the Delta. This excellent report is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the Delta, Central Valley salmon and democracy - and wants to stop the state and federal government campaign to build a peripheral canal/tunnel:

A special report from Jane Wagner-Tyack, Restore the Delta

It seems to us we've heard that song before

When Governor Schwarzenegger showed the Delta to visiting journalists from outside California, he did it from a helicopter flying over the region.

Even then, though, he was closer than most of the academics who are continuing to pad their professional resumes by writing about the Delta for the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). They seem to be viewing the region from about 50,000 feet.

Last week the PPIC entertained 350 people at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento for what was basically a book launch of their latest tome, "Managing California's Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation." Attendees enjoyed lunch and panel discussions courtesy of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pisces Foundation, The Resources Legacy Fund, and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority. These days, the sponsors are happy to have their names attached, whereas formerly, one had to dig to identify them.

Its been four years now since the PPIC published "Envisioning Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta," and right from the start, S. D. Bechtel and the Resources Legacy Fund have been pushing this ongoing initiative to frame California's discussion of the Delta as doomed.

The original document explored nine alternative "futures," each conceptual, each an exaggeration stripped of practicality or opportunities for compromise. In that document, the authors wrote the score for the song sheet they have been singing from so successfully ever since: the fragile, unsustainable Delta; seismic threat; catastrophic levee failure; inevitable loss of species; failing governance; crisis, crisis, crisis; conflict, conflict, conflict.

The PPIC's latest effort, 500 pages long and sprinkled with nice photographs, is more of the same, although they've zoomed out here to include much of the rest of California.

The "Eco-Delta" of the 2007 report has been modified into an "eco-friendly" Delta with ten or so south Deltas islands designated as "open water." Bethel Island and Hotchkiss Tract are designated for "humans and wildlife," but with the altered hydrology of being surrounded by open water, it doesn't seem like they would survive long. This is the kind of idea that only makes sense from way up in the air.

The proposed "eco-friendly" Delta would support "new, novel habitats (flooded islands) that have no natural equivalent, as well as species of plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates from all over the world." You know, sort of an aquatic zoo. So much for Delta restoration.

(To take a look at the "co-friendly Delta," you can download the full report from the PPIC website. The map is Figure 5.3 on page 220. You'll find the zoo on page 219.)

In the interest of ecosystem preservation, the authors might be willing to sacrifice a few species. Abstract and judicial, this suggestion concedes the battle before it has been intelligently fought.

The report seems almost hostile to California agriculture. In introductory remarks, Ellen Hanak praised water marketing as "a good way to move water away from low value crops to high value crops and urban uses." If this looks like a slippery slope, with water increasingly flowing toward export almonds and desert subdivisions, that's because from an economist's perspective agriculture is, well, not a big economic driver. Asked about the effect of this kind of market on food supply, Hanak spoke warmly of eco-tourism.

To be fair, the PPIC invited panelists who didn't necessarily agree with the report's recommendations.

Chapter 5 of the report deals with "reconciling" ecosystems - a favorite idea of author Peter Moyle. NRDC attorney and Delta Stewardship Council member Felicia Marcus (taking a break that morning from the DSC meeting running concurrently) said that Chapter 5 irritated her. She advised against focusing on the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act as enemies.

And Moyle himself admitted that "we haven't applied available tools effectively." Yes, we could insist on enforcement of the Water Code.

The PPIC has a grand scheme for fixing governance ("reshaping water institutions"). They echo a recent report by the Little Hoover Commission in recommending that the State Water Project be separated from DWR and made an independent public benefit corporation, like the Independent System Operator that manages California's power transmission. The State Water Resources Control Board would be merged with sections of DWR that don't relate to running the SWP, including the regional water boards. The Fish and Game Commission would be merged with the Department of Fish and Game.

Panelist and former Resources Director Lester Snow, now a consultant to the Resources Legacy Fund, noted that in his experience, reorganizations of this kind are effective in inverse proportion to how difficult they are.

And panelist Martha Davis of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency commented that changing institutional structures should not be the main focus of governance efforts. She suggested that we ask "What are our goals as a state?" Do we need a new authority, she asked, or do we need to make better use of the institutions we have and encourage creative problem-solving at the local level.

This respect for local problem-solving is missing almost by definition from the kinds of academic reports the PPIC produces. But the reports work well as fodder for media commentary and as support for grandiose legislative initiatives.

Heaven forbid that we actually solve these problems. What would happen to this little cottage industry of Delta doomsingers?

We don't want to be churlish, though. Thank you for lunch.

In Stark Contrast

Thank you to the hundreds of Restore the Delta supporters who attended our Art, Wine, and Edible Delight event this past Saturday. Michael Prietti and Pat Livingston's photography, the Americana music of Mom's Chili Boys, the fabulous Delta wines from Heringer, Carvalho, and Solomon Wineries, and the great spread from Husick's Catering, the Monterey Fish Market, Golden State Fruit, and Kobasic's Candies remind us all why we are so proud of our home. The Delta is a place of a true community, splendid creativity, wonderful wine, and real local food.

This is why the Delta must be preserved and protected. It already is a model of a strong local economy, sustainable agriculture, unsurpassable recreation, and world class fishing. Preserving the Delta is about protecting our food security, our homes, our fisheries, and our way of life.

This is why improving the Delta, by permanently reducing water exports, upgrading levees, creating habitat in ways that enhance and protect local agriculture, and enhancing local governance, is so vitally important for our future.

Let the doomsingers wallow in their gloom. What they don't understand is that the Delta holds the blueprint for building a sustainable American future.

This is why the Delta is worth fighting for. And this is what the Delta community is rallying to do!

To learn more about a sustainable Delta future and to give input to a potential local Delta Plan, come to Restore the Delta's Community Meeting on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 from 6:30 to 8 pm. Dr. Robert Pyke will present his vision for the Delta's sustainable future. This event is free and open to Restore the Delta members, friends of Restore the Delta, local Delta government officials, the press, and interested Delta community residents and business leaders. It will be held at The Reserve at Spanos Park, 6301 W. Eight Mile Rd., Stockton, CA 95219.
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The Goal of BechtelDan Bacher Wednesday Mar 9th, 2011 10:04 AM
H20 for the TakingC-gullMonday Mar 7th, 2011 10:01 PM
Not sure I get it ...An enquiring mindFriday Mar 4th, 2011 6:24 AM