From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: California | Central Valley | North Coast | Santa Cruz Indymedia | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
The Greenwashing of Governor Jerry Brown
by Dan Bacher
Wednesday Nov 13th, 2013 10:53 AM
On March 26, 2012, I received a media advisory from the Governor's office stating that "Governor Edmund G. Brown will attend a reception commemorating Ocean Day this evening sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he will receive the 2012 Ocean Champion Award." The event was held that evening at 6 p.m. at the Sutter Club in Sacramento.

However, the release noted, "This event is closed to the press."
The Greenwashing of Governor Jerry Brown

‘Right Stuff’ award in 2013 preceded by ‘Ocean Champion’ award in 2012

By Dan Bacher

The Blue Green Alliance on October 17, 2013 greenwashed Governor Jerry Brown's terrible environmental record by giving Brown the "Right Stuff" award for his alleged "environmental leadership" just a month after he signed Senate Bill 4, Senator Fran Pavley's green light for fracking bill.

Faced with a protest of over 60 indigenous leaders, environmental advocates and labor activists, Brown decided to not show at the gala dinner at Le Parc Hotel in San Francisco that evening. (

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, urged Brown to reject REDD+ carbon trading credits, which allow corporations to grab huge swaths of land in developing countries in order to keep polluting at home, endangering indigenous communities and the environment across the globe.

“Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples,” said Goldtooth. “The policy privatizes the air we breath. Commodifies the clouds. Buys and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the sacred.” (

Michael Preston, from the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, spoke out against the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels and Shasta dam raise that will cause the extinction of Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon and other fish species and destroy the Delta in order to divert water to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies.

However, this is not the first time that NGOs have greenwashed Brown's toxic environmental legacy. In a previous award ceremony for Brown in Sacramento hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in March 2012, there were no protesters gathered to greet Brown – and the press was barred from the event. And you can expect to see more greenwashing of Brown's war on salmon, the Delta, the ocean and the people of California by NGOs and other politicians.

No press allowed

On March 26, 2012, I received a media advisory from the Governor's office stating that "Governor Edmund G. Brown will attend a reception commemorating Ocean Day this evening sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he will receive the 2012 Ocean Champion Award." The event was held that evening at 6 p.m. at the Sutter Club in Sacramento.

However, the release noted, "This event is closed to the press."

The media advisory listed a representative of Environment California as the contact for more information about the Ocean Day that the reception was part of.

I found it interesting that the press was barred from this event. Could this because the media might ask some embarrassing questions about why Governor Jerry Brown was receiving the 2012 'Ocean Champion' award when he has committed himself to continuing many of the abysmal environmental polices of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger?

David Gurney, independent journalist and Co-Chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition, noted that the Governor and the sponsors of the event employed the first and perhaps easiest way to “manage the news” - simply to deny reporters access to information or an event. (

“Members of the press were left to wonder why reporting was barred from an event which logically, the Governor would want proudly publicized. Since the free press was barred, one can only wonder if Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, and chair of the MLPA Initiative for the South Coast, was on hand at the ‘Ocean Champion’ awards banquet ?” said Gurney.

Gurney said the sponsors of the event, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Julie Packard of the Packard Foundation, and other Resources Legacy Fund Foundation billionaires who funded the “Initiative,” were no doubt on hand in full force. “They did not want their quality time with the Governor impinged upon by the prying eyes of the press,” he noted.

“Our impoverished Governor, Jerry Brown, no doubt welcomed both the free seafood dinner, and the private funding of tens of millions of dollars that financed the outlaw public process, that claims to ‘save the ocean,’” Gurney quipped.

“The financiers of the Marine Life Protection Act ‘Initiative’ were celebrating the success of their experimental plan to both illegally privatize a governmental process, and appropriate about 14% of California’s offshore resources,” Gurney continued.

“It seems the main thing ‘protected’ by this corrupt version of ‘the Act,’ were the special interests who financed it. As such, the MLPA ‘Initiative’ should in reality be called: the marine life protection racket. Apparently, the bitter hypocrisy of super-rich ‘ocean guardians’ – eating a haute monde ‘sustainable seafood’ dinner in secrecy, to celebrate the faux conquistador of sustainable fishing communities – was totally lost on these corporate plutocrats,” Gurney concluded.

I agreed with Gurney about his criticism of the effort by the Governor's office and event sponsors to exclude the press from this event. This would have been a great chance for reporters to ask Brown about his policies on the oceans, Delta and other environmental issues.

Brown’s policies threaten salmon, rivers and oceans

In addition, I found it puzzling that Brown was bestowed the “Ocean Champion” award by NGOs when his administration has continued Schwarzenegger administration policies that threaten ocean, Delta and Central Valley fisheries.

Brown signed a couple of good bills for ocean fisheries, including a bill limiting the number of crab pots used by commercial fishermen and legislation banning the sale of shark fins in California. However, on the biggest and most controversial issues regarding our oceans, estuaries and freshwater resources, Brown has been firmly on the side of corporate interests that seek to privatize and exploit public trust resources.

First, the Governor presided over record water exports out of the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, in 2011. The annual export total was 6,678,000 acre-feet of water in 2011, 208,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,470,000 acre-feet set in 2005.

The total includes 4.003 million acre-feet through the Banks Pumping Plant of the State Water Project (SWP), 2.570 million acre-feet through the Jones Pumping Plant of the Central Valley Project (CVP), 69 thousand acre-feet through the Contra Costa Canal (CVP) and 37 thousand acre-feet through the North Bay Aqueduct (SWP).

Second, the Brown administration presided over a record fish kill in the Delta pumps in 2011 - and has continued to pursue policies that continue to drive winter run Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species towards the abyss of extinction. A record number of 8,989,639 native Sacramento splittail were "salvaged" in the Delta pumps in order to ship record amounts of water to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies in 2011. The annual splittail “salvage” number is 1,201,585 fish, according to the Bay Institute’s report, Collateral Damage,

The report emphasized that “Salvage numbers drastically underestimate the actual impact. Although the exact numbers are uncertain, it is clear that tens of millions of fish are killed each year, and only a small fraction of this is reflected in the salvage numbers that are reported.” One study of “pre-screen loss” estimated that as many as 19 of every 20 fish perished before being counted (Castillo, 2010).

This massive kill was just a fraction of fish, including Central Valley chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, American shad, striped bass, largemouth bass and other species, massacred by the Delta pumps in recent years.

A California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) white paper report released in March 2013 reported, “Between 2000 and 2011, more than 130 million fish have been salvaged at the State and Federal Project water export facilities in the South Delta. Actual losses are far higher. For example, recent estimates indicate that 5-10 times more fish are lost than are salvaged, largely due to the high predation losses in and around water project facilities." (

More recently, the DFW's Fall Midwater trawl survey revealed that the indices for Delta smelt (7), striped bass (23), threadfin shad (70), and American shad (135) were the second, second, third and second lowest, respectively, in the 46 years of the survey. The index for longfin smelt (36) was comparable to the very low indices of recent years.

"In other words, Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, American shad and threadfin shad populations in 2013 have plummeted 98.9, 99.6, 99.7, 89.1, 98.1 percent, respectively, from the average of the initial six years of the survey (1967-1972)," said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. "The splittail index was not released but the 2012 September-October index was zero."

Third, the Governor has fast-tracked the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to export more water to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. If built, this canal will likely result in the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species, as well as threaten salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

For more information about Governor Brown’s abysmal environmental legacy, go to: