by Dan Bacher
Wednesday Sep 21st, 2011 7:34 PM
While claiming that Delta advocates’ fears that the BDCP is a “water grab” were “unfounded,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar admitted that the “flexibility” of the new conveyance could lead to greater exports, in other words, to a “water grab!” If this isn’t a classic case of political double-speak and cognitive dissonance, I don’t know what is! (http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_18929472?source=rss)
The latest Restore the Delta newsletter (http://restorethedelta.org/1286) states, “Salazar got so many things wrong about the Delta that it’s hard to know where to start,” in referring to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s remarks at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on September 19.
I think that accurately summarizes Salazar’s presentation, a shameless promotion of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal that former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor in California history, would be proud of.
“The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is the most important – and most complex – long-term water and habitat management plan ever undertaken,” Salazar gushed. “The BDCP provides a comprehensive approach that includes new habitat for endangered fish species, coordinated measures to attack toxics that are fouling delta waters, and improvements to the state’s water infrastructure.”
However, in the question and answer period after his talk, Salazar revealed the true purpose of the BDCP and the peripheral canal: to increase water exports. Salazar suggested the possibility of “extending” or “expanding” exports to accommodate a growing population.
“He talked about working with others in Colorado to defeat a water grab there,” according to Restore the Delta. “But in the Q&A session following his address, Salazar said building a new aqueduct around the Delta might increase the flexibility of water operations in such a way that it could lead to more water deliveries. Apparently he doesn’t see any similarity between a water grab in Colorado and a water grab in California.”
While claiming that Delta advocates’ fears that the BDCP is a “water grab” were “unfounded,” Salazar admitted that the “flexibility” of the new conveyance could lead to greater exports, in other words, to a “water grab!” If this isn’t a classic case of political double-speak and cognitive dissonance, I don’t know what is! (http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_18929472?source=rss)
Venturing even further into the Theatre of Political Absurdity, Salazar claimed, “We’re not taking shortcuts on the science” – while the overwhelming scientific evidence from federal, state and independent biologists points to the key role that Delta water exports play in the unprecedented decline of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail and other imperiled fish species.
There is a direct correlation between fish declines and increases in water exports; to deny this is deny reality. It is impossible, now matter how much fake “habitat restoration” is done by the Obama and Brown administrations to greenwash the canal, to increase water exports to southern California water agencies and corporate agribusiness without seeing further fish declines.
One of the most comical comments uttered by Salazar was, “We have to remain faithful to the open, collaborative and transparent process that brought the Bay Delta stakeholders together in the first place.”
Does Salazar live in a parallel universe or what? The BCDP process is one of the least “open, collaborative and transparent” government boondoggles that I’ve ever encountered.
For example, the BDCP “Management Committee” has completely excluded Delta residents, family farmers, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, California Indian Tribes, environmental justice communities and grassroots conservationists. What type of “open, collaborative and tranparent process is this?
Caleen Sisk-Franco, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe, blasted Salazar as being a tool of big corporate interests – “big corporations’ little thinkers.” That’s exactly what he is – a politician serving corporate agribusiness, southern California water agencies, development interests and water privateers such as Stewart Resnick, the owner of the giant Paramount Farms, not the people of California, fish or the environment.
“So Salazar thinks this is the ‘Granddaddy’ of California water puzzle?” said Sisk-Franco. “This is just another example of big corporations’ little thinkers influencing the top, who influence the law makers to do the wrong thing for most of the people and environment. We can’t afford those kind of hair brained idiot mistakes now!”
As Salazar spoke, one of the biggest fish kills in California history continued. The state and federal government agencies “salvaged” a total of 11,158,021 fish in the Delta water pumping facilities between January 1 and September 7, 2011, the result of record water exports. A horrific 8,985,009 Sacramento splittail, the largest number ever recorded, were salvaged during this period, according to Department of Fish and Game data (http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/node/9352). The salvage numbers also list 35,560 chinook salmon, 1,642 steelhead, 51 Delta smelt and 14 green sturgeon – all endangered or threatened species.
The CalFed program mandated the construction of the state of the art fish screens a decade ago, but the screens have still not been installed. If they won’t build these screens, do we we really expect them to comply with the laws protecting fish and environment if they build the canal?
Rather than fast-tracking the construction of the peripheral canal, Salazar and his counterpart in the Brown administration, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, should do something NOW to stop the massive fish kill in the Delta pumps!
The Salazar speech including the questions and answers is on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/commonwealth-club-climate/id296762605. For more information about Restore the Delta, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org. .