Politics of Water Splits Environmental Organizations

Cross posted from California Greening.

If you want to know more about what we should really be doing regarding water in California, you need to read Mato Ska  here, here, here<>/a>, or here. I want to talk about the politics. That is beginning to splinter over more than North / South, Valley / Coast or even the widening gap between Democrats and Republicans.

More below the line.  

Let me call your attention to two things that happened today. One is the fact that the California League of Conservation Voters sent a floor alert to the members of the California Assembly giving strong support to the Steinberg proposal.  In this, they join three other environmental organizations that have already taken this position: Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense and the Nature Conservancy.  Each of the latter has strong ties to corporate funding and seem to be taking the corporate position.  There is strong evidence that staff for Natural Resources Defense Council have been meeting behind closed doors with the water districts who have the most to gain were the the Steinberg legislation legislation enacted.

Dan Bacher, Ed. Fishsniffer magazine, has harsh words for the CLCV.

NRDC, Environmental Defense, the Nature Conservancy and now the California League of Conservation Voters are giving “green” cover to policies that will lead to the death of the Delta and the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations. We must expose these corporate greenwashers for the frauds that they are!

On the other side of this issue are the Sierra Club, Planning and Conservation League, Environmental Justice,Clean Water Action, Green LA, Heal the Bay, Restore the Delta and others. Together, they have fashioned the basis of a new plan, one that is both equitable and sustainable, but it is not what the legislature is delivering.

Today, Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, weighed in on the controversy at Huffington Post.

Indeed, it’s fair to say that Sacramento is in deep denial of a fundamental reality. California’s landscapes, forests, farmlands, and cities must now be managed primarily to meet the biggest challenge of the 21st century: an adequate, secure, clean, and safe  water supply for urgent human and environmental needs. Water is precious. We need to stop wasting it.

The legislature met today in special session, supposedly to pass legislation that would provide new governance for the Delta and to authorize putting a new bond issue on the 2010 ballot.  The governance creates new bureaucracies rather than rationalizing the existing ones and then gives the new boards and councils no enforcement authority and no funding.  The bonds themselves are a give away to major water users, moving $billions of cost from the actual beneficiaries of new water conveyance… once called a peripheral canal… to the taxpayers.  I am sure that the residents of Eureka or Monterey have no interest in paying for a handout to corporate agriculture.

Handout: that is what you call selling water at around $75 / acre ft. for agriculture when the going rate is over $200 / acre ft and the cost of desalination water can be as high as $1000 / acre foot.   And on top to that, the bond would have the taxpayers fund any and all environmental mitigation that a new canal would require.  Gimme a break.

They say that water flows to toward money.  There can not be any better example of this than what is happening in Sacramento this week.

Behind all of the smoke and mirrors, the legislature is doing nothing to rationalize California’s mixed up system of water right where Government has issued permits for some 5 to 8 times the amount of water that we get in a normal year.  It is time for someone to pull aside the curtain and reveal the Wizard in his shambles.