Land Use

$50 Billion Scheme Lets West Side San Joaquin Valley Growers Control More Water

By Barbara Barigan-Parrilla
Restore the Delta

Restore the Delta, local, state and federal elected officials, the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, the Planning and Conservation League, the Environmental Water Caucus, Friend of the River, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and a dozen other groups launched their campaign against the “Peripheral Tunnels” with a rally at the State Capitol on July 25. The “fatal flaws” of the tunnels would damage water, the environment, fish, and farming and impose billions of dollars of increases on water ratepayers.

Fishermen, Tribal Members and Enviros Blast Brown Tunnel Plan

By Dan Bacher

Over 300 people, including fishermen, environmentalists, family farmers, and a large contingent of members of the Winnemem Wintu, Pit River, Hoopa Valley and Miwok Tribes, protested Wednesday's announcement by Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to fast track the plan to build the peripheral tunnels around the California Delta.

During a press conference at the California Natural Resources Agency Building in Sacramento, Brown announced his plan for the construction of two peripheral tunnels with a capacity of 9,000 cfs that would take water from three intakes on the Sacramento River near Courtland and Hood to deliver water to corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and southern California water agencies.

Legislature Delays Water Bond Until November 2014

By Dan Bacher 

The California State Legislature voted on Thursday, July 5 to postpone the controversial water bond from November 2012 to November 2014 "to improve its odds of success with voters," according to a statement from Assemblyman Henry T. Perea's Office. 

Delta advocates have blasted the $11.14 water bond for funding questionable "habitat restoration" they say is designed to greenwash the construction of Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral canal or tunnel, an environmentally destructive and enormously expensive project to export more Delta water to southern California and corporate agribusiness. 

Jerry Brown's Peripheral Canal or Tunnel Hasn't Been Downsized

By Dan Bacher

Delta advocates dismissed claims made by the Brown administration that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral canal or tunnel is being "downsized."

"The chunnel has not been downsized," challenged Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta (RTD) executive director. "While three intake pumps may only pump 9,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of Sacramento River flows, the chunnel pipe itself - according to Resource Agency claims - will be sized to carry 15,000 cfs, nearly the entire flow of the Sacramento River."

"What is to stop project operators from simply adding a few more intake pumps, especially after they ‘configure’ the science to justify taking more water away from the Delta?” she asked.

Peripheral Canal Is Not 'Almost Assured'

By Dan Bacher

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial published on June 3, "California Peripheral canal coming soon," poses many good questions challenging the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal or tunnel.

However, the statement that "a proposed giant canal to move water from Northern California to the south appears almost assured" is not supported by any facts.

In reality, the plan is even more tenuous now than it was five years ago when Arnold Schwarzenegger resurrected the project, a Nineteenth Century solution to Twenty-First Century problems, in a cynical effort to create a monument to his "environmental" legacy.

Why is this peripheral canal plan destined to fail?

Time to End the Corporate Tax Break Gravy Train

By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

In all the absurdity that is budget politics, there’s a particularly maddening reality that stands out: Corporate tax breaks are costing the state billions each year, providing little to no benefit to our economy, lack transparency and are completely unaccountable to taxpayers.

Enough is enough. Before cutting any more services, these wasteful giveaways need to be thoroughly reviewed. If they’re not serving their intended purpose, get rid of ‘em. And we’re not talking about nickels and dimes here. This is big money that’s likely going to waste at taxpayers’ expense.

Governor Brown Announces Appointments to State Water Board

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown announced on Thursday the appointment of Felicia Marcus and Steven Moore to the State Water Resources Control Board and the reappointment of Charles Hoppin as the Board's Chair.

Felicia Marcus, 56, of Emeryville, has been western director at the Natural Resources Defense Council since 2008 and was executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Trust for Public Land from 2001 to 2008. She served as the administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 from 1993 to 2001.

Marcus was a commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works from 1989 to 1993 and served as president of the Board from 1991 to 1993. She has been a member of the Delta Stewardship Council since 2010.

This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $128,109. Marcus is a Democrat.

Secretary Laird Announces Delay In Release of Peripheral Canal Plan

By Dan Bacher

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird announced Friday that the release of a controversial state-federal plan to build a peripheral canal or tunnel will be delayed.

In a May 3 letter to David Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Laird said the state "will not be ready" to release public review drafts of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its environmental impact report/statement at the end of June, as originally expected.

Laird did not directly explain the reason for the delay, but said, "The fish and wildlife agencies are currently reviewing and responding to a substantially improved scientific analysis of habitat restoration, water flows, and other ecological measures to achieve regulatory standards of the federal Endangered Species Act and Natural Community Conservation Planning Act. As a result, we anticipate that we will soon be able to announce some significant adjustments in the overall program that will reflect our commitment to using the best science."

The Costly Kings: What Sacramento's NBA Franchise Has Cost California's Capital City

By Dan Aiello

When Greg Lukenbill and other investors bought the Kansas City Kings NBA franchise in the early 1980's it wasn't for the love of the game.

Lukenbill, a Sacramento developer who had purchased cheap flood plain acreage in the Natomas basin, wanted to develop his property in the same suburban sprawl fashion as East of the downtown. But Sacramento's last citizen mayor, Anne Rudin, who believed in a strong downtown city core and despised the disjointed tract developments of Los Angeles and San Jose, had attained a majority of council members who agreed with her, that Natomas' flood plain status precluded the area from development.

"Maybe all NBA owners should be charged with unsportsman-like conduct."

It is Time to Restore Salmon to the San Joaquin River

By Monty Schmitt
Natural Resources Defense Council

Reaching a great milestone: #salmon will be re-introduced in the San Joaquin River for the first time since the 1940s.

Last year marked the fifth year of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and the two year anniversary of renewed river flows - the first since the 1940s when the operation of Friant Dam dried up the river and ended the historic salmon runs.  Thanks to years of hard work on the part of state and federal agencies, farmers, conservation groups, water districts and other stakeholders, the San Joaquin River once again flows all the way to the sea.