Clean Water

Proposed "Water Tunnels" a Death Sentence for the Bay Delta

By Bill Jennings

For over a quarter of a century I've labored in the trenches of the water rights and water quality processes trying to protect it. We have a broad suite of laws protecting the Bay Delta - among them: the state constitution; water code; public trust doctrine; state and federal endangered species, water quality and environmental review acts; fish and wildlife code; and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) to mention a few. Yet the biological tapestry of this estuary is collapsing. And the agencies that have violated and failed to enforce these laws over three decades are now bringing you the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Brown Administration Official Claims "Delta Can't Be Saved"

By Dan Bacher

Recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Indian tribal leaders, family farmers, environmentalists, Delta residents and many elected officials strongly oppose the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build peripheral tunnels diverting water out of the Delta, because they say it will lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead and other fish species. Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and Governor Jerry Brown have constantly portrayed the BDCP as a visionary effort based on "science" to accomplish the "co-equal goals" of "ecosystem restoration" and "water supply reliability."

"Science has and will continue to drive a holistic resolution securing our water supply and substantially restoring the Delta's lost habitat," said Laird on March 28.

However, a Brown administration official recently admitted that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has nothing to do with saving the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the estuary that salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, Delta smelt, striped bass and a host of other species depend on for survival.

Resources Secretary Uses Snow Survey to Rush Corporate Water Grab

By Dan Bacher

Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird cynically used the release of the latest Sierra Nevada snow survey on March 28 to campaign for the construction of the peripheral tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, just as he has done every spring since being appointed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Snow surveyors reported Thursday that water content in California's snowpack is only 52 percent of normal, with the spring melt season already under way, according to the Department of Water Resources. After a record dry January and February in much of the state, DWR has decreased its water delivery estimate from 40 to 35 percent of requested amounts from the State Water Project (SWP).

Bond Funds Shouldn't Mitigate Peripheral Tunnels Damage

By Dan Bacher

Restore the Delta (RTD), a coalition opposed to the Brown administration's plan to build massive peripheral tunnels for intrastate transport of water from the Bay Delta region, on February 28 announced that it opposes using state bond funds to mitigate environmental damage to Central Valley salmon, Delta fish populations and Delta farms from the proposed tunnels.

"To do so would take funds from public education and safety to service bond debt," according to a statement from RTD. "Any state funds should instead promote regional water self-sufficiency."

Environmentalists Decry "Poor" Notification of First Fracking Hearing in L.A.

By Dan Aiello

In a letter to Governor Jerry Brown Jr.'s supervisor of oil and gas at California's Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute protested what she sees as a circumvention of the intent, if not the technical requirement, of California's transparency rules on public hearings.

Siegel's organization was just one of a number of environmental groups who were disappointed in the state agency's efforts to engage the public on the issue of fracking's impact on California's groundwater, aquifers, agriculture production and fragile coastline.

The first public hearing on the administration's hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, regulations in California is scheduled for February 19, 2013 in Los Angeles.

"No Confidence" State Will Protect Californians from Fracking, Senators Told

By Dan Aiello

At a joint committee hearing yesterday to discuss the administration's proposed oil and gas regulations to monitor a method of extraction known as fracking, California senators were told by one Ventura County supervisor that the state's lack of leadership, control, preparedness and monitoring have led to "a crisis in confidence at all levels of government" among local officials and the state's residents.

Restore the Delta Opposes Both Twin and Single Tunnel Proposals

By Dan Bacher

Restore the Delta (RTD) opposes both Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build two peripheral tunnels and a separate proposal to build a single peripheral tunnel backed by several environmental NGOs, business groups and water agencies, according to RTD's executive director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla.

"We oppose the rush to build a project that would exterminate salmon runs, destroy sustainable family farms and saddle taxpayers with tens of billions in debt, mainly to benefit a small number of huge corporate agribusinesses on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

She said Governor Brown's Peripheral Tunnel proposal is "fatally flawed."

California Farmers Alarmed as Energy Companies Outbid Ag Water Districts for Resource

By Dan Aiello

There's a new water interest bidding for California's limited water supplies, and the managers of California's historic agriculture-centric water districts in the Central Valley aren't smiling.

With a finite supply of water, Sacramento may have to choose between expanding food production or fracking wells and oil and natural gas production. Either option will likely lead to increases in food or energy costs for consumers.

Out-of-state, (primarily Texas-headquartered) energy companies with deep pockets from record profits and the strongest lobby in Sacramento are anxious to extract as much severance tax-free California oil from the ground as quickly as possible.

Lawsuit Filed Against Fracking as Oil Lobbyist Says It's "Safe"

By Dan Bacher

As a lawsuit was filed to stop unregulated fracking in California, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, claimed that fracking causes no environmental harm in the state.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a rapidly spreading, environmentally destructive new method of oil and gas extraction that is drawing growing opposition throughout the state by environmentalists, fishermen, tribal members, family farmers and consumer advocates.

Fracking Regulations Only Exxon Could Love

By Judy Dugan

California's oil and gas industry regulators are about to write final state regulations on the controversial practice of fracking natural gas and oil wells in the state. Don't expect any backbone, however, from the state Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Regulation. So far, the draft proposals boil down to "trust the oil industry."