A Thursday morning meeting of Bay Delta Conservation Plan principals was disrupted by a fisherman, two environmentalists, and a Delta farmer protesting the closed process.
The Department of Water Resources has told legislators that they’re not welcome at meetings of signatories to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the plan that state water exporters have undertaken to secure their water supplies.
The meetings have been going forward behind closed doors since August in what Resources Secretary Lester Snow told lawmakers was “a key procedural component of the public BDCP Steering Committee process.”
Showing up this morning at the meeting convened at the California Farm Bureau Federation in Sacramento were Dan Bacher, fisheries activist, researcher, and editor of The Fish Sniffer; Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA); Jim Crenshaw, President/Treasurer of CSPA; and Brett Baker, sixth generation pear farmer from Sutter Island in the Northern Delta.
Speaking seats at the meeting had been reserved for “principals,” representatives of the entities who have financed the planning process. Bacher, Jennings, Crenshaw, and Baker were asked not to report the names of any of the participants or attribute quotes to them. They refused.
When asked to leave, the four asked whether they would be arrested if they refused. In response, Secretary Snow disbanded the meeting.
In an interview last week, Jonas Minton of the Planning and Conservation League told the Central Valley Business Times that exporters had withdrawn from the public BDCP process when confronted with overwhelming scientific evidence that exports from the Bay-Delta would have to be reduced to save the Estuary.
Said Minton, “They’ve been frantically trying to come up with some kind of agreement that could be signed before this Governor leaves office.”
A similar push by the Governor has driven the Marine Life Protection Act process going forward in coastal Northern California.
The MLPA process, like the BDCP process, has been characterized by attempts to bypass open meeting laws. In that case, MLPA officials have limited media coverage of their “work sessions,” which they distinguish from public meetings. At least one independent journalist was arrested for trying to film “work session” proceedings.
Newspaper industry and civil liberties attorneys say the process violated the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and the 1st Amendment.
The Delta and fishing activists involved are available for interviews