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Valley Economy blog
Some thoughts for Bruce Babbitt
By Dr. Jeffrey Michael
July 26, 2016
“In the 1990s, I was a graduate student writing a dissertation on the economics of the Endangered Species Act, and Bruce Babbitt was Secretary of the Interior actively utilizing habitat conservation plans as tools to negotiate agreements to more effectively implement the Endangered Species Act. I used to quote him in some of my presentations at the time, so I was fascinated and a bit encouraged to hear the news that Governor Brown has hired him to help with the delta tunnels (aka WaterFix) proposal. However, the quotes in this article in the Sac Bee make me a little concerned.
I trust that Secretary Babbitt will eventually be venturing out beyond the his state DWR office to get some alternative information and perspectives. Maybe he will even venture onto this blog? I offer these 5 thoughts to help Secretary Babbitt consider solutions to the Delta problem.”
Missed the live webcast of policy statements at the State Water Board? Watch them all here, July 26-28, 2016. Link.
Delta Science Fellowship
Are you a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher? Help us get our voice heard in Bay-Delta science that informs policy making for the State. The Delta Stewardship Council, a state agency responsible for implementing the Delta Tunnels into the recently invalid Delta Plan (known as the "docking station" for the Delta Tunnels), is looking for applicants for their Fellowship program. Details here.
Here is a recent background we did on the Delta Stewardship Council:
Though created by the Legislature with good intentions, the Delta Stewardship Council and the Plan have done very little to improve conditions in the Delta. Multiple fish species are going extinct, water contractors continue to taking more water than the ecosystem can sustain, and in-Delta beneficial uses from municipal drinking water to subsistence fishing to farm irrigation are threatened.
Among the failures cited by Judge Kenny, the Council failed to provide a flow policy, punting that duty to the State Water Resources Control Board, which is now over 20 years late updating its own 1995 Bay Delta plan. The Council’s plan spoke of making “progress” on restoring flows, but nothing measurable has occurred on its watch.
In 2013, the Council assumed that Governor Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan would be automatically incorporated into the Delta Plan, but when the state dropped that plan in April 2015, the Delta Plan had no policies with which to ensure that the proposed Delta Tunnels project would comply with the Plan and with state law.
In its public remarks, the Council also overstates the work it has done to revise the Plan in the interim period since the litigation was filed in 2013. The Delta Plan is essentially the same shell as it was before, and the Council remains ineffective in addressing the needs of the Delta.