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California Gov. Newsom’s climate agenda highlights tensions with environmental groups – AP, 7/5/23 (ran nationally)
“Being an environmentalist, it means being able to say yes to clean energy projects and clean water projects that will get us off of fossil fuels faster,” York said. “The fight you saw over infrastructure and streamlining is almost like an opening skirmish in some of the wars to come.”
Some environmental leaders bristle at that characterization, including Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of the environmental advocacy group Restore the Delta. She said Newsom’s policies are aimed more at appealing to “small-town America for his presidential ambitions.”
“His plans for the Delta and rivers are strictly for the benefit of big industrial agriculture contributors,” she said.
Wednesday, tribal and environmental leaders rallied at the state Capitol to urge Newsom to change the state’s water rights system and adopt rules to keep more water in the rivers to protect threatened species of fish.
Tribes, activists rally in Sacramento over water rights – Eureka Times-Standard, 7/5/23
The rally featured speakers and tribal representatives from across the state, including from the Hoopa Valley Tribe and Karuk Tribe, both with ancestral lands in Humboldt County. The group called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to realign the state’s water rights system to greater favor management from tribes and less diversions for agriculture.
“Our social well-being, or our physical or cultural or spiritual well-being, it all runs parallel to the salmon and if the salmon are doing good, we’re not doing good,” said Jason Jackson-Reed, an executive assistant with the Hoopa Valley Tribe.
Coalition Of Tribes, Fisheries, Environmentalists Demand Changes To ‘Dysfunctional’ State Water Rights System – Bay City News, 7/6/23
A coalition of California tribal governments, fishery groups and environmental justice organizations rallied on the steps of the State Capitol Building Wednesday to demand significant changes to a “dysfunctional” water rights system in the state.
The collective of 20 tribal communities and prominent environmental groups, like the Sierra Club and San Francisco Baykeeper, called on the Newsom Administration to reform the state’s water rights system so it can better support salmon populations and the overall health of rivers, estuaries, specifically the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“We are currently experiencing degradation of our water, air and right to public access of our waterways,” said Artie Valencia, community organizer and government liaison of Restore the Delta. “Our frontline communities are the ones who will deal with the consequences of water exports at the expense of the health, safety and quality of life for environmental justice communities.”
Tribal leaders, environmental groups rally for a better water rights system – Capital Public Radio, 7/6/23
Indigenous leaders and environmental groups gathered at California’s Capitol on Wednesday to rally for better access to clean water. Advocates specifically expressed support for a trio of bills that would revamp the state’s approach to water rights given before 1914, often referred to as senior water rights. Claimants of these rights are given priority to divert water over more junior water rights holders.
The three bills — Assembly Bill 1337, Assembly Bill 460 and Senate Bill 389 — would allow the state to review water rights claimed before 1914. The bills, sponsored by Democratic legislators, would also give state officials more power to curtail water diversions and to penalize illegal diversions.
Tribes and Conservation Organizations Host Rally at California State Capitol – Native News/Yahoo News, 7/7/23
According to the Almond Board of California, about 1.5 million acres are dedicated to irrigated almond orchards, where a majority of production is exported outside of the country. The allocation of water has led to reduced flows through California rivers and the Bay Delta and created lower water quality for Tribes and other underserved communities in the San Francisco Bay Delta. As a result, harmful algal blooms have spread and have contributed to the depopulation of native fish species like Chinook salmon.
Other concerns the rally brought attention to were the Delta Conveyance Project, a state water infrastructure project aimed to update the state’s aging water delivery system in northern California. According to organizers, Gov. Newsom has tried to fast-track the project without consulting with Tribes who have cultural resources, or history, along the project’s route.
What Happened to California’s Salmon Season This Year? – KQED, 7/11/23
On the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento last week, beneath the grand white dome, Sarah Bates called out the absence of salmon from July 4th holiday celebrations.
There had been parades and fireworks, said Bates, who commercially fishes out of San Francisco. “But when I sat down for dinner with my family, what was missing? Where’s the fish?” she shouted with disdain, presumably within earshot of some lawmakers. “Where’s the salmon? Where’s my fresh, local salmon? Today’s my baby’s first birthday. She’s not eating salmon tonight.”
The next generation was also on the mind of Jason Jackson-Reed, a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. He addressed the crowd as he cradled his 1-month-old son in a carrier.
“Our [tribe’s] social well-being, physical, our cultural, our spiritual well-being, it all runs parallel to the salmon,” he said. “If the salmon aren’t doing good, we’re not doing good.”
A racist past and hotter future are testing Western water like never before – National Public Radio, 7/11/23
“First in time, first in right is kind of laughable, because the ones that were here first were the indigenous people,” says Gary Mulcahy, government liaison for the Winnemem Wintu tribe in Northern California.
As the climate gets hotter and further shrinks strained water supplies, Western states are grappling with whether a century-old water system created by white settlers can equitably handle a future of worsening droughts.
Rights to water have long been seen as sacrosanct by many. But after decades of exclusion, Native American tribes are helping lead the charge both in California and on the Colorado River, arguing for overhauling an arcane system they say is inherently racist.
ICYMI 7/11/23: Media Clips – Day of Action in Sacramento
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