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The Principals are not our pals

Members of Congress and the California legislature have sent a letter urging Lester Snow and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to open up the closed door talks now underway among “Delta Principals.”As we reported in our last newsletter, a small group of unidentified people has been meeting to work out a deal for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.The letter includes a series of questions for Snow and Salazar, including: What is the role and objectives of the Delta Principals Group? Is this a new group or a separate new process?Who are the principals?How were the principals identified and what criteria used in determining which groups/representatives would be allowed to participate?Are the proposals being discussed based on the best available science?Signing the [...]

Take action now! Progress threatened by closed-door meetings

Every bit of progress made in the past year to curtail pumping and give habitat a chance to recover is threatened by the close-door meetings now taking place among top water agency officials, regulatory agencies, and three environmental groups. State Resources Secretary Lester Snow is coleading closed-door sessions to negotiate an agreement about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan before Governor Schwarzenegger leaves office. No one from the Delta is part of these meetings. Restore the Delta has learned that Snow is now taking a “non-public” proposal to the group. It includes a proposal for Delta operations and governance that allows flexibility but requires only a “best effort” from agencies to avoid additional water impacts. The proposal also allows DWR and [...]

The Delta Protection Commission gets a new director

We congratulate Mike Machado on his appointment as director of the Delta Protection Commission.  He will take over September 20, replacing Linda Fiack, who is retiring. Restore the Delta will be sorry to lose Machado’s expertise on its board of directors, but we are happy to have such an experienced and knowledgeable person directing the DPC.

By invitation only

Governor Schwarzenegger addressed the Bohemian Grove oligarchs at the end of July in a keynote speech on an “undisclosed” topic.  If you’ve never heard about this shadowy institution of America’s elite movers and shakers, click here read Dan Bacher’s recent editorial on the subject. As Bacher points out, this is the kind of secrecy we’ve come to expect from the Governor who pays lips service to transparency while promoting processes like Delta Vision, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, and the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. Any transparency in these processes is the nose-against-the-window variety.  We can see what’s going on, but we can’t influence it in any meaningful way. Too often, we can’t even see what’s going on. We couldn’t [...]

Secrecy and deceit of a failed administration

Last week, Mike Taugher reported in the Contra Costa Times that key people – including some of those institutional enviros – have been meeting behind closed doors to work out a deal for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).  The Governor really wants that canal, and he prefers to do water policy closeted with a few of his best friends. Click here for article The people at this small table in the closet need to figure out just what they are going to build and how much water it will carry.  They need to figure out how to split the water between farming, urban users, and the environment.  They need to figure out which fish can still be saved, and [...]

Suits of all designs

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, a group of Kern County growers and irrigators whose idea of a sustainable Delta is one from which they can get a large and uninterrupted supply of water, is suing the Department of Fish and Game for having game fish protection on striped bass, a non-native predator.  There’s plenty of evidence that striped bass and salmon did fine together before exports changed the habitat of the Delta.  DFG could remove protections on striped bass and there still wouldn’t be enough water for salmon at the present level of exports. On the positive side, a lawsuit that can actually do some good has been filed against DWR and the SWRCB (the Water Board) by the [...]

Can faulty assumptions result in wise conclusions?

Last week the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) adopted an interim plan for the Delta as required by last year’s Comprehensive Water Package. This is the plan that the DSC will use to guide its actions until the Delta Plan is adopted and implemented, by January 1, 2012. There were problems with the legislation that created the DSC and called for the plan, so of course there will be problems with the plan. Legislation gave the DSC the policy objective to “Manage the Delta’s water and environmental resources and the water resources of the state over the long term.” This implies that managing the water resources of California over the long term is inextricably linked to managing the Delta’s water and [...]

Swing your partner and do-si-do

Remember that joint powers authority (JPA) that made its way into the water bond section on operational improvement (mainly dams and reservoirs)? Remember how the Legislature decided, on second thought, that this JPA was a really bad idea? It was such a bad idea that they introduced a bill – AB 2775 – to “surgically” remove it from the water bond. (See our June 23 edition click here.) What’s the problem with a JPA? We’ve seen it used before, by the Kern Water Bank, to allow private investors to profit from public infrastructure investments. In the case of the water bond, it was clear to those monitoring the push for dams and reservoirs that the people who want to build Sites Reservoir [...]

Haste makes waste, again

Back in April, Restore the Delta reported that Delta Stewardship Council Staff recommended that CH2MHill provide the primary support for developing the Delta Plan, as mandated by the legislature. CH2MHill was already heavily involved in the historic Cal-Fed process and developing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which the Delta Stewardship Council is set to either incorporate or not incorporate into the Delta Plan. At that time, the Delta Stewardship Council recognizedthat it needed an additional independent consultant because CH2MHill was too invested in the BDCP process. Thus, the DSC hired ARCADIS, Inc. to begin reviewing the BDCP. This was a good move as the entire process was looking more and more like a game of musical chairs between CH2MHill and various [...]

Hold that line

After its impressive show of backbone in adopting the report on flow criteria, the SWRCB reverted to its usual equivocation when it was time to talk to the BDCP Steering Committee on July 29.   According to the DSC staff report, the Water Board representative told the Steering Committee that they would weigh other factors, such as economic and social considerations, in making an enforceable ruling.   All they were doing in this was case was answering the legislature’s question about “the minimum flows necessary to protect resources considered to be in the public trust.” (The answer, you may recall, was 75 percent of natural unimpeded flows.)   Restore the Delta reminds the Water Board that we will never have [...]