In his State of the State address, California Governor Jerry Brown confirmed what everybody knew anyway: the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel to export more Delta water to corporate agribusiness and southern California is a huge priority for him.
Delta advocates believe the construction of the peripheral canal would result in the extinction of Sacramento River chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species, from increased water exports out of the estuary.
“Last week, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar – met here in Sacramento with those in my administration who are working to complete the Bay Delta Conservation Plan,” proclaimed Brown. “Together we agreed that by this summer we should have the basic elements of the project we need to build.”
“This is something my father worked on and then I worked on – decades ago. We know more now and are committed to the dual goals of restoring the Delta ecosystem and ensuring a reliable water supply,” he said.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, took issue with his repetition of the canard about how the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) project “will ensure water for 25 million Californians and for millions of acres of farmland as well as a hundred thousand acres of new habitat for spawning fish and other wildlife.”
“Ensure water for 25 million Californians to do what?” she asked. “Flush their toilets? Water their lawns? Grow more permanent crops or housing developments in the desert? We don’t want anyone to go thirsty. But the issue here is not thirst. It is the preservation of water-wasting lifestyles that California can’t sustain.”
Barrigan-Parrilla also criticized Brown for greenwashing the destruction of the Delta when he touted the so-called “habitat restoration” planned for the Delta under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
“And by the way, Governor, how many thousands of acres of Delta farmland are you prepared to take out of production to create new habitat for which there won’t be enough water for anyway? After all a new pipe will not make more water for the system,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.
Ironically, the BDCP aims to take out of production some of the most fertile agricultural land on the planet – in order to deliver more water to subsidized corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that are farming selenium-laced, drainage-impaired land, soil that should have never been irrigated!
Shock therapy on the Delta
In the same “Delta Flows” newsletter, Barrigan-Parrilla made a great comparison between a pattern revealed by independent journalist Naomi Klein in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and state-federal plans to build the canal.
“Journalist Naomi Klein traces a pattern in which economic ‘shock therapy’ is used to gain control for large-scale corporate enterprises when the public is disoriented by wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “Klein’s book reads like a catalog of situations in which corporate interests have waited in the wings and set the stage to take advantage of some kind of disaster.”
In her book, Klein states, “I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, ‘disaster capitalism.’”
For the past five years, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has been setting the stage for southern Central Valley agribusiness to profit from a predicted disaster in the Delta, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.
“Nothing would serve their purposes so well as a flood or seismic event that gave them a clean slate in the Delta. And if they can’t have the disaster itself, threatening the public with disaster can work almost as well,” she stated.
Barrigan-Parrilla noted that the PPIC” is at it again, “cherry-picking data and misrepresenting facts” to support a major transformation of the Delta benefitting people who want water somewhere else.
“As usual, their latest report, ‘Transitions for the Delta Economy,’ is presented as an academic project, funded by The Watershed Science Center at UC Davis. But there’s some laundering going on here,” she revealed. “Page 62 of the report explains that the study was paid for by the Delta Solutions program funders, which once again includes the Stephen Bechtel Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.” (See: Bechtel family wades into California’s water wars)
“So it seems this time rather than checks going directly to PPIC from these pro-peripheral canal foundations, checks floated through the University and then to PPIC. Restore the Delta believes this is a worsening scenario because the average person will simply believe that the study was financed by an unbiased educational institution without a hidden agenda. And if there is nothing to hide, then why aren’t the funders on the cover?” Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.
There’s a good analysis of the “sloppy economics” behind the PPIC report here, and an analysis of the “sloppy science,” here.
Shock therapy on the ocean
It is no coincidence that the Resources Legacy Fund and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, two of the three funders of the PPIC report promoting the construction of the peripheral canal, are also funding Arnold Schwarzenegger’s privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. The Brown administration, rather than doing the right thing, has forged ahead not only with Schwarzenegger’s BDCP process, but with his MLPA Initiative also. (See: Marine Protection: Jerry Brown has a Chance to Fix Arnold’s Mess.)
The initiative is a corrupt process, overseen by a big oil lobbyist, marina developer, coastal real estate executive, agribusiness hack and other corporate operatives with many conflicts of interest, that directly parallels the equally corrupt and corporate-controlled Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
The MLPA Initiative creates so-called “marine protected areas,” supported by Safeway Stores, Walmart and the Western States Petroleum Association, that fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture, wave and wind energy projects and all other human impacts on the ocean than fishing and gathering.
In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the “august body” that designed the “marine protected areas” that went into effect on the Southern California Coast on January 1. Reheis-Boyd, a big oil industry lobbyist advocating for new offshore drilling off the California coast, the Keystone XL pipeline and the gutting of environmental laws, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, as well as “serving” on the North Central Coast and North Coast Task Forces. (See: Why Is A Big Oil Lobbyist In Charge Of California’s Marine Protection Program?)
The Packard Foundation and four other “non-profits” donated a total of $20 million to fund the MLPA Initiative. The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation received the funds from these foundations to implement the unpopular MLPA process. (See: Tracing the big money behind Cali’s questionable marine protection program.)
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation contributed $8.2 million to fund the MLPA process. Julie E. Packard, the executive director and founder of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the foundation.
The Laguna Beach-based Marisla Foundation, founded by Getty Oil heiress Anne Getty Earhart, gave $3 million over several years. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation donated $7.4 million, the Keith Campbell Foundation contributed $1.2 million and the Annenberg Foundation donated $200,000.
All of this money was dumped into the Resources Legacy Foundation to kick recreational anglers, commercial fishermen and seaweed gatherers, among the most vocal advocates of fishery restoration and true environmental protection and the most fervent opponents of the peripheral canal, off the water in a disgusting case of corporate greenwashing.
In both the BDCP and MLPA Initiative fiascos, corporate interests have waited in the wings and set the stage to take advantage of some kind of disaster, either real or imagined, as Naomi Klein so eloquently pointed out in her book. In the BDCP, the alleged impending “disaster” is an earthquake or a catastrophic drought.
In the MLPA Initiative, the looming “disaster” is alleged “overfishing” by sustainable hook-and-line recreational and commercial fishermen, even though a peer reviewed study by Science magazine concluded that the California Current ecosystem, the most heavily regulated fishery on the entire planet, had the least exploited and healthiest fishery and marine ecosystem of any region in the world studied.
Meanwhile, the “marine protected areas” fail to protect California marine waters from the most pressing problems they face – increased pollution, ocean industrialization, military testing and massive water exports out of the Bay-Delta Estuary, an estuary that dozens and dozens of anadromous and marine fish species depend on for their survival.
If you like the “Shock Doctrine,” you’ll definitely like the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative corporate greenwashing processes!