Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Latest Round in the California Water Issue

While generally not doing anything meaningful about the budget crisis, the Legislature and the Governor worked closely to put what may become a very unpopular water bond measure before the voters.

While we're all waiting for the opportunity to vote on the matter, a "discussion" continues which illustrates why the water "debate" is becoming another matter on the list of things California voters are disgusted about.

In what appears to be a reasonable approach in the debate over Delta water, the National Academy of Sciences appointed a panel to review rules adopted by federal wildlife agencies to protect endangered Delta fish species. This was requested by Senator Diane Feinstein.

At the simplest (or simpleton) level, the problem has been portrayed as a battle between hard working American farmers (who are an endangered species themselves) and liberal environmentalists who care more about smelt than people.

This review lays out clearly the kind of players involved on the agriculture side. Feinstein acted in response to a letter from Stewart Resnick, owner of Paramount Farms. To quote from the Paramount Farms web site: "Paramount Farms is the largest grower and processor of almonds and pistachios in the world." In fact, its processing facilities occupy more acres than what one might think of as "a farm." Again, from their web site:

Ah yes, as Ma and Pa Paramount, their eight kids, and their trusty farmhand Jethro struggle to keep the family farm....

In fact, this is a political arena battle between large corporate farmers and large corporate real estate developers on one side against the interests of California's remaining fisherman who are in truth the only small businessmen and women who have a survival stake in the battle (yes, the Delta wildlife have a survival stake also, but can't vote) joined by those who value the Delta ecosystem - the environmental community and federal wildlife agencies.

According to the Sacramento Bee, this review will cost American taxpayers $1.5 million and it will be the third such review, as the Bee notes: "Two separate independent science panels have affirmed the importance of fall flows for Delta smelt." Will the third review be enough?

Senator Diane Feinstein, the Senior Senator from California and a Democrat, is the epitome of the American survivalist politician dependent on large corporations and whose conservative politics look and smell like dead fish.

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