A report said state and federal water agencies have endangered water supplies and fish species in order to appease corporate agribusiness interests, developers and oil companies.
Californians concerned about the use of fracking in the state gathered outside of the California state Capitol building on Wednesday for Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address. About 200 protesters held signs and banners asking Brown, once again, to take action and ban the use of fracking in the state.
Activists from Oil Change International and 350.org also placed a three-story banner across from the State House with message, “Governor Brown: Climate Leaders Don’t Frack. Ban Fracking Now.”
“From the record dry temperatures to the wildfires across the state, the climate crisis is confronting the state every day,” said fracking campaigner Linda Capato at 350.org. “Governor Brown needs to live up to his legacy as a climate leader and ban fracking now.”
“The people most negatively affected by both the recent drought and fracking are low income communities of color in California’s Central Valley,” said Sofia Parino, an attorney at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. “We need a leader who can both protect natural resources and be a champion for all communities. Governor Brown can do that by stopping fracking now.”
During his address to his constituents, Brown promoted the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which involves building peripheral tunnels to help “solve” California’s unprecedented drought.
“Right now, it is imperative that we do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the drought,” Brown said. “I have convened an Interagency Drought Task Force and declared a State of Emergency. We need everyone in every part of the state to conserve water. We need regulators to rebalance water rules and enable voluntary transfers of water and we must prepare for forest fires.
“As the State Water Action Plan lays out, water recycling, expanded storage and serious groundwater management must all be part of the mix. So too must be investments in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities. We also need wetlands and watershed restoration and further progress on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan,” Brown said.
In response to Brown’s speech, Adam Scow, director of Food & Water Watch California, said that by allowing fracking to happen in California, Brown’s actions are in direct conflict with his rhetoric on water conservation and climate change.
“Brown’s current water and energy policies mismanage the people of California’s water supply, and this – not his ‘green’ talk – will be what defines his legacy,” Scow said.
Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, agreed and said “California is facing both a water crisis and a climate crisis, both of which would be made worse by fracking.
“Governor Brown has a huge opportunity to tackle both these challenges by banning fracking,” Kretzmann said. “A ban would prove he is a strong leader when it comes to protecting Californians.”
According to a report in the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, water management in the state has always been poor, but under the direction of the Brown and Obama administration, poor water management of rivers and reservoirs has exacerbated. And if the peripheral tunnels are built, things would be worse.
“The state and federal water agencies exported massive quantities of water to corporate agribusiness interests and developers, and oil companies, endangering local water supplies and Chinook salmon, steelhead and Delta fish populations as the ecosystem continues to collapse,” the report said.
To pour salt on the wound while Brown gave his address, congressmen Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, and David Valadao, with the support of House Speaker John Boehner, met in Bakersfield, Calif., to announce their plan to suspend the Endangered Species Act, which would “allow the fish-killing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to operate ‘as long as water is available’ and to halt the San Joaquin River restoration plan.”
As IndyBay reported, “This is nothing more than a blatant, short-sighted water grab, fueled by years of political contributions from huge growers in the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water Agency to these Central Valley Congressional Representatives,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who added that since the state experiences a drought for about one-third of the year, it would be foolish to take more water away from the Delta and California’s rivers.
She said that politicians were playing a game, dictating who got to be a winner and who would be a loser in California’s farm and fishing communities, and that “By declaring a drought emergency, Governor Brown has set up opponents of the Endangered Species Act to be able to strip away water quality protections for Bay-Delta fisheries, Delta family farms, and Delta urban communities.
“What does it say that Governor Brown and Speaker Boehner are on the same side of championing the decimation of the Bay-Delta estuary, all to appease a few hundred growers who contribute less than .3 percent to the state’s economy?” she rhetorically asked. “It indicates to the people on the ground in the Delta that our political leaders are poised to squander the most important and largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas for an unsustainable future that will further enrich a few big political contributors to Central Valley congressional races and recent California ballot initiatives.”