Schwarzenegger Uses Address To Push $11.1 Billion Water Bond
by Dan Bacher
January 7, 2010 -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor who has presided over the collapse of the California economy and Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, used his state of the state address Wednesday to push his insane campaign to build a peripheral canal and more dams.
He gushed about the passage of the legislative package that clears the path for a peripheral canal, new dams and the destruction of the California Delta as one his major "accomplishments" in 2009 just a day after a Department of Fish and Game survey revealed that the Delta smelt population has declined to a new record low.
"For decades this state was in a literal war over water, with old and deep divisions, Northern California versus the Southern California, Democrats versus Republicans, farmers versus environmentalists, businesses versus labor and the list goes on and on," he claimed. "But we here in this room made history with the most comprehensive water package in nearly half a century. We brought all the stakeholders together and by working together, we got it done."
This is an absolute lie. Rather than bringing "all of the stakeholders" together as Schwarzenegger contends, the vast majority of "stakeholders" were completely excluded from the negotiations to craft the water legislation in an elitist and unjust process. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Schwarzenegger refused to include the input and concerns of Delta Legislators, California Indian Tribes, fishermen, Delta farmers, farmworkers and environmental justice communities in the development of the legislation.
The overwhelming majority of environmental organizations in California were also excluded from the process. However, corporate environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense and Nature Conservancy engaged in backroom negotiations with Westlands Water District, the Metropolitan Water District and legislative leaders to come up with a deal that will indebt generations of Californians to come and most likely result in the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, and southern resident killer whales.
Schwarzenegger exhorted the gathered legislators and political hacks to campaign for the water bond in a display of bi-partisan unity. "And now we must work very hard so that we pass the $11 billion in water bonds that will be on the ballot this November. And Democrats and Republicans will have to travel up and down the state to educate the people of California why those bonds are so important," he claimed.
Then Schwarzenegger made a curious leap in logic, claiming that a plan that will indebt generations of Californians and destroy California fisheries will actually be an "investment" in the future! The future that Schwarzenegger envisions is apparently one of rampant development, unrestrained, unsustainable growth, the destruction of coastal and inland fisheries and the continuing delivery of water to drainage-impaired, toxic soil on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley to keep corporate growers and water marketers making huge profits off institutionalized poverty.
"Because some people say 'how can we afford these bonds in the current economic climate?'" the Governor said. "I say, how can we not?
Schwarzenegger portrayed a false scenario of imminent disaster unless the water bond is passed by the voters. "It is the law that you cannot build a school or that you cannot build a factory or that you cannot build an office building or a housing development without identifying first a source of water," he claimed. "As a result, huge projects with thousands of jobs have been put on hold. Our economy cannot grow without water. Our population cannot live without water. It is our state's lifeblood."
"Now is exactly the time to invest in it, so that when Californians turn on that faucet there is safe and reliable and clean water coming out that tap and not just five years from now but 30, 40 and 50 years from now. That is so important," said Schwarzenegger, concluding the water bond section of his address.
What is Schwarzenegger thinking? This is the same Governor that has slashed the budgets for state parks, health care for children, teachers, firefighters and game wardens? How can he possibly support the development of new water infrastructure when the budget ax has fallen so hard on the state's essential services?
The reason why Schwarzenegger, Steinberg and other corrupt politicians can campaign for the water bond and peripheral canal with a straight face is because they don't care about the vast majority of the residents of the state. They only care about keeping their corporate agribusiness campaign contributors such as Stewart Resnick, the owner of Paramount Farms, happy making millions and millions of dollars off marketing subsidized water back to the public and profiting from rural poverty in the San Joaquin Valley.
On the day before Schwarzenegger's address, the DFG posted the alarming results of the annual mid-water full trawl net survey on its website, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/projects.asp?ProjectID=FMWT. The annual "index," a relative measure of abundance, shows a continuing decline in the Delta's fish species.
The endangered Delta smelt declined to a new record low population level in 2009. The smelt, found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is considered by scientists to an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the estuary.
The longfin smelt and young-of-the year striped bass both dropped to their second-lowest measures. The threadfin shad, an introduced bait fish species, also declined last fall.
The Pelagic Organism Decline (POD) Team, a group of federal and state scientists studying the fish collapse, has pinpointed increases and changes in water exports, increases in toxic chemicals and the proliferation of invasive species as key factors behind the decline. This is no time for anybody to support Schwarzenegger's plan to export even more water out of the imperiled estuary by building more dams and the peripheral canal, since this government boondoggle would seal the doom of Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and striped bass populations, along with imperiled Sacramento River chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and southern resident killer whales.
For more information on why the water bond must be opposed by everybody who cares about California's future, I urge you to view Salmon Water Now!'s new 10-minute video, "The Water Pirates," (10 minutes), now available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwqVc8Hbmqk&fmt=18 or Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/8521134.
"The Water Pirates is the first of many videos that explain why it is critical to defeat the water bond that will be on California’s November ballot," explained Bruce Tokars, the documentary's producer. "The $11.1 billion dollar measure is a pork-filled, naked power grab that will enrich a small group of wealthy powerful interests at the expense of an already bankrupt California - and that’s just for starters. If it passes, it will kill the Delta and be the end for the biggest and most important estuary in North and South America, San Francisco Bay. We want the water bond to die!"