Schwarzenegger Celebrates 'Green' Policies as He Wages War On Fisheries and Waterways


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday engaged in another cynical photo opportunity celebrating his "leadership role" in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to promote the false notion that he is the "Green Governor" as he continues to wage a relentless war on Central Valley salmon and Delta smelt populations.

Schwarzenegger commemorated the third anniversary of the signing of AB 32, a bill that he touted as "the world's first comprehensive law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," in a carefully choreographed appearance at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

"Every year it becomes more apparent that no single issue threatens the health and prosperity of our world, or provides a greater opportunity for economic success than climate change -- and that is why California has stepped up to take the lead," Schwarzenegger gushed. "Three years ago I signed the world's most comprehensive global warming law and since then our emissions have been reduced, our green economy has grown and our policies have influenced the world."

AB 32 mandates a reduction of California's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and calls for an 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.

"But that was only the first step," he claimed. "Global warming is a global problem that requires a global solution and I am committed to working toward that solution so our children and grandchildren are left with a clean environment and a strong economy."

Schwarzenegger's speech is a prelude to more "green" posturing by the "Fish Terminator" next week. Schwarzenegger will be supposedly "furthering California's leadership and the fight against global warming" next week from September 30 to October 2 at the Global Climate Summit 2" at the Hyatt Regency Century in Los Angeles.

"Leaders from around that world will come together and collaborate on efforts to further the global fight against climate change and to help build momentum to climate talks in Copenhagen this December," explained a release from the Governor's office.

I'm sure that the corporate media and some "Big Green" groups will be falling over themselves to applaud the Governor's "leadership" role in promoting "green energy" scams. However, for those of thus who have actually examined the Governor's environmental record towards fish and water, it is an unprecedented disaster. Schwarzenegger praises himself for working for a solution that will lead to a "clean environment and a strong economy" for future generations, but the "clean" environment that he envisions is apparently devoid of fish and fishermen.

Schwarzenegger has presided over the collapse of Central Valley chinook salmon, green sturgeon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, striped bass, and other fish populations, caused by record water exports from the California Delta and declining water quality in recent years. Rather than try to reverse the collapse of these imperiled fish populations, Schwarzenegger has gone out of his way to fight court ordered federal plans to protect smelt, salmon, sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales (orcas) and to promote a peripheral canal and more dams at the service of corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

Governor Schwarzenegger last Thursday appeared on a FOX TV "News" show by neoconservative talk show host Sean Hannity that falsely portrayed the battle to restore Central Valley salmon and the Delta as an issue of "fish versus jobs." Like Hannity and Congressman Devin Nunes, Schwarzenegger blamed structural unemployment in the Valley on the federal biological opinion protecting Delta smelt and chinook salmon -- and failed to acknowledge that the collapse of Central Valley salmon alone has led to the loss of 23,000 recreational and commercial fishing jobs in California and Oregon in 2008 and 2009.

"We have a terrible crisis on our hands," said Schwarzenegger. "And this is a crisis, not because of some disaster. It's a crisis self-inflicted. This is something that the federal government is doing to us. We have done, like you said, everything in the book to convince them otherwise and to turn on the water. So, we are being handicapped here by federal judges, and this is the terrible thing about it."

Schwarzenegger shamelessly used his interview as an opportunity to campaign for new water "infrastructure" -- a peripheral canal and more dams that fishing and most environmental groups are opposing. "In the meantime, I think it's also important for you to note that we're moving ahead here in Sacramento, because we have been negotiating for years to create a water infrastructure, to bring our water infrastructure up to date, because we have now 38 million people in California," said Schwarzenegger. "And the last infrastructure that you see now that was done was done when we had around 18 million people."

Schwarzenegger's attack on the federal biological opinions and his campaign to build a peripheral canal and dams are just two in series of measures that Schwarzenegger has launched to seal the doom of California's fish populations and the environment. His many attacks on fish, the environment, and working fishermen and fisherwomen include the following:

  • His administration did nothing to prevent or alleviate the largest fish kill in the history of the California Delta in November 2007. Tens of thousands of striped bass, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento splittail, largemouth bass and other species perished when the Bureau of Reclamation repaired a levee in the North Delta at Prospect Island and the fish were left stranded in drying pools of water. When a group of volunteer sportsmen organized a large crew to rescue some of remaining fish, the Schwarzenegger administration did everything they could to discourage the highly successful fish rescue -- and it was only because of the hard work of Jeff McCracken of the Bureau of Reclamation that the rescue was able to take place.
  • His appointees on the Central Valley Water Control Board have consistently voted against holding agricultural polluters to the same standards that industry and municipalities are required to observe, resulting in declining water quality in the Delta.
  • He has made the DFG into an agency joined at the hip with the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the agency responsible for much of the destruction of Delta and Central Valley fisheries.
  • His abysmal leadership resulted in the state opting to appeal a decision by Alameda County Court Judge Frank Roesch requiring the DFG to get an incidental take permit from DWR for killing Delta smelt, winter run chinook and spring run chinook in the Delta pumps.
  • While doing everything he can to serve corporate agribusiness in the destruction of Central Valley and Delta fisheries, Schwarzenegger has fast-tracked the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. This racist, elitist and corrupt process will remove Pomo Tribe members from their traditional seaweed, abalone and mussel harvesting areas in Sonoma and Mendocino County, as well as deny sustainable recreational and commercial fishermen and seaweed harvesters their right to access their traditional harvesting areas. This process is being falsely promoted as "marine protection" when it does nothing to stop threats posed to marine ecosystems by pollution, oil spills and plans to build offshore oil rigs and wave energy projects off the northern California coast.
  • His administration has done nothing to stop this summer's de-watering of the Shasta and Scott rivers, tributaries of the Klamath River, by irrigators, putting imperiled runs of coho salmon, chinook salmon at tremendous risk.

Yesterday afternoon, the Klamath Riverkeeper reported that high numbers of fall Chinook salmon returning to the Shasta River are coming home to record low flows and extremely hot weather this week, creating "ideal conditions for a large-scale fish kill in the Shasta River." Biologists and water managers with state and federal agencies are monitoring the situation closely as irrigators continue to maximize water withdrawals through the late September heat wave.

"We need to get more water in the river immediately," said Erica Terence of Klamath Riverkeeper. "Unfortunately, the fish are moving much quicker than the resource managers on the Scott and Shasta Rivers this year."

As I have asked before, when will corporate environmentalists and the mainstream media stop praising the governor for his "environmental leadership" and develop the courage to challenge Schwarzenegger's scorched earth policies in his war on California's fisheries?

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