Environmental Groups Across California Oppose Legislative Water Package

Representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other corporate environmental groups who have participated in back door negotiations with Legislative leaders, Westlands Water District and Metropolitan Water District claim that the "environmental community" is behind the proposed water legislation currently being considered at the State Capitol.

However, nothing could be further from the truth, since grassroots environmental organizations, fishing groups and environmental justice organizations throughout the state oppose the deals that the NRDC, Environmental Defense and the Nature Conservancy are making behind closed doors without input from Delta legislators and communities. This water legislation package, rather than "restore" the Delta ecosystem as its proponents contend, clears the path for the construction of a peripheral canal that would result in pushing imperiled Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations over the abyss of extinction.

Today environmental groups from around California weighed in with their opposition to the dangerous proposed water legislation. The Sierra Club California, Planning and Conservation League, Friends of the River and the Butte Environmental Council have all joined Restore the Delta, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), California Striped Bass Association, Clean Water Action, the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Northern California River Watch, the Public Trust Alliance and the Environmental Protection Information Center in opposing the legislative water package, including the estimated $9 billion general obligation bond.

"Over the past several months, these groups have attended every public hearing to voice their concerns on the proposed water legislation," according to a joint press release. "Unfortunately, over the past month there have been no public meetings and the major decisions on this package were made entirely behind closed doors."

These groups have repeatedly criticized the proposed budget-busting legislation, being pushed by corporate agribusiness and other water exporters, for being financially and economically unsustainable.

Jonas Minton, Water Policy Advisor of the Planning and Conservation League, said, "Unfortunately, the proposal being pushed by those who take water from the Delta would be neither environmentally nor economically sustainable." (San Diego Union Tribune, 10/29/09)

Jim Metropulos, Senior Advocate for Sierra Club California, stated, “They’re proposing 19th century solutions for a 20th century problem.” He wants lawmakers to put more emphasis on conservation instead. “Sadly the legislature cannot pass a law to get more rain to fall in California. And, we certainly don’t know what effects climate change will have on rain patterns...on snow pack storage and melt...but we have to keep that in mind." (Capitol Public Radio 10/26/09)

Steve Evans, Conservation Director of Friends of the River, said, “A $9 billion bond will cost the taxpayers $576 million a year for 30 years. It’s just not feasible because the state’s debt service on bonds already authorized by the voters will grow to about 10% of the state’s budget and will contribute to more state funding cuts for public safety, health, education, and environmental protection have been slashed to the bone." (http://www.IndyBay.org, October 13)

These groups recently proposed a set of groundbreaking policy recommendations that would both protect the Bay-Delta ecosystem and move the water debate forward. The recommendations included values driven management, comprehensive reform of existing agencies and sustainable financing that would not drive California deeper into debt.

"These reforms would be cheaper to implement, produce more sustainable outcomes, and would ultimately provide more reliable and resilient water resources to support a healthy California public, environment and economy than the current water package," according to the groups.

For more information, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org

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