Skip to main content

In 28 years of covering fish, water and environmental politics in the West, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative is the most corrupt public process I've ever reported on.

The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), a landmark law signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999 to create a network of marine protected areas in state waters along the California coast, was designed to provide comprehensive protection to the marine ecosystem. However, the law was eviscerated under Schwarzenegger's privately-funded MLPA Initiative.  

The initiative, overseen by oil industry, real estate, marina development and other corporate representatives, took water pollution, oil drilling and spills, wave energy development, corporate aquaculture, military testing, habitat destruction and all other human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering off the table in its perverse concept of marine "protection."

There are six major lessons to be learned from the MLPA fiasco so that the inherent flaws of the initiative are never repeated in any process anywhere.

  1. Never fund a public conservation process with private, unaccountable money, especially in a case where you are in effect removing stakeholders from public access. The roots of the MLPA's problems largely derive from the privatization of conservation through the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, a private corporation.
  1. Always consult with Indian Tribes on closures of areas and other regulations that may impact their ceremonial and gathering rights and sacred sites, as protected by state, federal and international laws, including the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was NOT done in the Central Coast process, in a bad case of institutional racism. It was very poorly and minimally done in the North Central Coast and South Coast. It was not until the process came to the North Coast that language respecting the fishing and gathering rights of Tribes was included in a proposal for marine protected areas.
  1. When designing MPAs, you must include other human uses other than fishing and gathering. Otherwise the "marine protected areas" become "marine privatization areas" that aren't protected from water pollution, oil spills and drilling, wave energy projects, military testing and other human impacts on the ocean.
  1. Never appoint corporate hacks like oil industry lobbyists, real estate executives and developers to panels designed to "protect" the ocean. Having Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chair the South Coast MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force was about as crazy a conflict of interest that you could ever come up with!
  1. Make sure that you have a funding mechanism for enforcement in place BEFORE you even think about instituting a process like the MLPA Initiative. The wardens call MPAs "Marine Poaching Areas" because California, with the lowest per capita ratio of wardens to the population of any state in the nation, doesn't have enough wardens to patrol new marine reserves, let alone the existing marine protected areas.
  1. We need to eliminate "Blue Ribbon Panels" and create "Blue Collar Panels" where grassroots people, rather than political hacks and corrupt big business interests, make decisions about public policy in an atmosphere of real democracy. To start off the MLPA process with a chair like Phil Isenberg, a well connected political lobbyist, is the absolute wrong way to do things. He then went on to chair the Delta Vision plan to build a peripheral canal, showing the direct link between the peripheral canal greenwashing and MLPA greenwashing.

In spite of the claims by MLPA officials and proponents that the process is "open, transparent and inclusive," it is anything but. Californians must pressure their Legislators and the Brown administration to suspend or cancel the corrupt MLPA Initiative - and to learn from its inherent flaws to avoid making the same mistakes in any future public conservation processes.

Originally posted to Dan Bacher on Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 02:36 PM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site