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Reposted from jpmassar by mettle fatigue

The first 500+ megawatt solar plant in the US, and the largest solar plant in the world came online recently.  Called the Topaz Solar Farm, it was built on the Carrizo Plain, located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, due east of San Luis Obispo. The farm is now producing 550 megawatts, enough to keep the lights on in 160,000 homes and displace 370,000 tons of carbon emissions.


 photo solar-array-topaz_zps35e2ff08.jpg

When I was a kid farmers baled hay and milked cows. Now they herd photons as well. Sometimes there really is progress.

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Reposted from Dan Bacher by tgypsy

Prop. 1, Governor Jerry Brown's water bond, is behind us. What do we still need to do?

The Delta Tunnels are looming before us: What’s coming in the fight by fishermen, Indian Tribes, environmentalists, family farmers and concerned Californians against the tunnel?

Well, Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, and salmon and other Pacific fisheries, announced today they will hold a news teleconference on Wednesday, November 12, to address the looming fight over the BDCP tunnels.

The conference will address the following questions:

• What is the current status of the BDCP, and what is the next battle?

• What did the EPA’s critical comments letter mean for the status of the BDCP tunnels?

• What is the status of the financing of the BDCP – who is paying and who is not?

• What does the proposed settlement of the Westlands Water District debt to the public mean?

• Inot the tunnels, what is our solution to our water challenges?

The experts will call for a new Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).  

The opponents charge that the EIR/EIS process has been fatally flawed due to its lack of public outreach to non-English speakers, failure to present a funding plan, exclusion of any non-tunnels alternative, and scientists’ identification of numerous “red flags.”

WHAT:      Tunnels Opponents: What’s Up with Gov. Brown’s Tunnels?

WHEN:       Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014
10:30 am News Teleconference;

WHO:        Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta;
Bob Wright, Friends of the River;
Mike Jackson, Water Law Expert

WHERE:    Teleconference 1.800.434.1335 647995#
(limited lines, media preference)

Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve@hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara@restorethedelta.org; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Restore the Delta is a 15,000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. www.restorethedelta.org

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Reposted from Dan Bacher by mettle fatigue

Contributions to the Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign soared to $13,212,726 on Friday, October 24 as corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies, billionaires and the health care industry continued to dump millions of dollars into Jerry Brown’s campaign to pass the water bond.

The main committee, “Brown; Yes on Props 1 and 2, A Bipartisan Coalition of Business, Labor, Republicans, Democrats and Governor," has raised $12,418,226 and has spent $11,221,528 to date.

The California Business Political Action Committee, sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce, has raised $794,500 and has spent $312,401 for the campaign to date.

In contrast , the Vote No on Prop. 1 campaign, has raised $89,100 and has spent $53,077 to date. (http://ballotpedia.org/..._(2014))

The campaign for and against Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November 4 ballot, remains the classic David and Goliath battle of this election season in California.

Governor Jerry Brown, the Republican and Democratic Party establishment, corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies, construction unions, corporate "environmental" NGOs, prominent billionaires, the health care industry and big water agencies are backing the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. In contrast, a grassroots coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, consumer organizations, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta water agencies is campaigning to defeat Proposition 1.

The top 18 campaign contributors – those who donated $250,000 or more - have raised a total of $11,835,279 to date for the Yes on 1 campaign, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). (http://fppc.ca.gov/...)

Dignity Health, which just contributed $250,000, is the latest corporate contributor to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. That donation followed the contribution of $250,000 to the campaign by Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil.

The Bakersfield-based Aera Energy is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company’s website. (http://www.aeraenergy.com/...)  

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, have donated a total of $850,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000 and the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of Paramount Farms and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000 and the California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign.

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels - and have made millions off reselling environmental water to the public.

For an an excellent article on the Resnicks, pleased read, "Water, Money, Taxes, Campaigns, and the Bond: The Resnick Farming Story," by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla and various associates at: http://restorethedelta.org/...  

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign to date remains Sean Parker, who has contributed $1 million to the campaign. Parker is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook. He also cofounded Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime. As of September, 2014, Parker's net worth was estimated to be $3.1 billion, according to Wiikipedia.

Four members of the Fisher family, who own the controversial Gap stores and Mendocino Redwood Company, have collectively donated $1.5 million to the Yes. on Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 campaign. Doris F. Fisher contributed $499,000, John J. Fisher $351,000, Robert J. Fisher $400,000 and William S. Fisher $250,000. The Gap become notorious for employing sweatshop labor in the Third World to produce its clothes.

In contrast to the $13,212,726 in donations to the Prop. 1 and 2 campaigns listed on the FPPC website, the FPPC states, “No committee opposing this ballot measure raised enough money to reach the reporting threshold."

Updated List of Top Contributors to Prop. 1 and 2 (over $250,000)

A contributor whose name is marked with an asterisk made a contribution to a committee that simultaneously supported or opposed more than one statewide ballot measure on the November 4, 2014 ballot. Because of this it is not possible to determine the amount of the contribution that was spent specifically on the campaign for any particular measure. In these cases the contributions are listed for every ballot measure the committee has been formed to support or oppose. This results in the same contribution appearing multiple times – once for each ballot measure the committee supports or opposes.

Supporting
1 Brown for Governor 2014* -  $5,026,529
2 Sean Parker* - $1,000,000
3 California Alliance for Jobs - Rebuild California Committee* - $521,250
4 California Hospitals Committee on Issues, Sponsored by California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems* - $500,000
5 Doris Fisher* - $499,000
6 L. John Doerr* - $475,000
7 Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition - Issues PAC* - $400,000
8 Robert Fisher* - $400,000
9 John Fisher* - $351,000
10 Dignity Health - $250,000
11 Western Growers Service Corporation* - $250,000
12 Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Issues PAC* - $250,000
13 Reed Hastings* - $250,000
14 California American Council of Engineering Companies Issues Fund* - $250,000
15 Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Issues Committee (including contributions from Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Legislative Improvement Committee)* - $250,000
16 California Farm Bureau Federation* - $250,000
17 William Fisher* - $250,000
18 Aera Energy LLC* $250,000
Total from top contributors $ $11,835,279  

Tribal Chief, River and Groundwater Protectors Oppose Prop. 1

Area tribal leaders, river and groundwater protection advocates announced Friday they will oppose Proposition 1, the State Water Bond, at a Redding news conference on Monday, Oct. 27.  

“The Sacramento River and the tax payers of California deserve better than this water bond. This bond does little  for fisheries, little for multi-benefit flood protection projects needed in Northern  California, and little to provide short or long term solutions to the water problems in our state,” said Lucas Ross-Merz, of the Sacramento River Preservation Trust.

WHAT: Tribal Leaders, River and Groundwater Advocates to Oppose
Prop. 1 – Harms Rivers and Fisheries

WHEN: Monday, October 27, 2014 11:00 am  

WHO: Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Advisor for the Winnemem
Wintu; Tom Stokely, California Water Impact Network (CWIN); Lucas
Ross-Merz - Sacramento River Preservation Trust; Carol Perkins (BEC) –
Butte Environmental Council

WHERE:  Lake Redding Park, Redding (Next to the river off of Market Street
by the salmon jump viewing area)

For more information, go to http://www.noonprop1.org

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Reposted from Giles Goat Boy by mettle fatigue Editor's Note: Every American town needs people singing brave like this. -- mettle fatigue

I haven't offered an update on the Solidarity Sing Along in a while, but it is still going strong. The sing along is a noon-hour singing protest that has occurred at the Wisconsin State Capitol every weekday, including holidays, since March 11, 2011. It began when the larger protests against Governor Scott Walker's union-busting law began to wane.

photo by the unintimidated Lisa Wells
For nearly four years now, between 20 and 100 (and at times, hundreds) of citizens have gathered in the rotunda or on the Capitol lawn on their lunch hours to sing for an hour in support of labor rights, the environment, women's health issues, education, and the first amendment.

In addition to the daily Sing Along, resistance to the Walker brand of neo-fascism has included the displaying of banners in the rotunda, the writing of messages on the Capitol sidewalk with sidewalk chalk, and the occasional yelling of "Walker Sucks!"

The persistent public shaming of Mr. Walker and his Republican co-conspirators in the state legislature by concerned citizens did not sit well with the governor, who ousted the well-regarded Chief of the Capitol Police a couple years ago and replaced him with one of Walker's bodyguards from the State Patrol with a mandate to crack down on the singers. No, I am not making that up.

On the eve of the 2012 anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster, the unqualified and uncharismatic new chief, David Erwin, did a stiff interview with a local right-wing propaganda site claiming that the Capitol singers and others were "terrorizing" schoolchildren, grandmothers, and lawmakers with sensitive dispositions. After that ill-timed comparison of folk singers to terrorists was highlighted (and ridiculed) by legitimate media, Erwin ordered his officers (themselves having had their own union busted by Walker) to issue citations to people they could identify, and that's what they did. First, they issued them by mail or in person at people's homes, then occasionally in person right after the noon Sing Along.

Eventually, after it was clear that the gently-delivered tickets were failing to motivate people to stop gathering and singing, Erwin ordered his officers to arrest people in the Capitol and issue them citations for failing to disperse from an unlawful assembly. They arrested hundreds of people in the rotunda over the course of a few months in the summer of 2013.

You can probably guess what happened. The gatherings became larger and larger, attracting more local citizens who saw the arrests of their neighbors as unnecessary bullying. The arrests continued. For the most part the singers simply kept singing as they were being cuffed. A few people were charged with resisting for sitting down when confronted by police, but none of the arrestees ever became violent. (I can say that with confidence since I was there most days and there are literally hundreds of photos and videos from each day of arrests. The only violence that occurred was perpetrated by police when they arrested two young, black activists who were there to observe and sing, like everyone else. The arresting of singers ended after video surfaced showing that the police lied about the circumstances surrounding the arrests of the two men and bogus criminal charges against one of them were dropped.)

Since then, the Sing Along legend has grown as social activists, labor union members, and musical artists from around the world have sent word of their support, or even journeyed to Madison to join the singers, but the legal mess created by Walker and Erwin has gotten even messier. For a number of reasons, including common sense, the local district attorney refused to prosecute the tickets, so the state Attorney General, Republican J.B. Van Hollen, offered to step in and have the state do the dirty work. Surely the singers would tremble at the awesome power of the Van Hollen machine, right?

Wrong. The singers fought back. Most pled not guilty and demanded jury trials. With assistance from the Madison chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and others, the singers who stood their ground (through their attorneys or sometimes representing themselves) have convinced the courts to dismiss the citations before even going to trial. It's been a long, ongoing legal battle, but the courts have held consistently that the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda is a traditional public forum and that the people who have assembled there to sing and protest have done so lawfully.

One thing about petty dictators is that they don't give up, though, and Walker, Erwin, and Van Hollen haven't given up on their silly campaign against sidewalk chalk, satin banners, and folk music sung by peaceful protesters. For the rest of the story, jump over that crumpled orange banner and read the latest press release from the Madison chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

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Reposted from Climate Action Hub by mettle fatigue
The importance of family farming is the theme of today's World Food Day, as international organizations collaborate to draw attention to the critical role small scale family farms play in solving world hunger and addressing global food security.

Globally,  500 million of the 570 million farms worldwide are family farms, responsible for growing produce and grain, raising livestock and managing fisheries but also for harvesting non-wood forest products.  

“Every year, we witness hunger’s devastating effect on families, communities and whole economies,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “But despite horrific crises engulfing entire regions, we are making real progress in the fight to sustainably and durably end hunger and chronic malnutrition. Thanks to the work we do with our partners on emergency preparedness, support to family farmers, nutritional assistance – particularly in a child’s first 1,000 days – and building the resilience of communities to withstand shocks, millions of people are now better able to focus on building a future free of hunger for themselves and the next generation.”

While the Global Food Index released earlier this week showed some improvements in the scope of hunger worldwide, the statistics remain staggering.

1. 1 in 9 people (805 million) are starving
2. 2 billlion people are afflicted with 'hidden hunger:" deficiencies in microntrients due to lack of access to the ingredients of a diet composed of adequate quantis of vitamins, protein and minterals.
3. Malnutrition has stunted the growth of 26% of the world's children
4. Approximately 70% of food insecure populations reside in rural Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East.

And according to the Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) report, hunger can reduce a country's workforce by 9.4% and national GDPs by up to 16.5%

Here's a brief overview of some of today's campaigns.

Reclaim Power has aligned its actions today with the family farmer and international peasant organization La Via Campesina in a World Day of Action For Food Sovereignty and against transnational corporations.

"Climate change and its impacts is increasingly hurting our capacity to grow and cultivate food - but so-called 'solutions' to climate change are also devastating many communities and their food sovereignty. On World Food Day this year, October 16, Reclaim Power partners will be taking actions against two of these false solutions - "megadams" and "agrofuels." (Actions today are happening in Peru, South Africa and Canada)



Oxfam: Season of Action Against Hunger

As part of World Hunger day, Oxfam is taking a multi-pronged approach, urging families to "Start a conversation, try a recipe, and raise awareness."

• Join with family members and invite friends to share a meal and discuss:

1. Where does our food come from?  

A lot of energy is wasted trying to grow food in the wrong place, or at the wrong time of year. Do you know where any of the ingredients in this meal come from? How much of the food we’re eating is grown in the US, and how much is grown in other countries? If you could only buy food within a 100-mile radius, or within a 1,000-mile radius, how would it change your diet and life choices? Are any of the ingredients in this meal in season right now? How might we change the way we cook depending on what’s in season?
2. Who grows our food?
About 1.5 billion women and men live and work on small farms around the world. When you picture a farmer, who do you see? What kind of crops do farmers grow in our community or state? When was the last time you bought something grown on a nearby farm? What dishes did you make using these ingredients?
3. In recognition of the important role small scale family farms play in addressing global hunger, The UN has established 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming.
For example, when small-scale farmers receive fair prices for their produce, they are better able to buy food for their own families. What might be some of the differences between being a family farmer here in the US and being a family farmer in a developing country? What do you think these farmers have in common? Does your family grow any food, and if so, what do you grow? What are some ways your family can support farming families when you shop and eat?
4. Despite the fact that world famers are still capable of growing enough food for everyone, every night 1 in 8 people still go to to bed hungry.

 

What are some of the reasons that people go hungry? Can you name some places in the world where people are experiencing hunger right now? Can anyone share an experience of witnessing hunger, here in the US or elsewhere? What are some specific things we as individuals can do to help end hunger for others, locally and globally?
5. Nearly 1/3 of food never makes it to the plates of people who most need it:  
How often do you throw out food? Where do you see the most food waste in your home and in your community? What kind of meal could you make with the leftovers from this dinner so that no food is wasted? What strategies could help your family to waste less food?
• Change your food choices:

Oxfam's GROW program focuses on how folks can help small-scale farmers right from their kitchen tables by not wasting food, shopping seasonally, eating less, and makeing changes to their culinary repertoire by sampling new recipes using ingredients which will benefit family farmers. (see sample menus)

• Donate: Respond to a crisis: As the people from South Sudan cope with the catastrophes and displacement from ongoing conflict, many have been uprooted from their homes and unable to plant their fields. Your donations can help nearly seven million people are at risk of severe food insecurity.


World Food Program' (WFP) Call for Zero Hunger Campaign

The WFP's zero hunger campaign this year has aligned with corporate partners Unilever, and Knorr (asking employees and the public to pledge support to end global hunger); Michael Kors (soliciting support from customers with purcases or in store donation); and Yum! Brands (rallying people to raise funds for the WFP VIA THE #PassTheRedCup social media campaign.

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Reposted from Dan Bacher by mettle fatigue

Activists will Blockade, Risk Arrest to Stop Nestlé from Stealing Millions of Gallons of Area Water

SACRAMENTO – A coalition of water advocates said it plans to "shut down" the Nestlé water bottling plant here early Thursday morning – the blockade could take place anytime between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. – to prevent "further theft of millions of gallons of Sacramento water during the drought".

Activists said they will risk arrest if necessary to block the trucks going into and out of Nestlé, according to a press release.

Activists will begin gathering as early as 5 a.m. Thursday/Oct. 16 in front of the Nestlé office entrance (8670 Younger Creek/Younger Creek Drive off Florin-Perkins Road to parking lot at Nestlé's office).

The protest is expected to last all day, with environmentalists, Native American groups and community activists surrounding the water bottling plant.

Concerned about dwindling local and state water supplies during an historic drought, a large coalition of environmental, Native American and labor groups held a news conference last week at Nestlé  to announce a campaign to close the Nestlé water bottling plant.

The Coalition released a "White Paper" detailing Mayor Kevin Johnson's "sweetheart" deal that allows  Nestlé's virtually unlimited use of water – up to 80 million gallons a year drained from local aquifers – while Sacramentans have been ordered to restrict lawn watering, showering and other water uses.

"Nestlé pays only 99 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground, and is contractually allowed to take up to 80 million gallons a year and sell it back to Sacramentans for an obscene profit," the coalition stated.

Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said: "In Sacramento our mayor has given Nestlé the right for pennies on the dollar to drain our aquifers, bottle the water and sell it back to the people at exorbitant profits while we are in a severe drought. We say Nestlé,  it's crunch time and we are coming to shut you down."

Contact: Andy Conn 530-906-8077 camphgr55@gmail.com or Bob Saunders (916) 370-8251
 

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Reposted from weinenkel by mettle fatigue
From the Center for Biological Diversity comes some troubling news:
Almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater have been illegally dumped into central California aquifers that supply drinking water and farming irrigation, according to state documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity. The wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants.

High levels of arsenic, thallium and nitrates were also found in water-supply wells around waste-disposal locations. These, of course, have yet to be tested to find out the true nature of their relationship to the waste-management facilities nearby.
The state’s Water Board confirmed beyond doubt that at least nine wastewater disposal wells have been injecting waste into aquifers that contain high-quality water that is supposed to be protected under federal and state law.

Thallium is an extremely toxic chemical commonly used in rat poison. Arsenic is a toxic chemical that can cause cancer. Some studies show that even low-level exposure to arsenic in drinking water can compromise the immune system’s ability to fight illness.
“Arsenic and thallium are extremely dangerous chemicals,” said Timothy Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands. “The fact that high concentrations are showing up in multiple water wells close to wastewater injection sites raises major concerns about the health and safety of nearby residents.”

[bold my emphasis]

The findings are a cause for serious anxiety. The extent of the testing that is still needed is even more distressing. This is yet another painful example of why caution must be exercised when stepping forward into the lucrative fracking industry.

California State Water Resources Control Board's letter can be found here.

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Reposted from Dan Bacher by tgypsy

Mock reception outside the Resnick mansion on Oct. 2!

Want to have some fun and challenge corporate agribusiness at the same time? Then attend a mock reception outside the home of famous (infamous) Delta water diverters, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, hosted by the No on Proposition 1 campaign.

There will be be a rally and press conference at this "reception" with the Koch Brothers of California Water on Thursday, October 2 from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the home of Stewart and Lynda Resnick — 9481 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Meet on the grassy median on Sunset Blvd. outside their home.

This rally and press conference launches the Los Angeles campaign against Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown's water bond, on the California ballot, and exposes the Resnicks, who stand to benefit from the two dams funded by the latest state water bond. That's why they have been dubbed "The Koch Brothers of California Water" and the No on Prop 1 Campaign is holding a press conference outside their opulent Beverly Hills mansion.

The rally will highlight that Proposition 1 unfairly allocates up to $3.6 billion for new dams and water transfers for corporate agribusinesses such as Resnick’s Paramount Farms and should be rejected by voters.

"The majority of the water taken from the Delta goes to corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley--the most powerful being Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who own POM Wonderful, Wonderful Pistachios, Halos, Cuties, and popular brands," according to Restore the Delta.

Water Barons Stewart and Lynda Resnick hog California's water to irrigate water-intensive crops grown on toxic soil in the south Central Valley and then export the lion's share to emerging markets like China. They are the most powerful corporate agribusiness pushing to build the BDCP twin tunnels. Proposition 1 will funnel water to the 1% and do nothing to address our dire drought.

"We could be investing in real solutions to our water crisis, but instead almost 40% of Prop 1 prioritizes more dams (to store water we don't have) and water transfers for greedy corporate agribusiness, like the Resnicks," according to the announcement for the event from Food and Water Watch. "Just what we need, empty dams! We don't have more money or water to waste subsidizing corporate interests!"

Formal wear is encouraged for this reception, but not required. This fun action includes lots of fun signage, and refreshments served by Resnick impersonators who are eager to tell you how Prop 1 forces taxpayers like us to bankroll projects that make the Resnicks and their friends even richer.

I urge everybody to join the mock reception as water bond opponents tell the media: Prop 1 is a blank check for the 1% and the Resnicks!

For more information about the event, go to: http://www.facebook.com/...

Background: California voters will soon decide the fate of Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion bond measure that with interest would cost California taxpayers $14.4 billion. That would take $360 million per year for 40 years out of our State’s general fund—money that could be used for other needs like education and healthcare.

Over one-third of Prop 1—$2.7 billion—is prioritized for spending without oversight by the legislature to build dams for corporate agribusiness. In addition, an additional $500 to $900 million could be used to purchase water transfers for these interests, many of which are growing and exporting water-intensive crops to China. Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms is one of the largest and most politically influential growers that has consistently demanded more water at the expense of the public and the environment.

Proposition 1 won’t solve our drought problems and fails to address the root causes of California’s water crisis. California needs to invest billions of dollars in fixing our cities’ crumbling and leaking water and sewer systems, expanding water recycling and cleaning up groundwater, and prioritizing water for disadvantaged communities. Prop 1 provides woefully inadequate funds for these activities and would force taxpayers to pay for dams that won’t create any new water for most Californians.

Background: Billionaire 'Environmentalist' Exerts Huge Influence Over Water Policies

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills billionaire owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, has been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels.

Lance Williams of the Center for Investigative Reporting in December 2009 succinctly described the powerful agribusiness tycoon as a "one-man environmental wrecking crew.” (http://www.alternet.org/...)

Resnick's influence on California water policies has only increased since then. On April 25, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, exposed in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle the enormous influence of Stewart Resnick and his wife, Lynda, and the Westlands Water District on the water and fish policies of Governor Jerry Brown and his predecessors. (http://www.sfgate.com/...)

“The influence of the Resnicks and their cohorts in the Westlands and Kern water districts has been brought to bear so heavily on the governor's office during the past three administrations that the fix is basically in on building the peripheral tunnels,” she said.

The Resnicks made $270,000 in contributions to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, $350,000 to support Gov. Gray Davis, and $102,000 to Gov. Jerry Brown, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.

“As a result of the political influence of billionaires who receive taxpayer-subsidized water, the state Department of Water Resources functions almost as a subsidiary of the water exporters,” she said.

“The outsize influence of delta water exporters can be seen in the recent 'drought relief' action by state and federal regulators, which undid with the stroke of a pen Endangered Species Act protections for fisheries that were the result of a decade-long legal challenge. In addition to the requirements set in the biological opinions for delta fisheries, there are three sets of water quality standards arrived at through legal processes that already take into account critical dry-year situations. Two sets of water quality standards are being waived as part of drought emergency measures - one set to protect fisheries, another set to protect water quality for delta family farm,” she continued.

“Beyond that, requirements in the court-issued biological opinions to protect fisheries are being waived. Now, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is working with San Joaquin Valley congressional representatives, who have received numerous campaign contributions from Stewart Resnick, on legislation to further weaken already inadequate protections in order to facilitate increased pumping of delta water to southern water users,” said Barrigan Parrilla.

Yet the wealthy agribusinessman and "one man environmental wrecking crew" also wears another hat - "environmental leader." Yes, Resnick serves on the board of directors of Conservation International, a corporate "environmental" NGO noted for its top-down approach to conservation and involvement with corporate greenwashing throughout the world.

Resnick sits on the board with Rob Walton, the Chairman of the board's Executive Committee. Walton, the oldest child of Sam and Helen Walton, is Chairman of the Board of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

It is no surprise that Conservation International was the top recipient of Walton Family Foundation money in 2013, receiving $20,427,136 including $6,080,392 for the Bird’s Head Seascape, $4,345,744 for the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape and $10,000,000 for “Other Environmental Grants.”

"Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity," according to Conservation International's Mission Statement.

However, while serving on the board of Conservation International, Resnick become notorious for buying subsidized Delta water and then selling it back to the public for a big profit as Delta fish and Central Valley salmon populations crashed.

“As the West Coast’s largest estuary plunged to the brink of collapse from 2000 to 2007, state water officials pumped unprecedented amounts of water out of the Delta only to effectively buy some of it back at taxpayer expense for a failed environmental protection plan, a MediaNews investigation has found,” according an article by the late Mike Taugher in the Contra Costa Times on May 23, 2009. (http://www.revivethesanjoaquin.org/...)

Taugher said the “environmental water account” set up in 2000 to “improve” the Delta ecosystem spent nearly $200 million mostly to benefit water users while also creating a “cash stream for private landowners and water agencies in the Bakersfield area.”

“No one appears to have benefited more than companies owned or controlled by Stewart Resnick, a Beverly Hills billionaire, philanthropist and major political donor whose companies, including Paramount Farms, own more than 115,000 acres in Kern County,” Taugher stated. “Resnick’s water and farm companies collected about 20 cents of every dollar spent by the program.”

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, own Roll International, a Los Angeles-based holding company that includes both global agricultural operations and well-known brands. The Resnicks' companies include Paramount Citrus, Paramount Farming, and Paramount Farms, the world’s largest growers, processors, and marketers of citrus, almonds, and pistachios.

The couple's holdings also include POM Wonderful, FIJI Water, Teleflora, Suterra, and JUSTIN Vineyard.Dubbed the "POM Queen," Lynda is behind the marketing success of POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice and Wonderful Pistachios.

One of the largest private water brokers in the U.S., Roll International makes millions of dollars in profits off marketing subsidized public water back to the public, confirmed independent journalist Yasha Levine.

“Through a series of subsidiary companies and organizations, Roll International is able to convert California’s water from a public, shared resource into a private asset that can be sold on the market to the highest bidder,” said Levine in “How Limousine Liberals, Water Oligarchs and Even Sean Hannity are Hijacking Our Water” on alternet.org. (http://www.alternet.org/...)

More recently, Lois Henry of the Bakersfield Californian revealed how the Resnicks have made a profit selling water from the Kern County Water Bank, through a complicated series of maneuvers, to supply a 2,000 acre development called Gateway Village in Madera County.(http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/...)

The Resnicks are known for the influence they have exerted over California politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties, including former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor Jerry Brown, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and others, through campaign contributions. (http://www.indybay.org/...)  

The Resnicks exert their influence over California politics in other ways besides direct contributions to political campaigns. For example, the executives of Paramount Farms have also set up an Astroturf group, the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, that engages in green washing campaigns such as one blaming striped bass, rather than water exports, for salmon and other fish declines.

Restore the Delta, a coalition opposed to the construction of the peripheral tunnels, pointed out that Resnick, who is one of the biggest Delta water diverters, is not suffering during the drought as family farmers, northern California cities and counties and imperiled salmon and steelhead are. In fact, Fortune magazine on January 21, 2014 wrote about Resnick's $100,000,00 five year advertising campaign to market the "Halos" brand mandarins, as well as their $220 million packinghouse to process the crop.

"Halos' owner -- Los Angeles-based company Roll Global, which also makes POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and Fiji Water -- plans to as much as double output in the next five years," the magazine said. "In order to juice demand, the company recently launched a five-year, $100 million ad campaign, $20 million of which will be spent this year on marketing and TV ads already playing across the country. This season the Halos packinghouse will process the country's largest mandarin harvest, tens of millions of boxes of the fruit." (http://money.cnn.com/...)

Stewart Resnick's position on the board of an "environmental" NGO while he and wife promote policies that are devastating fish, rivers, the Delta and California's environment provides a glimpse of the larger picture of corporate greenwashing that occurs with groups that receive grants from the Walton Family Foundation, the organization set up by the family who own Walmart. A complete list of Walton Family Foundation environmental grants is available at: http://2013annualreport.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/...
 

Discuss
Reposted from Dan Bacher by tgypsy

On September 9, Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07) introduced a bill with Congressmen Jerry McNerney (CA-09) and John Garamendi (CA-03) to block FY 2015 federal funds from being used for California’s controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.

The Brown administration has asked the federal government to contribute nearly $4 billion to help it implement the plan for the twin tunnels under the Delta.

"The BDCP is a flawed plan that does nothing to increase our water supply and only diverts more water from the Sacramento area to Southern California" said Congressman Bera. "Not only that, but it will cost taxpayers billions, and hurt countless farmers and small businesses in our region. We must stop this misguided plan and continue to fight for real bipartisan solutions to secure water access and storage throughout our state."

"Yesterday I introduced a bill I wrote to make sure no federal money goes towards the BDCP," said Congressman McNerney. "We should not spend a dime on the BDCP until we are satisfied that it truly protects the unique ecosystem of the California Delta and the lives and livelihoods of the families, farmers and small businesses that depend on it. We need a better solution to our water issues, including above- and below ground storage, recycling and conservation, and desalinization."

“California’s woefully inadequate water infrastructure definitely needs more federal investment, but the twin tunnels are a boondoggle and poor use of taxpayer dollars," said Congressman Garamendi, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. "Investments in water conservation, recycling, and storage are needed across the state. Instead of reigniting the California water war, let’s build consensus and invest in the priorities that create more reliable water for the entire state. We can increase supply without destroying the Delta or undermining water rights."

The BDCP includes a proposal for two 33 foot-wide, 35 mile-long tunnels that would divert 112,207 gallons of water per second from the Delta and send it south. Two weeks ago, the state delayed the plan’s implementation due to concerns about the economic and environmental impact of the tunnels, including the potential for more saltwater intrusion.

Both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers raised objections to the BDCP’s assumptions and called for major changes to the plan. The state estimates the project would cost $25 billion, but analyses by independent groups show that the final expense could be more than $67 billion.

The EPA diagnosis pointed out that operating the proposed conveyance facilities “would contribute to increased and persistent violations of water quality standards in the Delta, set under the Clean Water Act,” and that the tunnels “would not protect beneficial uses for aquatic life, thereby violating the Clean Water Act." (http://www.indybay.org/...)

It noted that the EIR/EIS “assumes a 100 percent success rate for habitat restoration, which is not consistent with our experience, or supported by restoration ecology and conservation biology academic literature and scientific investigation” and detailed the likelihood that proposed habitat restoration would exacerbate the production and transport of methylmercury.”

The EPA also criticized the failure to analyze upstream/downstream impacts and observed that there is broad scientific agreement that “existing freshwater flow conditions in the San Francisco Estuary are insufficient to protect the aquatic ecosystem and multiple fish species, and that both increased freshwater flows and aquatic habitat restoration are needed to restore ecosystem processes in the Bay Delta and protect native and migratory fish populations.”

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), said the Bay Delta Conservation Plan “was placed on life support” when the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that a revised EIR/EIS would be delayed until sometime in 2015.

“BDCP’s friends and family anxiously expressed hope that an infusion of additional millions of dollars and months of treatment would enable the project to recover,” quipped Jennings.

“However, the EPA comments coming on top of some 4,500 pages of searing reviews by municipalities, counties and water agencies that would be adversely impacted by the project, almost 2,000 pages of highly critical comments by environmental and fishing organizations, hundreds of pages of harsh analyses by government agencies and stinging comments from many thousands of California citizens reveal that BDCP is suffering from a congenital terminal illness. Additional delay is unlikely to improve BDCP’s prospects for survival,” said Jennings.

The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the steelhead and salmon populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The project will also take vast tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of production in order irrigate toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

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Thu Sep 11, 2014 at 09:13 AM PDT

C.U.A Report - Sacramento Meetup

by cooper888

Reposted from cooper888 by tgypsy

Connect! Unite! Act!


Sacramento Meetup Report


We had an awesome meetup in Sacramento last Saturday (Sep. 6th) at the home of our host, the lovely and ever gracious kestrel.

Unfortunately she was in considerable pain from ongoing back issues. So we made every attempt to make sure she only had to open her doors and hold court with her dogs.

Your hosts, tgypsy, gotmooned and I took care of everything else, or tried to. Kestrel wasn't being a very compliant patient. ;)

kestrel holding court with Gracie, Cooper and Kirby
kestrel holding court with Gracie, Cooper and Kirby
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Reposted from Dan Bacher by tgypsy

Yesterday Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and over two dozen agricultural, water, environmental, labor and corporate representatives called for action on Brown's controversial revised water bond, while defenders of the Delta and its imperiled fish populations slammed the proposed measure for containing $485 million to buy water pumped into the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's peripheral tunnels.

NGOs backing the Governor's revised $7 million bond include the Community Water Center, Nature Conservancy, California Trout, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, California Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). None of these groups, as opposed to the majority of grassroots environmental, fishing and consumer groups across the state, have gone on record against the construction of the twin tunnels, the most environmentally destructive proposed project in California history.

The Nature Conservancy Water Program Director Brian Stranko's statement of praise for the Governor's proposal was typical of those made by pro-bond NGO representatives.

“In this historic drought, our communities are suffering, our farms are suffering and the environment upon which we all depend is suffering. Our window to prepare for future droughts is now," said Stranko. "We need a well-structured Water Bond, one that invests in water infrastructure improvements and one that protects and restores our natural environment. That's what is necessary to get us through this drought and what is necessary to get a bond voters across the state will support in November.”

The press release from the Governor's Office is available here: http://cert1.mail-west.com/...

The Governor and legislative leaders in recent weeks have claimed that the bond must be "tunnels neutral" to garner the support of voters, but there was no mention of "tunnel neutrality" in the statements released by the Governor's Office yesterday.

However, State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) issued a statement claiming that the new bond proposal is "tunnels neutral."

"We fought hard to ensure this bond would be BDCP neutral and to ensure no funds will be used for the Delta Tunnels, including to pay for costs for their mitigation. We also won recognition and first time ever funding of $50 million for the Delta Conservancy, including their ability to fund important agriculture sustainability projects in the Delta. All told, it’s a good deal for the Delta and Northern California," Wolk said.

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Brown's rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, disagreed. The group called upon Delta and other legislators to vote against Governor Brown’s water bond proposal, saying it is NOT “tunnels neutral,” and contains $485 million to buy water to be pumped into the tunnels. RTD called upon Delta legislators to reject any bond with false protections.

“This bond proposal gives the Brown administration $485 million to buy water to be pumped into the tunnels,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “It contains false protections for the Delta, and we call upon legislators, especially those representing the Delta, to vote against it. We are not fooled, and this bond will become a referendum on the tunnels. That is not going to advance the water solutions we need.”

Barrigan-Parrilla said the governor’s flow language would allow public funds to be used to purchase water that could be diverted into the Delta tunnels. The Department of Fish and Wildlife would use up to $485,000,000 from Sections 79733 and 79737 to buy water that would be dedicated under Water Code Section 1707 for instream use in waterways upstream of the Delta.

"However, once that water reached the tunnel intakes it could be diverted into the tunnels," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "The new wording does not prevent that. This water would be available for export from the Delta the same as any other water purchased by the exporters. The public would be paying for that benefit to the exporters."

Barrigan-Parrilla urged people to call Speaker Atkins and President pro Tem Steinberg and let their staff know you are against a water bond with environmental water account funds for water to fill the Delta tunnels and against money for habitat restoration that will pave the way for construction of the Delta tunnels. Their phone numbers are below:

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg: 916-651-4006
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins: 916-319-2078

Kathryn Phillips, Sierra Club California Director, also issued an action alert, "Stop the Free Ride for Dam Builders," about the water bond. She urged Club members and supporters to call Assembly Member Eggman at 916-319-2013 and ask their representatives to VOTE NO on AB 1471 and SB 866 unless they are amended to make sure that there is a level playing field for all California, no preference for Central Valley dams, and responsible legislative oversight of how the money is spent.

"This week, the legislature will vote on either of two bond bills, Senate Bill 866 and Assembly Bill 1471. The bills are identical and if either of them passes, it means that voters will face a $7.2 billion water bond ballot measure in November that will devote a third of its value to dam builders in the Central Valley. And the legislature will forfeit its traditional oversight role for this money for dams," said Phillips.

"Call Assembly Member Eggman at 916-319-2013 and urge your representative to VOTE NO on AB 1471 and SB SB 866. It's OK to call after hours and leave a message," she urged.

BDCP background: Jerry Brown’s Death Tunnels

Governor Jerrry Brown's Bay Delta Delta Conservation Plan to build the 35-mile long peripheral tunnels won't create one drop of new water, but the project will lead to horrendous environmental degradation, according to tunnel critics. The construction of the tunnels, estimated to cost $67 billion, will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

BDCP opponents say Brown's "legacy" project will lead to the death of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas that provides a nursery for many species. It will harm salmon, halibut, leopard shark, soupfin shark, sevengill shark, anchovy, sardine, herring, groundfish and Dungeness crab populations stretching from Southern Washington to Southern California.

Under the guise of habitat restoration, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan will take vast tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of production in order to irrigate toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and provide Delta water to Southern California developers and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County.

The tunnels are being constructed in tandem with the federal government's plan to raise Shasta Dam, a project that will flood many of the remaining sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe that weren't inundated by Shasta Dam.

Discuss
Reposted from Moody Loner by mettle fatigue

Subtitled: Us Poor Bastards what Gotta Live in Teabagger Districts.

I've been talking about this long enough, time to do this.

I'm looking for Kossacks in the CA-23 area, Antelope/Aerospace Valley, Bakersfield, Mojave, Barstow, Victorville/Apple Valley, and any other Red State SoCal Kossack willing to make the trip to meet up at the Lancaster City Park in Lancaster, CA on Saturday, September 20 at 2 PM.

We'll make it a potluck and if enough people sign up I'll BBQ some New England style pulled pork.

Feel free to pass the word to good Dems in the area, as I know a lot of organizing takes place at the phone and face-to-face level here.

Comment below with what you're bringing and suggestions for subsequent venues.

Topics will include getting to know each other, organizing for local candidates and issues, and turning the group over to someone without crippling social aanxieties. If enough of you show up to trigger them.

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