Federal Government

Of "oxygen sags" and Smelt slaughter

Submitted: Jun 28, 2007
On a related note: despite claims from state officials that Delta smelt are no longer in the vicinity of the export pumps, DWR acknowledged it collected 327 smelt at the salvage facilities yesterday. The actual number of smelt killed is likely 30 times that number. -- Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director, June 29, 2007

Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, continues to deny he is a Nancy Boy and fiddles with the controls on his home solar system while the Delta Smelt goes extinct for subsidized cotton.

Cardoza is about as "independent" of special interests as Strom Thurmond, as "moderate" as the Boll Weevil Democrats of 1948, and as "conservative" as the cotton and dairy subsidies in the next Farm Bill.

Come to think of it, the "political science" out of the Shrimp Slayer's office is as weird as fish biology of Los Banos. It makes you wonder if there isn't a huge oxygen sag that envelopes the entire entourage of the Valley's rich and famous.

Badlands editorial staff

California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
“An Advocate for Fisheries, Habitat and Water Quality”
3536 Rainier Avenue, Stockton, CA 95204
Tel: 209-464-5067, Fax: 209-464-1028, E: deltakeep@aol.com
For immediate release:
28 June 2007
For information:
Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director, 209-464-5067, 209-938-9053 (cell)
State and Federal Export Pumps Trigger Massive Killing Zone in Delta at Stockton

(Stockton, CA) Resumption of massive water exports from the Delta by the State Water Projec (SWP) and federal Central Valley Project (CVP) has caused a massive killing zone of low dissolved oxygen to develop in the San Joaquin River at Stockton California. Adequate levels of dissolved oxygen are crucial for the survival of aquatic life. When the Central Valley and State
Water Project (CVP/SWP) export pumping was ramped up (from 850 cfs to 4,500-5,200 cfs) following a brief closure to protect Delta smelt, the majority of water flowing down the San Joaquin was siphoned across Old River to the pumps. Flows in the San Joaquin River near the Port of Stockton (Port) dropped from over 1,000 cfs to as low as 98 cfs (Friday, June 22) and
minus 6 cfs (Wednesday, June 27). In other words, the giant CVP/SWP reversed the flow of the San Joaquin River on June 27. As a result, dissolved oxygen in a 3-5 mile reach of the river, as measured by the Department of Water Resource’s (DWR) real-time monitoring gage at the Port, plummeted to as low as 1.8 mg/L (June 25, and considerably less at depth), which is far below
the water quality standard of 5 mg/L. Significant direct mortality to fish and other aquatic life occurs at these levels.

“Here is yet another painful example of the harmful effects of the excessive export of water from the Delta and the blatant failure by regulatory and resource agencies to enforce the law to address long-standing violations that are cumulatively causing the disintegration of the Delta’s biological tapestry,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. “The Delta is dying because political pressure is preventing agencies charged with protecting the estuary from complying with their statutory mandates,” he said.

Oxygen sags in the Deep Water Channel at the Port occur when algae, fueled by nutrients discharged by upstream farms, encounter the deeper slower-moving water in the ship channel and die, exerting an oxygen demand. However, oxygen sags, which have been observed ever since the CVP/SWP began operation, do not occur whenever San Joaquin River flows are above
900 cfs at Stockton.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board developed a TMDL, through a 6-year stakeholder driven process, to address the problem. The causes of oxygen depletion in the San Joaquin River were identified as reduced flow, discharge of agricultural pollutants and the deepening of the channel to accommodate ships at the Port. However, the Regional Board bowed to political pressure and no meaningful control measures were required, excepting more publicly funded studies and a publicly funded small demonstration aerator project. Meanwhile, aquatic life in the river continues to perish whenever the CVP/SWP pumps siphon off the majority
of water flowing down the San Joaquin River.

Cardoza objects to story...Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced...Letters to the editor

I am writing to set the record straight about my role on the House Rules Committee in response to Saturday's article by Sun-Star Washington Reporter Michael Doyle. The overall tone of the piece suggested that I agree with Democratic leadership 100 percent of the time. While I am proud to be a Democrat, I don't agree with anyone 100 percent of the time and I will continue to put the interests of my district before party politics. It is important for me to address misrepresentations in the article because my seat at the leadership table has enhanced the position of moderates and conservatives in the Caucus, not undermined them. My moderate and independent views have not changed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Sun-Star asked Jamie McInerney, Cardoza's press secretary, to clarify what was misrepresented in the story. He responded that he felt the story should not have termed Cardoza a "lieutenant" of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He listed no other misrepresentations.
The Sun-Star stands behind the accuracy of the story and feels it contained no misrepresentation.

| »

We sicken for the benefit of greedjerks

Submitted: Jun 24, 2007
vanitas vanitatum dixt Ecclesiates, vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas ... omnia tempus habent et suis spatiis transeunt universa sub caelo ... tempus destruendi et tempus aedificandi...

-- Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3.

The chamber needs to move forward and advocate for business, including the planned Wal-Mart distribution center. Good-paying jobs are needed in Merced, with people here making money to fill all the vacant homes, Wells said. -- Merced Sun-Star, June 19, 2007

What a joke. And the apple-pie tossers never seen no man bleeding on the floor of a Delano bar for his pro-labor sympathies. They say the people will rise but they don't make the bet with their bodies or their checkbooks. So, they don't count. They are merely decoration.

The Valley Directorate, the finance, insurance and real estate special interests that rule us -- landowners up close and personal, financial institutions far, far away -- our various tribunals and courts, cannot govern justly for man nor beast. They refuse to deal with an asthma epidemic related to air quality, terrorizing members of the public who raise the issue with the appelation, "asthma terrorists." Their courts summon more panels of scientists on the Delta Smelt problem, because they aren't all dead yet so there's
still time to study the thing. Meanwhile the pumps continue to send water to Valley cotton growers whose subsidies are assured by Democrats in majority but without program or control except power anxiety, and to Southern California, which keeps on growing and extinguishing fish.

The Republicans gained power in order to destroy government. The people restored Democrat power and the Democrats don't know what to do with it, because of course the last thing they would do is listen to the people's extensive list of grievances. We are sure that Dennis Cardoza is "proud to be a Democrat," because like Cardoza, the Democratic party stands for Zilch. Those few, who happen to be Demcrats, like Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, and who happen to have political integrity enough to stand up for the Constitution, do it by themselves, certainly without the backing of numbnut knuckleheads like Cardoza.

Our local land-use authorities cannot be engaged in reasonable discussion and our air board and courts are even less accessible. They have power, you see, and power is very important to them. But, when political power is all one has, the worm appears and begins to feed.

The power structure of the northern San Joaquin Valley is terrified because it is
standing on a financial whirlpool of debt, disappearing into sandy loam at a terrific rate, as a result of decisions made by municipal and county land-use authorities that paid far, far more attention to finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) special interests than it did to the public. The exact simile is what happens to San Joaquin River water when it hits the middle of Fresno County and goes underground. The local land use authorities, which produce a comfortable majority of the members of the air board, were indemnified by developers every step of the way. FIRE is a gracious and omnipotent conglomerate. It made all decisions very easy for them, through the vehicle of legal indemification, by which all legal costs arising from lawsuits opposing local land-use decisions on development projects are paid by the developers.

"No skin off my back," the elected officials said, Back in The Day, before the boom began to bleed. "It's value-free growth."

Tiny people, most no doubt reduced to their stature by Carol Whitesides' Great Valley Center leadership training sessions in smart growth before it was absorbed by UC Merced.

Yet, down where the sun is more heavily filtered, state Sen. Dean Florez lurks, speaking something like a truth: it cannot go on, down here where Hollis Roberts began the California almond deal with an ante of 2,500 acres in the late Sixties. It simply can't go on, despite his own ambitions, he has been saying at considerable political price for several years. It cannot go one. Smog at this level is unsustainable. Period.

"Board members have fallen into the trap of believing in their own self-importance -- that somehow they are the experts when it comes to cleaning the air," he said after the meeting.

Up here, above the metropolis of Fresno where UC San Joaquin Valley belonged, we have Congressman McPendejo, who will not oppose Uc/Bechtel/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's plans to blow up eight times the radioactivity of former years and site a biodanger level-4 biowarfare lab on Site 300 outside Tracy, too. And we have Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Nancy Boy-Merced, a gutless Blue Dog without belief or integrity who doth protest absurdly while voting against termination of the School of the Americas, home of US military torture training.

The deciders are in the limelight, for all to see. And they look very bad, almost as if they believed all the rightwing cant and hypocrisy that got them there. So, all they have is the power of positions granted them by the public they abuse. Minute elements of the public struggle to speak truth to power appear and are flipped off by the great Invisible Middle Finger of the Market. The people of the Valley, never before inhibited by lack of academic education, have been silenced by the professoriate, and UC Merced cut their tongues out for agendas like establishing a biodanger level-4 biowarfare lab near Tracy and blowing up eight times the depleted uranium and other radioactive substances there in the coming year.

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. The wise remain silent and flakfools fill the airwaves with propaganda and the politicians betray and betray and betray, hoping thereby to erase any memory of the Valley as a place and a home for the benefit of finance, insurance and real estate special interests -- spasmatic greedjerks without place or home, wandering over others' places and homes.

Bill Hatch

Fresno Bee
Air board does it again...Editorial

The Valley air district's governing board voted 6-3 on Thursday to support the status quo, an action that's becoming a habit. The vote sets the district in opposition to legislation that would change the makeup of the board by adding four members -- two medical experts and two representatives of Valley cities. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District board's majority objects to "appointed" members, ignoring the fact that none of them were elected to the air board by voters. They were, in every case, appointed by the city councils and county boards of supervisors on which they serve. And not one of them ran for those offices on a platform centered on air quality issues. The majority also said they don't believe state-appointed medical experts would represent the interests of Valley residents. The board majority also seems to imply that health expertise isn't needed on a board whose sole task is to clean up dirty air that adds more than $3 billion to Valley health costs each year, costs hundreds of lives and many thousands of hours of illness and lost work, and cripples children and adults alike with respiratory ailments. It's clear that the board, whose 11 members include eight county supervisors from up and down the Valley, isn't interested in sharing power with more urban representatives. That leaves a majority of Valley residents without effective representation on a board that has great power to affect the quality of life in the Valley -- and to regulate economic behavior.

Valley regulators issue guidelines to get to clean air faster...Garance Burke, AP

Air managers in the San Joaquin Valley issued a list of voluntary guidelines Thursday aimed at cleaning up the valley's smog-laden air before 2023, the year the local air district will need to prove the polluted region meets federal air quality standards...unofficial measures issued Thursday - none of which are immediately enforceable - propose to explore new technology, green building tactics and incentives to replace polluting vehicles to curb ozone pollution before then. Environmental groups were disappointed that the bulk of the guidelines were voluntary, and weren't included in the official plan approved by the state last week. The district also voted Thursday to join Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in filing suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency if the agency did not act on California's long-standing petition to implement greenhouse gas reductions on automobiles. If the EPA doesn't act by Oct. 22 on California's request for the federal waiver needed to enact the state's tailpipe emissions law, the governor has said the state will sue.

Fresno Bee
Air board opposes expansion proposal...Mark Grossi

State Sen. Dean Florez clashed Thursday with local air board members who voted to oppose legislation that would add board seats for two medical experts and two representatives of Valley cities...governing members of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District voted 6-3 to oppose expanding the board... majority said they did not think state-appointed medical experts would represent Valley residents. The bill appears to be "a solution where there's no problem to be solved," said board member Michael G. Nelson,
a Merced County supervisor. Florez, D-Shafter, said he believes the board needs more diverse voices to advocate for health issues and understand the complexities of air quality. He told the board that their action was "knee-jerk, premature and immature." "Board members have fallen into the trap of believing in their own self-importance -- that somehow they are the experts when it comes to cleaning the air," he said after the meeting. Arvin City Council Member Raji Brar..."Why wouldn't anyone want a doctor on the board? This is all about health. That's the bottom line."

San Francisco Chronicle
Sacramento...Agency's 3 new rules on warming criticized...Mark Martin

State regulators approved the first new rules in California's landmark effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on Thursday, but environmentalists and some Democratic lawmakers complained that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's appointees were acting too meekly to combat global warming. The California Air Resources Board voted to implement three new rules requiring cleaner gasoline, less methane emissions from landfills, and a ban on the sale of refrigerants for air conditioners in cars...vote was the first action by a board that ultimately will make scores of decisions with profound potential effects on the California economy, as the state works to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 25 percent by 2020. But the board's moves Thursday were attacked by some, and three members, including the chairman, dissented in a 6-3 vote. "When the Senate confirmed members of the Air Resources Board, we asked for a commitment from them to take bold actions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Senate President Pro Tem Don
Perata, D-Oakland, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, today they flunked the test." Environmental groups and some Democrats argued the board should have done much more. A committee comprised of environmental justice advocates that is advising the air board had drawn up a list of more than 30 items... The board is considering many of those items but decided not to enact them quickly, generating complaints from many who are fighting climate change in California...

Modesto Bee
Judge denies request to reduce pumping in delta fish tussle...Garance Burke, AP

A federal judge denied environmental groups' request for a temporary order to cut back water supplies sent to farms and Southern California, but asked all sides to reconvene so experts can present evidence about whether pumps in the delta are killing off a threatened fish species. "There isn't anybody in the courtroom who wouldn't agree that the species is in a critical stage," said U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger. But, the judge said, the evidence does not show that "the last smelt in existence is at the pumps and their destruction will extinguish the species." Wanger denied that motion
Friday, but recommended that the groups arrange a hearing so he could hear more evidence from environmentalists, numerous federal and state agencies, and other stakeholders about the biological risks to the smelt.

Modesto Bee
Car seller battling state over air rules
California wants regs stricter than the feds'

A Modesto car dealership is ground zero for a challenge to California's effort to
regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.
Central Valley Chrysler Automotive and nine other dealerships want to stop implementation of regulations adopted by the California Air Resources Board more than two years ago.
The rules would raise fuel efficiency standards for new cars sold in the state, pushing them up to 40.6 mpg for cars and light trucks and up to 25.9 mpg for heavy-duty trucks by 2016.
Ten states are waiting to adopt California's regulations, and six more are considering them, but none can push forward unless California gets a waiver from the federal government.
Auto manufacturers say states have no business setting standards stricter than those set by the federal government, and dealerships in the San Joaquin Valley have signed on to help make their point.
"They could have cars that come into California and cars that couldn't come into California," said attorney Timothy Jones of Fresno, who represents the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
Manufacturers can sell any combination of vehicles as long as the average fuel economy of their fleet meets the overall standard.
Under federal rules, they must meet fleetwide standards of 27.5mpg for passenger cars and 23.1 mpg for heavy-duty trucks.
To meet California rules, manufacturers might have to limit the availability of
low-gas-mileage vehicles, build smaller cars or invest in technology that would raise sticker prices.
Valley car dealers would take the biggest hit, Jones said, because heavy-duty trucks used in agriculture-related industries make up a high proportion of their sales.
Sued state in 2001
So the Modesto dealership — which sued the air board in 2001, forcing the state to scrap a requirement that 10 percent of new autos be zero-emission vehicles — is the lead plaintiff..."Brand loyalty to Chrysler and Jeep vehicles will have reduced value if Central Valley Automotive cannot offer updated models of the vehicles that our customers know," Gardner told the court. "Our revenues will suffer as a result."Owners of other dealerships that are party to the lawsuit filed similar statements.
They include Leonard Harrington of Tom Fields Motors Inc. of Turlock, which sells Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Suburu; and Brian Wells of Courtesy Automotive Center in Merced, which sells Chevrolet and Cadillac..."They're suing to maintain a dinosaur fleet of huge, gas-guzzling vehicles that are destroying the environment," said David Jones, who drives a Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid that emits fewer greenhouse gases than traditional
Erin Rogers, California outreach coordinator for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said manufacturers fought seat belts and air bags too, then complied with new regulations without going bankrupt.
Her group recently unveiled plans for a minivan that could be built with existing technology and cut tailpipe pollutants by 40 percent, more than enough to meet California's proposed standards.
The minivan is not a gas-electric hybrid. It would cost $300 more than its peers, the scientists said, and consumers would save $1,300 in two years, by getting better gas mileage.
"Cars of all sizes and shapes in all classes can be made cleaner," Rogers said.
The state air board's rules come from Assembly Bill 1493, which was approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Davis in 2002.
Lawmakers told the air board to design rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.
The air board adopted regulations in September 2004, and the car dealers challenged them in federal court three months later.
The litigation has drawn nationwide attention, with five environmental groups intervening to argue in favor of California's emission standards.
Supporters of stricter standards say lawmakers must deal with auto emissions because they contribute to global warming, which has caused rising sea levels, decreased snowpack and spring runoff as well as more severe weather and wildfires.
In legal papers, the state attorney general's office argues that California can regulate greenhouse gas emissions under a waiver provision in the 1975 federal Clean Air Act.
That law carved out a loophole for California because the state had regulated air pollution long before the federal government got involved.
The loophole also lets other states adopt stricter rules, as long as California does so irst.
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington plan to implement California standards if California gets a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Now it gets more complicated.
The auto industry argues that only the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may set fuel standards.
And the federal EPA in 2003 said it cannot regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles under the Clean Air Act.
So Massachusetts challenged the federal government. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in November and a ruling is expected this summer.
All of this leads back to Modesto, because the lawsuit brought by Central Valley Chrysler Automotive and others is on hold until the high court makes a ruling in the Massachusetts case.
If the EPA wins, California would have little chance of getting a waiver and demanding more fuel-efficient cars, making the car dealers' lawsuit moot.
"If we lose, we need to turn to Congress," Rogers said.
If Massachusetts wins and California gets its waiver, the court battle in Fresno will continue.
"The dealers are very concerned," Timothy Jones said.

Bingham McCutchen
Supreme Court Decision Forces EPA to Reconsider Greenhouse Gas
April 1, 2007

In a 5-4 decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (No. 05-1120) (Apr. 2, 2007), the U.S. Supreme Court rejected EPA's position that it does not have authority under section 202 of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions from new motor vehicles. EPA can now avoid regulating these emissions only if it determines that GHGs "do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether
they do."

The Court's decision has implications for pending and potential regulation, litigation, and legislation. Among these implications are:
Regulation Under the Clean Air Act:
EPA must now reconsider regulation of GHG emissions from new motor vehicles under section 202 of the Clean Air Act. Although the opinion preserves EPA discretion to decide whether, and how, to regulate such emissions, the Court concluded that EPA had "offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gas emissions cause or contribute to climate change." The reasoning and the tone of the majority opinion
indicate that any EPA decision not to regulate GHG emissions from new motor vehicles would be viewed with a high degree of skepticism. Given the extensive use of the term "air pollutant" throughout the Clean Air Act, the Court's decision likely will require EPA to consider regulating GHG emissions from other mobile sources and may require EPA to consider regulating stationary sources of GHG emissions, as well.
Pending and Potential Litigation:
The Court's decision likely will be raised in several important pending cases involving GHG emissions including cases: (1) that involve other Clean Air Act provisions that use the term "air pollutant" (e.g., Coke Oven Envtl. Taskforce v. EPA, No. 06-1131 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 7, 2006) (alleging, inter alia, that EPA failed to regulate carbon dioxide from new coal-fired power plants)); (2) that challenge California limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new motor vehicles (e.g., Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep Inc. v. Witherspoon, No. CV-F-04-6663 (E.D. Cal.2006)); and (3) that allege that GHG emissions create a public nuisance (e.g., California v. General Motors, No. 3:06-cv-05755-MJJ (N.D. Cal. 2006)). Given the Court's holding that states have "special solicitude" in the
standing analysis, the Court's decision may also encourage future litigation by states, particularly in the environmental arena.
Federal Climate Change Legislation:
The Court's decision may prompt the U.S. Congress to act more quickly to pass national legislation addressing climate change. The Clean Air Act does not provide guidance on, and its provisions are not particularly well-suited for, addressing climate change through the regulation of GHG emissions. Therefore, Congress may seek to avoid the incremental regulation of GHG emissions under the existing Clean Air Act by passing comprehensive climate change legislation.
The Decision
In 1999, a group of environmental groups filed a rulemaking petition asking EPA to regulate GHG emissions from new motor vehicles under section 202 of the Clean Air Act.
Section 202(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act provides that EPA "shall by regulation prescribe … standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare." Nearly four years later, EPA denied the petition, finding that the Clean Air Act does not authorize EPA to issue mandatory regulations to address global climate change and that, even if EPA had the authority to set GHG emissions standards, it would be unwise to do so at this time.
Writing for the majority, Justice Stevens, joined by Justices Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, issued three major holdings:
The Court held that petitioners1 have standing to challenge EPA's denial of their rulemaking petition. The Court found that, as a state, Massachusetts is entitled to "special solicitude" in the standing analysis based on two factors. First, states are forced to surrender to the federal government certain sovereign prerogatives. In return, the federal government takes on responsibility for protecting the states. In this case, Congress ordered EPA via the Clean Air Act to protect Massachusetts and other states from the effects of air pollution. Second, Congress provided a procedural right under the Clean Air Act to challenge the rejection of a rulemaking petition as arbitrary and
capricious. Accordingly, the Court held that "[g]iven that procedural right and
Massachusetts' stake in protecting its quasi-sovereign interests, the Commonwealth is entitled to special solicitude in our standing analysis." The Court then found that petitioners' submissions, as they pertain to Massachusetts, satisfy the Article III requirements of a concrete and particularized injury that is either actual or imminent, causation, and redressability.
Statutory Authority:
The Court held that EPA has statutory authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate GHG emissions from new motor vehicles. In rejecting EPA's arguments on this point, the Court found: (1) that the Act's definition of "air pollutant" includes carbon dioxide and other GHGs; (2) that EPA did not identify actions suggesting that Congress meant to curtail EPA's power to treat GHGs as air pollutants; (3) that the Court's decision in Brown v. Williamson Tobacco Corp. (holding that tobacco products are not "drugs" or "devices" subject to Food and Drug Administration regulation, based on a "'common sense' intuition that Congress never meant to remove those products from circulation") was inapplicable; and (4) that EPA's responsibility to protect the public health and welfare is "wholly independent of [the Department of Transportation's] mandate to promote energy efficiency" through mileage standards.
EPA's Denial of Petition:
The Court held that EPA must ground its reasons for action or inaction in the Clean Air Act. In other words, EPA's refusal to decide whether GHGs cause or contribute to climate change was arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law. Although EPA had offered a "laundry list" of reasons not to regulate, it had not grounded those reasons in the statutory text.
Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia both filed strong dissenting opinions, which were joined by each other and Justices Thomas and Alito. On standing, Chief Justice Roberts found petitioners' challenges to be nonjusticiable. He rejected the majority's "special solicitude" for States and the finding that Massachusetts adequately demonstrated injury, causation, and redressability. On the merits, Justice Scalia argued that EPA could decline to make a judgment as to whether GHGs endanger public welfare for the reasons it had stated in its order rejecting the petition and that EPA's interpretation of the term "air pollutant" was consistent with the Clean Air Act...

California Pushes EPA On Emissions Laws
Top Officials Implore Agency To Permit State To Impose Reductions Of Greenhouse Gases On Auto Industry
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2007(CBS/AP)

Top California officials implored federal environmental regulators Tuesday for
permission to unilaterally impose reductions on greenhouse gases from cars and other vehicles. An auto industry official dismissed the state's approach as
If California gets the federal waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency that it needs to implement its emissions law, at least 11 other states are prepared to follow its lead.
"This is more important than any issue that EPA's going to have to face," California Attorney General Jerry Brown told an EPA air quality hearing board.
Brown asked the regulators to relay a message to EPA administrator Stephen Johnson.
"We want him to speak truth to power," said Brown. "There is a tremendous influence of the oil industry. We know (Vice President) Cheney and (President) Bush are oilmen, they think like oil folks. ... We say grant the waiver."
The EPA panel that gathered in suburban Arlington, Va., was led by Margo Oge, director of EPA's office of transportation and air quality. She gave no indication of how the agency might be leaning as a daylong hearing got under way.
At issue is a 2002 California law that requires automakers to cut emissions by 25 percent from cars and light trucks and 18 percent from sport utility vehicles starting with the 2009 model year. The law can't take effect unless California gets a federal waiver.
While air pollution standards typically are set by the federal government, California has a unique status under the federal Clean Air Act that allows the state to enact its own rules as long as it receives permission from the EPA. Other states can then choose to follow either the federal or California standards.
The EPA has declined to say how it will act on the waiver request, and Tuesday's hearing came after more than a year of inaction since the state submitted its petition in 2005.
The session included some two dozen witnesses from environmental groups and other states including Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maryland speaking in favor of California's law. A representative from the Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association was in favor of the law, as was the owner of a chain of car dealerships.
Adam Lee, president of a chain of Maine auto dealerships, said automakers have hurt their reputations by opposing other federal requirements in the past, such as smog controls and seat belts, reports the Detroit Free Press. Lee also pointed out that many companies give rebates on larger models such as the GMC Yukon.
“I think the auto industry needs to try a little harder, and I don’t think they will try any harder until enough states force them to,” Lee said.
A lone voice of opposition came from Steve Douglas of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. He contended that California had not proven that its rules would actually reduce global warming, and that a national approach would be better.
"A patchwork of state-level fuel economy regulations as is now proposed by California is not simply unnecessary, it's patently counterproductive," Douglas said. The state's waiver request "contains many assumptions and undocumented claims" about its benefits in countering global warming, he said.
Automakers also contend that California officials underestimated the costs of its proposal, the Free Press reports.
The auto industry has sued California and Vermont in an attempt to block the regulation, arguing that emissions standards are de-facto fuel economy standards — which can only be set by the federal government.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month said the state will sue if the EPA does not act on the state's request by October 25.
"We're preparing a lawsuit but we certainly don't want to bring it," Brown told the panel Tuesday.
The auto regulations are a key part of California's overall strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists blame for the Earth's warming temperature over the last three decades. The state is the world's 12th-largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, 40 percent of which come from transportation sources.
The state last year embarked on a statewide effort to reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020. A 2006 law relies on the auto regulations to accomplish 17 percent of the overall target.
President Bush last week signed an executive order giving federal agencies until the end of 2008 to continue studying the threat of greenhouse gas emissions and what to do about them. Critics fear the directive could undermine state efforts.
In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post on Monday, Schwarzenegger and Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Mr. Bush's directive "sounds like more of the same inaction and denial."

Article:San Joaquin air cleaner, and becoming more
Article:San Joaquin air cleaner, and becoming more

Air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is better than it has ever been in recorded
history. With tough regulations, innovative measures and investment by businesses and residents, air pollution has been reduced significantly throughout the valley. Despite this tremendous progress, the valley's pollution-retaining geography and meteorology make meeting new federal ozone and particulate standards a challenge that is unmatched by any other region in the nation.
Having already reduced valley smog by 80 percent since the 1980s, virtually eliminating the remaining 20 percent will not be cheap and cannot happen overnight. On April 30, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's governing board adopted the first eight-hour ozone plan in California. This overarching and comprehensive plan is designed to help the valley attain cleaner air, as measured by the federal smog standard, as expeditiously as practicable. The regulatory cost to businesses will be about $20 billion. The governing board members should be commended for their courage, resoluteness and commitment to clean air. Instead, The Chronicle condemns them.
For many of us in the valley, The Chronicle's May 2 editorial ("A smog board that likes smog") is as unfair and as frustrating as the air pollution from the Bay Area that is responsible for 7 percent to 28 percent of the valley's smog problem, with the most impact being in the northern valley.
In fact, given that California's air quality agency has designated the Bay Area as an "overwhelming" contributor to the valley's ozone problem, it would have been fair and balanced for The Chronicle to ask Bay Area residents and policymakers to do what they can to minimize or mitigate pollution that ends up in the valley. Additionally, more than 80 percent of our smog-causing pollutants come from mobile sources (cars, trucks and locomotives), over which local air districts in California have no jurisdiction.
Nonetheless, here are the facts.
A child born today in the San Joaquin Valley breathes air that is 80 percent cleaner than it was 25 years ago and is no longer exposed to unhealthful levels of particulates 10 microns in size and smaller. The San Joaquin Valley is the only "serious" noncompliant area in the state to meet the standard for scrubbing from the air particulates of this size, and we did it five years ahead of the federal deadline. The valley also is on track to meet the one-hour ozone standard by 2010, the only "extreme nonattainment" area in the state on track to do so. Meeting this health-based standard will further diminish the
proven respiratory and health-related ailments associated with excessive ozone concentrations.
The district's recently adopted plan to meet the new federal health-based ozone-standard is the first of its kind in the nation. Under the plan, 50 percent of the valley's population will live in "attainment" areas, that is, areas without any recorded violations of the air-pollution standard, by 2015; that number will increase to 90 percent by 2020. By law, the valley cannot claim attainment because in a couple of areas we will still see a few days when the air pollution exceeds the standard.
Undisputed analysis by experts shows, even if money were no object and we ignored all logistical constraints, that the technology available today and in the foreseeable future could not achieve enough reductions in smog-forming emissions for these areas in the valley to attain the clean-air standard any sooner than 2023. In this situation, the only option provided under federal law is to seek an "extreme" designation and incorporate future technology when it becomes available -- thus, the proposed deadline of 2023. All local measures that can be adopted by the air district will be in place by 2010. As a result, every area in the valley will see significant, steady reductions in ozone
concentrations and the number of days with poor air quality.
The measures contained in the ozone plan also will help the valley meet the federal standard for fine particulates standard by 2015. (Fine particulates are those 2.5 microns in size or smaller.) This makes the valley the only non-compliant area in the state on track to meet this standard by the deadline. Doing so will eliminate more than $3 billion per year of the estimated $3.1 billion per year in health-related costs attributed to particulates in the valley's air.
With public health as the foremost priority, the air district governing board also acted to seek other innovative and creative strategies aimed at cleaning the air. These measures, which focus on alternative modes of goods- and people-movement, as well as alternative fuels and energy, will require broad support from the general public, as well as business and government.
By any objective measure, the plan adopted by the air district is a comprehensive effort that leaves no stone unturned to bring the valley into attainment with federal air quality standards as quickly as possible. Those who champion clean air should refrain from petty attacks and join us on this challenging but fulfilling journey to cleaner air in the valley.

A smog board that likes smog
Wednesday, May 2, 2007

SOME PEOPLE don't get it. While California works to clean both factory and vehicle emissions, the local smog board overseeing the state's dirtiest air has bailed in the fight.
The stakes couldn't be clearer. The vast San Joaquin Valley may be famous for lush crops and verdant fields, but it's also notorious for polluted air and the go-easy controls that permit such conditions. Bakersfield and Visalia are, once again, on the top-10 roster of dirty-air cities in a Lung Association study released this week.
The causes are many: the bathtub geography that cups in pollution between mountain ranges, car-centric development and industries that include oil, trucking, farm equipment long exempt from tailpipe controls, and even dairies with thousands of methane-producing cows.
For years, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District dodged stricter emission rules, nodding along with industry arguments that tougher rules were costly and impractical. In 2003, Sacramento reined in the problem partly by taking away agriculture's exemption from smog rules.
But after a lengthy meeting on Monday, the valley smog board, dominated by
business-oriented country supervisors, showed it still isn't listening. It voted to
postpone a federal clean-air deadline.
Even by its own lowly standards, the board's action is a stunner. It wants to stall lower pollution limits from 2013 to 2024, a full 17 years from now.
Record asthma rates? Eye-burning smog? A job-killing reputation for dirty air,
grit-covered car hoods and stay-indoors school days? The board ignores these dismal distinctions -- and its public duty.
The smog board is ducking its job because it isn't likely to be penalized. The statewide air board generally defers to regional panels. Federal regulators, who can withhold highway funds, aren't likely to bring down the hammer. The valley panel is betting it can get away with doing nothing.
But it could have taken steps to chip away at the problem. The state air board is due next month to announce a statewide clean-air plan, complete with suggested steps and technologies to tap. Instead of waiting for guidance, the Fresno-based board voted for its forever-and-a-day delay plan.
Also, clean-air bond money, recently passed by voters, could be tapped to replace older buses and trucks with less polluting new models. Fees on trucks serving the valley's booming warehouses and office parks could also be used to replace older, smog-spewing engines.
What will it take to correct the panel's continual cave-ins to the dirty-air lobby? Two valley state senators -- Dean Florez, D-Shafter, and Mike Machado, D-Linden -- want to remake the smog panel, adding extra seats for small cities, where elected leaders are closer to the problem, and slots for health experts. A similar plan was shot down last year in the Legislature. The measure, SB719, is also a chance for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to continue his push for clean air in a local setting.
For too long, the valley has allowed big interests and tame politicians to set the
pollution rules. It's time for a change in leadership and direction.

| »

Cardoza denies being Nancy Boy

Submitted: Jun 22, 2007

Modesto Bee
Rules Committee position gives Blue Dog's bark more bite...Dennis Cardoza, 18th Congressional District, which includes part of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties and all of Merced County

I am writing to set the record straight about my role on the House Rules Committee in response to "Cardoza walking fine line in House" (June 18, Page A-1). The overall tone of the piece suggested that I agree with Democratic leadership 100 percent of the time. While I am proud to be a Democrat, I don't agree with anyone 100 percent of the time and I will continue to put the interests of my district before party politics. My seat at the leadership table has enhanced the position of moderates and conservatives in the Democratic caucus, not undermined them. My moderate and independent views have not changed. The most important work on the Rules Committee happens behind the scenes... I act to rein in elements of the agenda that are objectionable to conservative Democrats, many of them Blue Dogs. Since every piece of legislation comes through the Rules Committee... I have a direct line to tell House leadership... This direct access and role is something that Blue Dogs never enjoyed before I joined the Rules Committee. This is not to say that leadership adopts every change I ask for, but when they hear me bark, they know there are problems that need to be addressed before the legislation arrives on the House floor. Therefore, I am often able to prevent bad legislation that would hurt districts like mine from ever making it to a vote. More importantly, my position on the Rules Committee is crucial for my district because I have increased leverage to propose and induce votes on amendments that I know are priorities back home...I help decide what amendments are adopted and look for opportunities to address problems in the valley. ...Be assured, however, that my beliefs remain the same and serving in this capacity provides greater strength to moderates in the House and affords me many additional opportunities to address the needs of my district.

Fresno Bee
Cardoza's ties divide voters. Democratic congressman often walks a fine line with conservative district....Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau

Dennis Cardoza wanted a seat at the table, and he got it...the third-term Democratic congressman from Merced is a Capitol insider, setting the rules for House debate. But in a political twist, the very position that grants Cardoza clout could also estrange some San Joaquin Valley voters. A moderate, Cardoza is nonetheless a lieutenant to liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has her ear. She, in turn, often has his vote. The result is a fine line to walk for a congressman representing an often-conservative district. "In exchange for having a seat at the table," Cardoza said, "you agree that at the end of the day, you're all going to be on the same page." Cardoza and other members of the House Rules Committee decide how legislation is debated and what amendments can be offered...the 13-member panel shapes every bill considered by the House of Representatives. Rules Committee members have extra leverage with their colleagues, because they have their hands on every bill. Cardoza said the position gives him an opportunity to offer more amendments of his own. On the House floor, Cardoza and other Blue Dogs are generally the Democrats most likely to dissent from the party. But in the confines of the House Rules Committee, which meets on the third floor of the Capitol, Cardoza's voting is uniformly Democratic. Behind the scenes, moreover, Cardoza said the story is even more complex. "If you're on the Rules Committee, you vote with your party," Cardoza said. "That does not mean I'm a lackey for Nancy Pelosi." Cardoza likened his role to a "canary in a coal mine." In essence, he is a designated liaison to the Democrats' moderate wing. He lets House leaders know what might cause trouble for centrists. In turn, he gives the 47-member Blue Dog caucus an early heads-up on bills.

The Nation
No Confidence in a Congress that Bends to Bush
by John Nichols

Confidence in Congress has hit an all-time low. A mere 14 percent of Americans tell Gallup pollsters that they have a great deal or quite a lot of faith in the US House and Senate.Since Gallup began using the current measure of confidence in Congress in 1973, the worst rating had been the 18 percent figure accorded it in the early years of the 1990s, when the House was being rocked by scandals that would eventually see a number of top Democratic lawmakers rejected in their own party primaries and the “Republican revolution” vote of 1994.
To give a sense of just how bad things are for Congress, consider this notion: Americans express more confidence in corporate HMOs–the most despised manifestation of a health-care industry that lends itself to all of the scorn heaped upon it by Michael Moore’s new film Sicko — than in their elected representatives at the federal level.
It is true that confidence in Congress had been sinking in recent years, in large part because of frustration by the American people with the acquiescence by the formerly Republican-controlled House and Senate to the neo-conservative foreign policies of the Bush administration and to the Wall Street-driven domestic policies.
But the shift in control of both chambers after last November elections was supposed to change that.
No one expected Democrats to fix everything that was wrong with the United States, let alone the world.
But there was an expectation of progress–especially on the central issue of the moment: ending the war in Iraq.
That expectation, a basic and legitimate one in a functioning democracy, has not been met. And it has created a sense of frustration, and in many cases anger, on the part of Americans who really did want the Democrats to succeed–not in gaining partisan advantage but in the far more essential work of checking and balancing the Bush administration. Some leading voices of opposition, including anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, have simply given up on the Democratic Party. And no one should underestimate that, even if Sheehan says she no longer wants to be the face of the anti-war movement, Sheehan’s denunciation of the Democrats for failing to seriously challenge Bush’s management of the war is an honest and clear expression of the sense of betrayal that a great many Americans who voted Democratic in 2006 are now feeling.
That’s the bad news for Democrats.
The good news is that they still have time to change course...

| »

Andale pues, McPendejo

Submitted: Jun 21, 2007
...McNerney's bill would authorize $90 million a year between 2008 and 2012 to support geothermal research at two centers, one in the West and the other in the East.

"There's definitely a chance that one of the plants would be located in Northern California," McNerney said. "It's important that the rocks are suitable for this. They must have fissures and cracks so you can circulate water through them."

Jeff Tester, a professor of chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, agrees. "There's a high probability for a research center in Northern California" he said. "One reason is that the demand for the energy that is created is relatively close by." -- SF Chronicle, June 19, 2007

Rep. Jerry "I'm Not Pombo" McNerney, Lambkin-Pleasanton, also got into the San Joaquin County press this week with an article about how his office helped a woman get a passport.

Meanwhile, the candidate that could bury the Lamb, Dean Andal, has recruited a Republican Hispanic group that refers to McNerney as McNada ("McNothing," to be exact in the press.) This attack excited one Anglo pro-McNerney blogger to refer to the group as part of a GOP anti-McNerney "cattle drive," followed by references to Pombo as "el vaquero." Nothing yet could more accurately confirm the impression among the 55 percent of McNerney's district in San Joaquin County that Jerry the Lamb is nothing but a gabacho with no manners. The blogger may have hit exactly on the only political tone guaranteed to unite San Joaquin County voters of all parties against McNerney.

A Democratic Party landslide in 2008 could produce more than 420 Democrats in the House, a handful of Independents, and Andal from the 11th CD of California. Today, this race is Andal's to lose.

The Lamb is facing two challenges. First, he has to get reelected or else all the people who worked against Pombo will be dejected. Secondly, he has to appear in some sense to protect his district from absolute menace. The UC/Bechtel/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, moving along in its decorous academic/corporate way at Site 300 outside Tracy, plans to blow up eight times more radioactivity on the site and establish a biodanger level 4 biowarfare lab there.

The Lamb is silent on thes subjects.

McNerney is revealing himself as a person far more at home with technocrats of weapons of mass destruction than he is with the people of his district or humanity for that matter -- which, in some communities, would mean he might be called "McPendejo."

The geothermal idea is visionary. However, Stockton just hired Pombo as its water lobbyist. The majority of McNerney's district are asking: Whose water are you committing to be pumped 30,000 feet into the earth to produce steam power for whose electricity?

Bill Hatch

San Francisco Chronicle
System using heat from ground to create electricity to be studied
Ralph Hermansson, Chronicle Staff Writer

With oil and natural gas prices soaring, the world seems to be searching for the next great source of energy. And while most people are looking to the heavens -- tapping solar and wind resources -- the answer may lie in the ground beneath our feet.

This subterranean source is known as geothermal energy and it's already being used to heat homes. Now, some lawmakers are pushing for an increase in research and development into the technology.

U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is sponsoring a bill that would support the development of this source of power that some people believe can eventually supply electricity to 75 million homes. And if McNerney succeeds, one of the research and development centers created to nurture geothermal energy might be located in Northern California.

The bill, the Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007, unanimously passed the House Committee on Science and Technology last week. Its aim is to develop enhanced geothermal energy, using the heat from the ground to create electricity.

Here's how it works: Using a closed system, cool water is pumped into hot, fractured rock reservoirs deep beneath the ground where the water is heated. The steam is pumped back to the surface to a turbine that is attached to a generator and produces electricity.

Some people already use a scaled-down version of this technique to heat their houses, but McNerney's proposal would create geothermal power on a much bigger scale. Instead of tapping heat out of a 200-foot hole in the ground, which is the way it is done for single-home heating systems, geothermal power plants would have holes more than 30,000 feet deep, using underground man-made reservoirs to house the water.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates that such a system could provide more than 100 gigawatts of energy over the next 50 years, supporting 25 million of homes with power.

But that's still a way off. McNerney's bill would authorize $90 million a year between 2008 and 2012 to support geothermal research at two centers, one in the West and the other in the East.

"There's definitely a chance that one of the plants would be located in Northern California," McNerney said. "It's important that the rocks are suitable for this. They must have fissures and cracks so you can circulate water through them."

Jeff Tester, a professor of chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, agrees. "There's a high probability for a research center in Northern California" he said. "One reason is that the demand for the energy that is created is relatively close by."

Tester said that, unlike other environmentally friendly sources, geothermal energy does not depend on wind or sunshine. This system can provide an uninterrupted supply of electricity, day or night.

"This is definitely one of the arsenal of tools that will be needed in the future. I think we will need both solar, wind and geothermal energy," Tester said.

The bill has so far had bipartisan support and not caused any controversy. Most politicians seem to agree that alternative energy systems that can help reduce greenhouse gases are worth supporting.

That's why McNerney is optimistic about the future of the bill.

"It may be wrapped up in a bill with other energy-related questions, but I think it could be signed by the president before the end of this year," he said.

Karen Wayland, legislative director at the National Resources Defense Council, said McNerney's estimate is optimistic. "But I think the bill has pretty good chances," she said. "It will probably be part of the energy package that Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi will bring to the floor in July."

Her group supports the increased use of geothermal energy.

"Our only concern is that it doesn't alter the geography of places like Yellowstone (National Park)," she said. "Proper protection and adequate safeguards are always needed."

| »

Denny the Mechanic speaks

Submitted: Jun 20, 2007

"It's tough to get any particular issue dealt with in a very rapid fashion short of declaring war on somebody," Cardoza told CBS 5 on May 31st. "We don't move that fast in Congress." -- CBS5.com, June 19, 2007

Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, entered public life during a period of extreme political corruption in America. Furthermore, as demonstrated by his district's top position in the rate of mortgage foreclosures in the nation, he has seen major pressure applied locally by finance, insurance and real estate special interests with splendid results for us all. His first job, for these same special interests, in the state Assembly was to get UC Merced through its regulatory hurdles. He succeeded to the extent that UC built a portion of its campus without getting through its regulatory hurdles and the state paid millions of dollars for mitigation easements that are essentially largely as mitigation. He led the successful drive to bring the Williamson Act to Merced County, "as mitigation for UC Merced," something the Act was neither written to do or in any legal way could do. However, it was a boon for developers holding large tracts of farm and ranchland. In Congress, as the rear end of the Pomboza (together with former Rep. Richard Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy), Cardoza authored and co-authored three bills to gut sections of the Endangered Species Act that were obstacles to the special interests of finance, insurance and real estate in his and Pombo's districts.

Upon Pombo's defeat and the Democratic Party takeover of Congress, it has been reported that the new chairman of the renamed House Natural Resources Committee, known when Pombo was chairman as the Resources Committee, demanded Cardoza's removal from the committee. He was given a subcommittee chairmanship on the House Agriculture Committee during a new Farm Bill year.

It is legitimate and frequently the case that professional campaign politicians don't understand issues. They are nuts and bolts mechanics of politics and are not expected to understand issues except in terms of immediate advantage or disadvantage in campaigns. It is not legitimate although also frequently the case the elected officials don't understand issues either. Since his days in the state Assembly, Cardoza has been regaling reporters with the inside skinny on the mechanics of legislation. This pablum is duly published and his constituents are none the wiser about where he stands on the issues.

We have found Cardoza to be of average intelligence although of unusual ambition. As outlined above, we have also found him to be as corrupt as his district, politically economically speaking a national disgrace. Putting the average intelligence together with the corrupt background, we conclude that Cardoza is neither intellectually equipped or morally inclined to understand an issue.

In the case of the section in the Farm Bill that would terminate local and state government efforts to defend their borders against genetic pollution from genetically modified organisms, we have no doubt that the University of California, the nation's top academic plunger into biotechnology, has told Denny the Mechanic that it favors this bill as it is.

In Cardoza's mind, probably it would be tantamount to a declaration of war actually to do the homework to take a responsible position on GMO crops. Although "troubled" (suitably modified by adverbs chosen by his current flak), Cardoza votes to send young Americans to kill and be killed in Iraq.

"We don't move that fast in Congress,"

says Denny the Mechanic.

In the first place, Congress doesn't declare war anymore. In the second place, the US will have lost two wars in Western Asia and killed over a million people before it speaks criticism of a lobby as rich as the biotechnology industry.

Cardoza is wrong on this section of the Farm Bill. He was wrong on the ESA in three bills. He was wrong pushing so hard for a UC campus whose only tangible academic asset is its memorandum of understanding with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of weapons of mass destruction. He was wrong on UC-induced development that has created the present financial, insurance and real estate whirlpool in his district.

Badlands editorial staff

Congress may end ban on genetically modified crops...John Lobertini...6-19-07

(CBS 5) SACRAMENTO Congress is now considering a bill that would eliminate bans on genetically modified crops. Four California counties have such bans in place. It used to be organic farmers only worried about pesticides and chemicals. But now they argue that genetically engineered crops threaten the purity of fruits and vegetables and the products they make. In California, Marin, Mendocino, Santa Cruz and Trinity counties have already taken a stand and have passed their own bans. The conflict is between those who think it's okay to genetically alter plants and animals and those who don't. The ban was slipped into the farm bill late in the process. Central Valley Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) is concerned it won't receive the proper debate. "It's tough to get any particular issue dealt with in a very rapid fashion short of declaring war on somebody," Cardoza told CBS 5 on May 31st. "We don't move that fast in Congress."

GM WATCH daily list

Farm Bill Could Cripple State Food Safety Agencies, Preempt Laws on GE Crops‎
From: owner-GE_NEWS@eco-farm.org
Sent: Wed 6/20/07 9:41 PM
To: GE_NEWS@eco-farm.org
1.TAKE ACTION: Farm Bill Could Cripple State Food Safety Agencies, Preempt Laws on GE Crops
2.Groups say bill voids local bans on altered food
3.Michael Pollan on the potentially corosive power of the farm bill

EXTRACT: The smorgasbord of incentives and disincentives built into the farm bill helps decide what happens on nearly half of the private land in America... The health of the American soil, the purity of its water, the biodiversity and the very look of its landscape owe in no small part to impenetrable titles, programs and formulae buried deep in the farm bill. (item 3)
1.Farm Bill Could Cripple State Food Safety Agencies, Preempt Laws on GE Crops

House Agriculture Committee to Consider Language in the Farm Bill that Would Deny State's Rights to Protect Citizens from Risky Foods

Please take action by June 25, 2007. Thank you.

Dear Food Safety Friends,

I thought you might be interested in this Center for Food Safety e-activism campaign. The House Agriculture Committee is currently considering language in the House version of the 2007 Farm Bill that would pre-empt state's rights to protect its citizens from experimental GE crops and foods, and could eliminate a state's authority to take action in cases of food contamination.

It only takes a minute, please send an email today! This language will be considered by the House Agriculture Committee as early as June 26th.

2.Groups say bill voids local bans on altered food
By Steve Johnson
Mercury News, 20 June 2007

A coalition of 40 consumer, environmental and other groups Tuesday petitioned Congress to delete a provision in a proposed farm bill that they claim would nullify California and other state laws governing food safety and genetically engineered crops.

At issue is a section in the bill before the House Agriculture Committee that "prevents a state or locality from prohibiting an article the secretary of agriculture has inspected and passed."

The advocacy groups - including Consumers Union, Sierra Club, Center for Food Safety and Californians for GE-Free Agriculture - said the provision was quietly slipped into the bill a few weeks ago. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to consider the bill shortly after the July 4 holiday.

If the measure passes, the groups argued, it could render ineffective county laws dealing with biologically manipulated crops once the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reviewed and OK'd the crops.

The groups also claimed the measure could bar county health inspectors from condemning contaminated or otherwise substandard supermarket meat if the USDA had approved the product. But an aide to the House Agriculture Committee said that was not the provision's intent, adding that the bill probably would be amended to make it clear that local inspectors could reject bad food.

In California, four of the state's 58 counties - Santa Cruz, Marin, Mendocino and Trinity - have approved bans or other restrictions on genetically ngineered crops. At least 16 other counties have rejected such measures or passed resolutions supporting such crops.

Contact Steve Johnson at sjohnson@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5043.
3.The Way We Live Now
You Are What You Grow
The New York Times, April 22 2007


. . To speak of the farm bill's influence on the American food system does not begin to describe its full impact - on theenvironment, on global poverty, even on immigration. By making it possible for American farmers to sell their crops abroad for considerably less than it costs to grow them, the farm bill helps determine the price of corn in Mexico and the price of cotton in Nigeria and therefore whether farmers in those places will survive or be forced off the land, to migrate to the cities - or to the United States. The flow of immigrants north from Mexico since Nafta is inextricably linked to the flow of American corn in the opposite direction, a flood of subsidized grain that the Mexican government estimates has thrown two million Mexican farmers and other agricultural workers off the land since the mid-90s. (More recently, the ethanol boom has led to a spike in corn prices that has left that country reeling from soaring tortilla prices; linking its corn economy to ours has been an unalloyed disaster for Mexico's eaters as well as its farmers.) You can't fully comprehend the pressures driving immigration without comprehending what U.S. agricultural policy is doing to rural agriculture in Mexico.

And though we don't ordinarily think of the farm bill in these terms, few pieces of legislation have as profound an impact on the American landscape and environment. Americans may tell themselves they don't have a national land-use policy, that the market by and large decides what happens on private property in America, but that's not exactly true. The smorgasbord of incentives and disincentives built into the farm bill helps decide what happens on nearly half of the private land in America: whether it will be farmed or left wild, whether it will be managed to maximize productivity (and therefore doused with chemicals) or to promote environmental stewardship. The health of the American soil, the purity of its water, the biodiversity and the very look of its landscape owe in no small part to impenetrable titles, programs and formulae buried deep in the farm bill.

| »

Slightly troubling

Submitted: Jun 18, 2007

The United States has 3,066 counties, represented by the National Association of Counties. Its 50 states have 50 governors, represented by the National Governors Association.

The proposed Farm Bill presently includes a section that would prevent counties or states from passing laws banning or restricting genetically modified organisms within their borders. The section was shoe-horned into the bill during hearings in the House Agricultural Committee Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, Leonard L. Boswell, (D-IA) Chairman. California representatives Dennis Cardoza, Jim Costa and Joe Baca sit on this committee. It is claimed that nobody knows how this section got into the bill. Cardoza expressed himself as "slightly troubled by this language ..."

Section 123 of the Farm Bill treads on the authorities of state and local government. When a similar bill was introduced in the California Legislature in the last session, an unusual coalition of environmental groups and California counties developed, which defeated it. The Pomboza (Cardoza and former Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy) were busy trying to gut the Endangered Species Act at the time, and were no doubt "closely monitoring" the clout of their opponents, which would have included opponents to the state bill against local anti-GMO ordinances authored by state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization perhaps sees this section as the last, best chance to destroy its enemy, the anti-GMO groups that constantly proliferate as the real science comes in on the bogus claims for "Frankenfoods" and market resistance for GMO agricultural exports. But it is worth asking states' attorney generals and county counsels throughout the nation if this section doesn't raise a Constitutional issue. The career of Section 123 of the 2007 Farm Bill will tell us a little more about what kind of democratic republic we have left.

Bill Hatch

Stockton Record
Farm Bill may ease modified crop ban...Hank Shaw

"Frankenfoods"...Section 123 of the federal bill bars state or local governments from banning anything the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already approved. It sounds benign, but the proposal would sweep away existing bans on genetically modified crops in four California counties and block bans proposed in at least 16 other states. The proposed measure has sparked uproar among the sustainable agriculture community, especially among organic farmers, and the office of House Agriculture Committee member Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, has received more than 3,000 e-mails protesting the provision. Cardoza leads the committee's panel on organic agriculture and says he, too, has concerns about Section 123. "I am slightly troubled by this language, with respect to the fact that it was put in, ... towards the end of the legislative process, without proper debate and consideration," Cardoza said. "I will be monitoring this section closely as the Farm Bill process continues to determine how it might affect laws already on the books in California." It is unclear who inserted Section 123 into the federal legislation, but staffers working on the bill say they do not expect it to survive intact. To read the section of the Farm Bill under debate, go to: agriculture.house.gov/inside/Legislation/110/LDP_Secbysec.pdf.

| »

Dude, Denny's got his cliches down!

Submitted: Jun 17, 2007

"In exchange for having a seat at the table, you agree that at the end of the day, you're all going to be on the same page..."That does not mean I'm a lackey for Nancy Pelosi." --Rep. Dennis "I'm No Nancy Boy" Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced.

It would be funny if this was a script for a baseball comedy film called "Bull Durham." Unfortunately, this guy is our US congressman during the most corrupt moment of political history since the McKinley administration. But Madame McClatchy's dutiful stenographer, Mike Doyle, takes it all down, word for meaningless word.

The Shrimp Slayer (Not A Nancy Boy) is babbling about as coherently today as he was two years ago, when he emerged from a developer luncheon hosted by Fritz Grupe and splitting $50,000 with former Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, the man he called "Mr. Chairman." These two crooks went back to Washington to write a bill to kill the Endangered Species Act -- earning the dual sobriquet, the Pomboza, from local farmers who sensed that whatever Pombo and Cardoza were up to, it did not bode well for the future of agriculture in the north San Joaquin Valley.

We don't have to ask Cardoza where he sits on San Joaquin Valley air quality or species crashes in the Delta or on the newly proposed peripheral canal. At the end of the day, he'll be sitting at the table on the same page with finance, insurance and real estate special interests, which does not bode well for the health and safety of humanity or any other species caught in those plans on that page at that table at the end of that day.

We don't mind crooks in the 18th congressional district of the great state of California. Nobody of any integrity could get the money to get elected to represent this district. We know that. But still, within the squalid limits of character permitted an elected official in this region, we still have our standards, however debased they have become by our dismal political experience. And a stone hypocrite, hiding behind the emptiest cliches in the business, is beyond the pale of even our deformed political taste.

Cardoza, our highest elected official, keeps a district office on the third floor of the Merced County Administration Building. It is evident among the elected officials that decide local land-use planning in the county and its cities, that these cliches are running downhill. This has resulted in a local government culture that is no more than one large hypocritical cliche to hide the fact it has become a financial vortex.

To make matters worse, members of the public intent on conflict-free dialogue continue to meet with the local decision-makers within the context of this large hypocritical cliche, adding to it as they invent grand fables about their political efficacy. Meanwhile, the 18th CD leads the nation in mortgage foreclosures and Valley air quality achieves its own unique designation -- worst of the worst.

When political language ceases to have any meaning at all, politicians are hiding something dangerous. These are times when government regards the public as its top enemy.

Badlands editorial staff

Fresno Bee
Cardoza's ties divide voters. Democratic congressman often walks a fine line with conservative district....Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau

Dennis Cardoza wanted a seat at the table, and he got it...the third-term Democratic congressman from Merced is a Capitol insider, setting the rules for House debate. But in a political twist, the very position that grants Cardoza clout could also estrange some San Joaquin Valley voters. A moderate, Cardoza is nonetheless a lieutenant to liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has her ear. She, in turn, often has his vote. The result is a fine line to walk for a congressman representing an often-conservative district. "In exchange for having a seat at the table," Cardoza said, "you agree that at the end of the day, you're all going to be on the same page." Cardoza and other members of the House Rules Committee decide how legislation is debated and what amendments can be offered...the 13-member panel shapes every bill considered by the House of Representatives. Rules Committee members have extra leverage with their colleagues, because they have their hands on every bill. Cardoza said the position gives him an opportunity to offer more amendments of his own. On the House floor, Cardoza and other Blue Dogs are generally the Democrats most likely to dissent from the party. But in the confines of the House Rules Committee, which meets on the third floor of the Capitol, Cardoza's voting is uniformly Democratic. Behind the scenes, moreover, Cardoza said the story is even more complex. "If you're on the Rules Committee, you vote with your party," Cardoza said. "That does not mean I'm a lackey for Nancy Pelosi." Cardoza likened his role to a "canary in a coal mine." In essence, he is a designated liaison to the Democrats' moderate wing. He lets House leaders know what might cause trouble for centrists. In turn, he gives the 47-member Blue Dog caucus an early heads-up on bills.

"Bull Durham" (1988)

Crash Davis: It's time to work on your interviews.
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: My interviews? What do I gotta do?
Crash Davis: You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: "We gotta play it one day at a time."
Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: Got to play... it's pretty boring.
Crash Davis: 'Course it's boring, that's the point. Write it down.

| »

The silence of the Lamb

Submitted: Jun 15, 2007

It will happen this way, now that the news cycle is over. One day, probably on a weekend this month, the Department of Homeland Security will announce that the UC/Bechtel/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory proposal to place a biodanger level-4 lab near Tracy at Site 300, an LLNL bombing range already laced with depleted uranium and tritium, will make the short list for biowarfare pork. LLNL also recently announced that it will be releasing eight times as much radioactivity in bomb tests this year on Site 300.

But never you mind, public, it’s all perfectly safe under UC and Bechtel management, just like security is perfect at Los Alamos National Laboratory, managed by the same win-win, public-private partnership.

Meanwhile, the congressman for the district, Jerry “The Lamb” McNerney, has been on about a veterans hospital out of his district in Livermore, signing a pledge to make his earmarks public information, and opining that lobbyists shouldn’t be on PACs contributing money, at least to Himself, the Lamb. His ardent supporters out in the blogosphere have been defending him for these radically moral stands, because the Lamb is not Pombo. One assumes he did not do his graduate work in the higher mathematics of political money. Failing to provide any leadership in opposition of the biowarfare lab, which might have energized his core supporters in the 11th CD, the Lamb has probably been terribly impressed by those fine academic minds at the LLNL, just his sort of people, unlike the people in the district he represents.

And, of course, the biowarfare lab security will be perfect and there is no problem, whatsoever, about studying diseases lethal to poultry and cattle upwind from the greatest concentration of poultry and cattle in California. None, whatsoever. The biodanger level-4 designation is for the most deadly pathogens known on the planet. But these will be no problem for the citizens living near the biowarfare lab. None, whatsoever, because the security in these labs is perfect, which was explained so articulately in Michael Carroll’s Lab 257, about Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory.

Nevertheless, Marylia Kelley, executive director of Livermore-based Tri-Valley Citizens Against a Radioactive Environment, reminded us today that occasionally security breaches occur, even at LLNL, where the new generation of nuclear warheads is being designed. In recent years, employees have lost keys to secure areas and have not informed top management sometimes for months, during which access to these high security areas could have been compromised. The Lab left open a four-lane gate for a weekend. The Department of Energy Inspector General recently reported that a significant number of LLNL former employees still have their security badges and their names still appear on rosters, “which is a huge security risk,” Kelley said.

“The Livermore lab has a history of major security breaches,” she added.

The Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly said that it would take into account local opposition to the biowarfare lab. In Kelley’s view, there is no support for the biowarfare lab or the increase in radioactive explosives at Site 300 among the citizens of Tracy or nearby areas.

“Even where the lab has gotten official organizations for agriculture and elsewhere to support the biolab project,” Kelley said, “polls of the families those organizations represent would show significant opposition.”

“McNerney would do well to campaign against the biolab,” she said.

But Jerry the Lamb says nothing and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, says even less. If it is possible to be even less sensitive to the dangers of lethal war pork than the Lamb and the Shrimp Slayer, try the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Control District, which promises to hold a public hearing on the increase in radioactive explosives at the Tracy City Council chambers on June 26, at 7:30 p.m. This is the air board that approved a plan Thursday to put the San Joaquin Valley air basin in the worst air pollution category the federal government has a name for, in order to extend deadlines for cleaning up pollution so that the flow of federal highway funds will not be halted as a penalty for not attaining its air quality goals. Presumably, by 2026, the nation will have yet another category named to which the Valley can apply for further extensions and more growth-inducing highways. Perhaps it could be called the Radioactive Pathogenic WalMart Distribution Center/NASCAR level of non-attainment. Or simply, the San Joaquin Valley Level.

Dean Andal has announced he’s running against McNerney. It has been discovered that Andal is listed as a principle in Gerry Kamilos’ company, currently proposing to redevelop the former Naval Air Station at Crows Landing, downwind from Site 300, into a business park with a short-haul railroad. Andal, although a ferociously righwing ideologue, might have the brains to oppose the biowarfare lab and the radioactive bombing increases for simple self-preservation as well as self-enrichment. If Andal did oppose the Site 300 projects, he might find constituencies of support unique in his long, reactionary political career.

Yo, Dean, think Reinvention! A coalition awaits, and hey, maybe even Tsakopoulos O Megas would throw a few bucks your way.

Meanwhile, over the hill, the Lamb lives pleasantly in Pleasanton, breaking pencils over PACs full of lobbyists.

Badlands editorial staff

San Francisco Chronicle
Lab managers accused of security breach...Deborah Baker and Jennifer Talhelm, AP

Officials with the contractor that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory sent top-secret data regarding nuclear weapons through open e-mail networks, the latest potentially dangerous security breach to come to light at the birthplace of the atomic bomb, two congressmen said...breach was investigated by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which rounded up laptop computers from Los Alamos National Security LLC's board members and sanitized them. But NNSA and lab officials who subsequently appeared before a congressional committee investigating security problems at the nuclear weapons lab never mentioned it, according to a letter the congressmen sent Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who heads the panel's oversight subcommittee, called that "unacceptable" and demanded an explanation. "This facility's mind-bogglingly poor track record makes me repeat my question: What do we do at Los Alamos that we cannot do elsewhere?" Stupak said Thursday. LANS, which took over the lab's operation, is made up of the lab's former manager, the University of California; Bechtel Corp.; and two other companies. The e-mail case, the latest to come to light, was reported to NNSA by a University of California official on Jan. 19, according to the congressmen. The breach occurred when a consultant to the LANS board, Harold Smith, sent an e-mail containing highly classified, non-encrypted nuclear weapons information to several board members, who forwarded it to other members, according to a Washington aide familiar with the investigation who asked not to be named because the information is sensitive. The notice went out that there had been a breach, an official was pulled out of a White House meeting and told, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory flew a team across California and recovered the laptops within six hours... Lawmakers were assured no damage was caused, according to the aide.

Los Alamos National Laboratory. Energy Dept. acknowledges lab's e-mail security lapse...Keay Davidson

The latest security breach was acknowledged Friday by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman after it was revealed by two congressmen. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who chairs the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, called the latest security lapse a fresh example of Los Alamos' "mind-bogglingly poor track record" on security issues. The scandal comes less than two years after the Energy Department awarded a consortium led by the University of California and Bechtel Corp. a new contract to run Los Alamos partly in order to prevent a repeat of numerous scandals involving the security of weapons information at the lab. The consortium operates under the name Los Alamos National Security LLC. A similar managerial consortium -- one that is also dominated by UC and Bechtel -- was selected May 8 to manage the nation's other nuclear weapons design lab, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore. "The UC-Bechtel consortium at Los Alamos has taken what was a bad managerial situation and made it a lot worse," said Marylia Kelley, head of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, which is based in Livermore. "As long as the United States continues to design and develop new nuclear weapons, some of that information can and will leak out. ... Better management cannot solve that deeper problem." After the news leaked out, Dingell and Stupak wrote Bodman demanding to know why the breach wasn't reported to Congress for six months, even though an unidentified UC official informed the National Nuclear Security Administration of the breach on Jan. 19. The timing delay raises the question of whether another scandal is being covered up -- in effect, the possibility that authorities dragged their feet for almost six months investigating the security breach so that UC and Bechtel could win their joint bid for the Livermore contract without suffering any taint of scandal.

Fresno Bee
Critics unimpressed by smog-plan reform...Mark Grossi

State air officials on Thursday approved a much-criticized smog cleanup plan with a 2024 completion target for the San Joaquin Valley -- but they offered a concession to those who want a quicker fix. In the next six months, the California Air Resources Board will intensely study other pollution-cutting ideas for the Valley, such as banning older vehicles during dirty-air days. Based on the findings, the state air governing board may add more rules to speed up the cleanup. The critics...were not impressed. The state will send the plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which also is expected to approve it. EPA approval would remove the threat of federal sanctions for the Valley, such as the delay of $2 billion in road-building funds. In addition, the Valley would become the first place in the nation to be classified in a category reserved for the worst smog offenders, based on how long a cleanup would take.

Monterey Herald
Nuke weapons workers denied...Michael Alison Chandler and Joby Warrick...Washington Post

Hidden costs...Since its inception in 2000, the compensation program has cut more than 20,000 checks and given long-delayed recognition to workers whose illnesses were hidden costs of the Cold War's military buildup...of the 72,000 cases processed, more than 60 percent have been denied. Thousands of other applicants have been waiting for years for an answer. Overall, only 21 percent of applicants have received checks. Even as the nation continues to close and dismantle many nuclear weapons sites, a growing number of those who helped build the bombs are turning to lawyers and legislators to argue they are being treated unfairly. Many complain that the compensation process is slow, frustrating, even insulting. "You get exposed to something that's so bad you have to leave your clothes behind," McKenzie said, "then they try to tell you it's not their fault that you got sick." Feds call program a success...Some evidence suggests the government has tried to limit payouts for budget reasons. Internal memos obtained by congressional investigators show the Bush administration chafing over the program's rising costs and fighting to block measures that would increase workers' chances of compensation. Labor Department officials who oversee the program say it has been successful, pointing to the large sums distributed: about $2.6 billion in payments in five years, far more than some early estimates. Missing or unreliable records and the murkiness of cancer science, the officials say, make it difficult to satisfy all the claimants. 'Normal beans'...Still, Labor's management of the program has drawn bipartisan, and often fierce, criticism from members of Congress. Former congressman John Hostettler, an Indiana Republican who chaired a House subcommittee overseeing the program, said at a hearing last December that Labor Department memos reflect a "culture of disdain" toward workers and raise questions about whether the department exceeded its authority by using "legalistic interpretations" to limit eligible workers. Scant records...The estimates are based largely on personnel files and historical radiation measurements at the plants. But the records are often so incomplete and unreliable that it can be impossible to determine a worker's true exposure. "At every site, you hear stories about workers being told to put their badges in their lockers," said Mark Griffon, a radiation-safety expert who advises the government on worker exposure. "If workers wore their badges and ended up exceeding their quarterly radiation limit, they could be laid off or put in a different job." Another obstacle is that records are becoming harder to track as plants are dismantled. The compensation program does provide a path for the government to help workers if records are lost or questionable. But critics say officials are reluctant to pursue it. No special status...So far, groups of workers from 18 sites have been added to the special exposure cohort, and petitions are pending for workers from a dozen other sites. The process can be difficult... Denver site...plant gone, many workers are struggling to re-create what happened. Many applicants who were denied blame missing or inadequate records and petitioned two years ago for special cohort status.

| »

Massacre on the Delta

Submitted: Jun 09, 2007

"The collapse of the Delta Estuary is really a regulatory collapse." Bill Jennings, chairman of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

But the regulatory process doesn't collapse all by itself. Delta fish populations were declining 15 years ago. Collapses began a few years ago. Meanwhile, CALFED met to "fix the Delta." The collapses occurred while regulators dithered, environmental stakeholders groups bought into a collaborative process, water agencies sued, and Bush appointees and federal and state legislators muscled resource agencies and starved them of funds.

In Merced, where local, state and federal government officials have continued to buy off most of the public with "citizen" collaborative processes, lawsuits and grassroots campaigns have been successful in stopping some environmental destruction.

The idea of CALFED was to bring state and federal resource agencies, stakeholders and environmental groups together in a collaborative process of regional planning. CALFED failed completely. Yet, today, the governor has initiated two new collaborative planning processes, the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint and the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley in new efforts to stave off environmental lawsuits against ruinous urban growth. The Blueprint and the Partnership will come to be called the children of CALFED.

At the moment, while Congressman Cardoza alarms Lathrop city officials about the terrors of FEMA floodplain maps and poses in farming districts as the savior of the Honey Bee, former Congressman Pombo signs with Stockton to lobby on water issues, and witless Congressman McNerney sojourns in Livermore, Jennings brings us up to date on the slaughter in the Delta...

Much attention has been focused on the expanded salvage numbers of Delta smelt, as identified by DFG, DWR and Bureau representatives in the press. Unfortunately, they have misled the public regarding the actual numbers of smelt killed by the pumps. The real number of smelt killed by the pumps is not 448 (208 by the SWP and 240 by the CVP), but closer to 11,000 smelt killed during May. It is this number that must be compared to the handful of fish found in the Delta by DFG during the May trawls.

I became curious about agency claims after reading a 1994 article in the SacBee by Jim Meyer that quoted DFG biologist Dale Sweetman as saying, “The actual fish kill is at least 12 times the number of fish salvaged” because since “they can’t measure how many fish are killed, the pump’ operators use the number of fish saved by screens as a gauge to estimate the loss.”

I asked biologist Dan Odenweller (retired DFG chief of screening) about the actual killed versus salvaged rates. Dan pointed out that only an estimated 5% of fish are actually diverted around the first set of fish screens to the secondary channel and only about 5% of those are then diverted around the second set of screens to the salvage buckets. In other words, about 99.5% of smelt are neither “salvaged” nor counted. They continue down the DMC toward the Tehachapis. Of course, none of the “salvaged” Delta smelt survive and these numbers don’t include the larval stage of smelt (less than 20 mm) that can’t be detected. Added to the smelt that pass unrecorded through the screens, is the large number killed by predators in Clifton Court Forebay before they get to the pump inlet. The federal facility is somewhat different and doesn’t experience the same degree of predation as the SWP.

Attached is a simple model developed by Odenweller. Based on his best professional judgment, Dan estimates that CVP pumping killed approximately 2,896 smelt during May and the SWP pumping (assuming forebay predation for smelt is the same as salmon) killed 8,533, for an approximate total of 11,429. This is far different that the 448 smelt killed by pumps that we’ve seen widely quoted in the press. The bottom line is that, during May, the project pumps killed somewhere in the vicinity of 300 times the number of smelt DFG found in surveys throughout the Delta.

I’m sure everyone remembers that the CalFed ROD promised state of the art fish screens. That was before the water contractors bluntly stated that they wouldn’t pay for them.

With respect to the current surveys, the 2007 Survey #6 is finished and most of the information has been posted (as of Sunday night). This latest survey found smelt at 6 sites (115 trawls) with a total catch per unit equivalent (CPUE) of 18.28. This compares to last year’s Survey #6 that found smelt at 19 sites (121 trawls) with a total CPUE of 1,273.8. I haven’t seen the total numbers of smelt captured posted but, using the CPUE as an indicator, it’s clear that this year’s Survey #6 shows a massive drop from the corresponding survey last year. Indeed, it’s clear that DFG found far fewer smelt in this year’s Survey #6 than the paltry 25 smelt identified in the immediately preceding Survey #5. The splittail and longfin numbers also reveal a dramatic drop from last year. Striped bass look about the same.

With respect to the alleged reduction (minimized) in pumping at the federal CVP that was almost universally touted in the press, I note that export rate during the first two days in June is exactly the same as pumping throughout May (1,692 Acre Feet, 855 cfs). Farmers get their water despite adverse effects on Delta smelt; municipalities scramble to find supplies from storage. Sound familiar?

Bill Jennings, Chairman
Executive Director
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
3536 Rainier Avenue
Stockton, CA 95204
p: 209-464-5067
c: 209-938-9053
f: 209-464-1028
e: deltakeep [at] aol.com

| »

Requiem for the Honey Bee

Submitted: Jun 06, 2007

Sonny Star had an intimate chat with Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, the other day and described itself as "encouraged" that he was "leading the charge at the congressional level to get special funding to fight (Honey Bee) colony collapse disorder," but that Congress should get on with the task.

This was the finest bit of witless or cynical buffoonery yet from this newspaper, but you know Sonny.

Any species of wildlife in an endangered condition is dead meat in Cardoza's hands.

Let us speculate how it's going to work. First, independent bee scientists already have a pretty good idea about what is happening, but all the news is bad and much of it relates to a number of other ecosystems crashing in the Valley and elsewhere due to the utterly destructive win-win, public-private relationships between pesticide corporations that are now seed corporations and corporate and university biotechnology.

Migratory birds have been dying for years in the Valley due to pesticides, herbicides and now, probably GMO crops. We have no idea the extent of the ecological catastrophe unleashed by these corporations and their university partners, led by the University of California. And it is not a subject of research likely to get a dime of federal research funds as long as the Biotechnology Industry Organization exists.

Cardoza tipped his hand recently in the agricultural subcommittee he chairs when he added a section to the Farm Bill that outlaws local and state governments from passing laws against genetic engineered crops in their jurisdictions -- a flat payoff to biotechnology corporations and a finger flip in the face of progressive agriculture throughout the nation.

In Merced County, we are deeply experienced in ecological disaster due to the Kesterson Wildlife Refuge. However, Sonny's clipping files will hold almost nothing about the mid-1980s disaster that continues to take wildlife in a toxic soup of heavy metals. Nor has the solution to the problem been found, although a last-ditch atttempt to take advantage of Bush administration corruption is now underway, led by Cardoza's good friends at Westlands Water District.

Initially, Cardoza, then an assemblyman, wanted to look like he was playing nice with agriculture and natural resources. He supported the county's application for the Williamson Act in 2000, while working tirelessly behind the scenes to corrupt the permitting process of UC Merced. He supported the Natural Communities Conservation Plan-Habitat Conservation Plan for eastern Merced County, which would have permitted all the takes of endangered species UC and developers could have asked for, at bargain-basement prices. It was only when the NCCP-HCP was defeated by a coalition of local farmers and environmentalists that the Shrimp Slayer took the gloves off on behalf of the contributors to his career in Congress. Since he has been in Congress, he has introduced two bills to eliminate the critical habitat designation in the Endangered Species Act. Acting as the rear end of the famed Pomboza with former Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy, he next introduced a bill to gut the entire ESA.

Let us speculate further how this is going to work. If the Honey Bee goes, the almond industry goes. If the almond industry goes, there is going to be a great deal of farm land on the market at the bottom of the real estate cycle. Although Cardoza will fail utterly by design to get any meaningful research on colony collapse disorder, he will cry to the skies for emergency funds to bail out the poor almond growers. So landowners with almond orchards will very quietly receive their disaster checks from the feds and sell their land to developers.

This will fit marvelously with the Grupe-Spanos California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint, the bullet train, the eastside freeway, a peripheral canal and an eastside canal -- all aimed at turning the San Joaquin Valley into a giant urban slurb.

Valley farmers/landowners are sunk in such lagoons of hypocrisy and corruption that at one county-sponsored meeting on the problem nearly a decade ago, the representative for the local building industry association looked across the table at the representative of environmental organizations, threw up his hands and asked her why the Hell the BIA and the environmentalists were the only organizations in the room trying to protect agriculture.

There is another pork angle: the new biowarfare lab to excite Cardoza's greed: UC/Bechtel/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wants to establish near Tracy on Site 300, where the lab tests bombs containing depleted uranium. The biowarfare lab is being promoted as a possible replacement for the Plum Island USDA Animal Disease Laboratory. Cattle and poultry organizations have been brought on board because the biowarfare lab promises to be studying diseases like foot-and-mouth and Avian flu. Strong evidence suggesting Plum Island security lapses resulted in the release of ticks laden with Lyme Disease, and released W. Nile Fever and possibly Newcastle's Disease into its neighborhood, has met a solid wall of denial for reasons of "National Security." But, what the heck, it makes sense to bring these pathogens incredibly lethal to the huge, nearby cattle, dairy and poultry industries, right?

Agriculture does not control agriculture anymore than Cardoza represents agriculture. However, a pork angle exists and no doubt will be exploited. Another win-win, public-private, emergency-funded program, involving all the usual suspects led by UC will be congregated to engineer a Frankenbee to replace the Honey Bee, which is probably toast. The public will pay for the biotech fix, it will take years, by which time it won't matter anymore except for whatever damage the Frankenbee might cause other ecosystems.

It is even possible that, if UC Merced doesn't get exactly what it wants out of federal resource agencies, "for reasons of National Security" it could begin work on something to extirpate the endangered species in the way of the historical UC mission to expand in Merced. UC Merced already has an animal lab, said to be studying human diseases at an undisclosed level of biosecurity. Meanwhile, cattle, dairy and poultry industries downwind from the Tracy biowarfare lab had better play nice with developers on the UC Board of Regents, or something could happen, because biowarfare lab security isn't always perfect.

Valley agriculture has been through disasters before. Each time, it has picked itself up and gone forward, erasing any memory of the last disaster. But, these days, the historical baseline for Valley agriculture is defined by finance, insurance and real estate, a graph without any reference to Nature. One very rarely hears from farmers or ranchers descriptions of a growing season.

However, there is another historical baseline, the ecology of the Valley, which some do remember. Those people note that every advance in the so-called "development" of the Valley in the last four or five decades has been matched by the crash of ecosystems, the endangerment and extinction of species, and the disappearance of generations of farmers who spoke in terms of seasons and of politicians who would defend agriculture.

Silent Spring is high-balling down the tracks.

Badlands editorial staff

Agriculture doesn't control agriculture.

Silent Spring is coming.

Kesterson showed the way.

What an irony that Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, should be This is a man whose entire political resume has been a fight against endangered species. Even his fight against the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter, in the state Assembly, was a fight to irradicate an agricultural pest, not to save the most valuable, commercially exploited pollinator in the nation.

It appears, in Merced at least, that the issue is totally economic, concerning the almond crop. If the argument remains in that piddling political frame, the honey bee is history, because the almond crop occurs mainly in only three or four congressional districts out of 435 districts. Incidently, the almond industry would be history, too. The collapse of the population of the nation's major pollinator is a much larger issue than that, but how are other members of Congress going to feel about a member who has introduced three bills to weaken the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of the special interests in his district coming to them to ask them to save a species for the economic benefit of another special interest in his district?

I can't imagine a worse congressman to represent the interests of the honey bee or the almond industry dependent on it. After years of expressing the utmost contempt for habitat critical to the survival of species adapted to living in and near vernal pools, including species of bees that only live near vernal pools, how can Cardoza reinvent himself as the champion of an insect?

An early indication of the strength of the Shrimp Slayer's charge to save the Honey Bee is a section in the current Farm Bill added by the subcommittee he chairs. The section would outlaw state and local anti-genetic engineering laws and ordinances, a great boon to Monsanto and the other members of the powerful Biotechnology Industry Organization. There is already a reputable line of independent scientific research that Honey Bee colony collapse is related to GMO crops. Cardoza's promotion of GMO ethanol-corn varieties and his promotion of UC Merced's biotech future all suggest he would not support research into the relationship between GMOs and the Honey Bee.

If, in fact, the most fruitful line of research is that the Honey Bee is the "canary in the waving fields of golden GMO grain," US agriculture is in big trouble. Does anyone remember in the entire FDA and USDA permitting process for GMOs any discussion about something this drastic before that seed was spread across every major agricultural area in the US and Canada?

In any event, it would take a member of Congress with a touch of heroism to suggest the possibility publicly, and that ain't Cardoza. There may not even be a pork angle for University of California and UC/Bechtel/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory because Penn State seems to be the national center for bee research. However, perhaps UC could get federal funding to genetically engineer a Frankenbee to replace the Honey Bee some day.

It may be essential that the government take draconian action, as if as has been said, this disorder is the foot-and-mouth disease of the Honey Bee. Much of these efforts involve NOT doing things that are being done, rather than doing more for example. Perhaps NOT feeding commercial bee colonies GMO corn syrup might help. Perhaps, NOT stressing colonies with trips across America to California almond orchards would help. Perhaps, if contagion is proved to be an issue, more than half the Honey Bees in the nation should NOT congregate here to pollinate almonds.

While these lines of thought might make sense scientifically and agriculturally, they don't make sense politicially or economically, at least not for the 18th congressional district. This could put Cardoza in the position of harming the almond economy of his district for the greater good -- saving a species vital to all agriculture. If, as bee scientists say to dramatize their arcane research, ever few mouthfuls of food you eat is the result of bee pollination, the Speaker should put the task in the hands of a

Bill Hatch

Bee deaths at crisis point...Our View

In 2005 alone, honeybees pollinated $15 billion of U.S. crops, with a third of that amount coming in California. Based on economics alone, it's essential that government get involved to help fight colony collapse disorder... Merced County is one of the largest almond-producing counties in the world, and any shortage of bees during key pollination times would be detrimental to this region's economy. It's officially a crisis — and the federal and state governments need to get involved to make sure enough money is freed up to fight the problem before it becomes a catastrophe. We're encouraged that Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, is leading the charge at the congressional level to get special funding to fight colony collapse disorder. But we were discouraged to learn that Congress probably won't act on the matter until September, which wastes valuable research time. Beekeepers need help and they need it now. It's up to political leaders to get it.


Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has —
1 inspected and passed; or
2 determined to be of non-regulated status.

| »

To manage site Login