Water

Regulation and its absence

Submitted: Jul 05, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The dismal dialectic between government and business may be approaching the trough, even if it has not bottomed out yet. From this vantage point, the velocity of bribery having slowed from the sheer volume of the current bribes, something almost like a calm prevails. And in this calm it is possible to see why government regulates on behalf of the people and why business reacts and works to undermine and destroy every governmental regulation. Out of the latter motive comes such idiotic slogans as "The business of America is business," (Pres. Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929), and all subsequent slogans in this vein, like the immortal chamber of commerce chesnut, "Government should be run like a business."

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A sensible lawsuit to reform the state Legislature

Submitted: Jul 03, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 A federal lawsuit claims that our rights to representation are being violated because the size of the Legislature — 40 senators and 80 Assembly members — hasn’t changed since 1862 (and was made permanent by the 1879 Constitution ) even though the state’s population has grown from about 420,000 to nearly 40 million.

That means the number of Californians represented by each Assembly member has jumped from about 5,200 to nearly 500,000. And that dilutes the power of each vote and makes it nearly impossible for legislators to represent competing interests, according to the lawsuit.

 

 

 

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The dam issue

Submitted: Jun 25, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 “We completed a reconnaissance-level assessment of the spillway at Lopez Dam and have noted that structure may have potential geologic, structural, or performance issues that could jeopardize its ability to safely pass a flood event,” the letter stated.

"We did a superficial inspection and determined that the dam is unsafe in the event of a flood?" Is that what the flakperson was trying not quite to say?

What is a reconnaissance-level assessment? Were helicopters involved?

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Alas, poor Farmer John

Submitted: Jun 24, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Alas, the judge denied poor Farmer John's request to have federal EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testify in the federal court hearing that will decide if the Army Corps' $2.8-million fine for deep ripping will hold. Duarte's Pacific Legal Foundation lawyers barked like Chihuahuas at the passing caravan of Clean Water Act precedents.

--blj

 

6-16-17

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Neurotic aqua-utilitarian quantification

Submitted: Jun 13, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

If there is one thing that slip-slides away from easy quantification, it's water. None of its larger units of measurement, like the acre-foot, let alone a million gallons,  are easily imagined by the ordinary human being. Nor does it do much good to say that a family of four uses about an acre-foot of water a year, at least to people who remember when in the not too distant past the authorities said it took two acre-feet to achieve the same goal for the little family. And how big is a raindrop anyway?

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Poor Farmer John

Submitted: Jun 10, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Farmers are exempt from needing permits to plow their lands under the Clean Water Act. But the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, implemented by Obama in 2015, prohibits plowing below the clay beneath the topsoil that keeps vernal pools, which count as wetlands, from draining. Duarte’s land does, indeed, include some vernal pools. He said the field was plowed only from 4 to 7 inches in depth, and maybe a foot deep in one place. And farmers can till land with vernal pools as long as they don’t destroy the pool’s existence, he said.

An Army Corps inspector saw the plowing, told Duarte to stop and followed up with a cease-and-desist order. The inspector said Duarte’s hired hand was “deep ripping,” going three feet deep in some places ...

 

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Climate in the Age of Resentment

Submitted: Jun 04, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 It is not easy to put President Trump's exit from the Paris Climate Accord in perspective, perhaps because it is the new perspective, the world as it now is; and that is hard to accept. The general contour of this new perspective is that while large majorities of the public support environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water and Air acts even though they do impose limits on the capitalist economic system, today special interests have such a strong grip on at least two of the three branches of government (the judicial branch is still in question) that the United States government will no longer lead or follow intelligent environmental policies unless the sane majority regains control of -- for a start -- both political parties.

Our bar for sanity is low: stay on your medication and avoid overindulging your resentments.

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A stronger California Public Records Act proposed

Submitted: May 25, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

More importantly, the bill would allow judges to fine public agencies $1,000 to $5,000 for blatantly violating the act, such as unreasonably withholding or delaying the release of records that clearly are public. Currently, there is no penalty. 


Like the California Brown Act, which governs public meetings, local governments like Merced County are constantly trying to encroach on the clear meaning of the public's right to know about the public's business, and so must be periodically strengthened. This can take the form of expensive losses in court like Merced County's absurd temper tantrum over violations of the Brown Act that resulted in two court decisions against it. Or, it can take the form proposed in AB 1479, adding  designated staff person to handle all PRA requests thoroughly and promtly or face a fine (if the public or newspaper is willing to take the government or agency to court).

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