Dairy

Drought Dementia #3: Fracking, regulatory corruption, aquifer contamination, Harvard and Hilmar Cheese

Submitted: Feb 03, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

Successful polluters the world around agree: You just can't trust a government you don't own.

And that's why the smart people in the oil industry figure that whatever the regulatory laws might be, it's all in the enforcement, otherwise known as the "empty monitoring envelop syndrome."  The smart people at Harvard know they can drill all the water they want near Paso Robles. They just may not be smart enough to anticipate what might be in that water. But, they're all Harvard lawyers, so they can sue somebody. And Hilmar Cheese, after a successful run for years with a corrupt state water quality board, dug deep injection wells and accepted federal monitoring. We wonder how that's all going to work out in the drought. Do curds and whey clog drip-irrigation nozzles? -- blj

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Drought dementia 2

Submitted: Jan 30, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

The drought has revealed that all the government and hydrological science available is not going to put California water policy back together again. It is like submitting Humpty Dumpty to exhaustive scientific studies of the tensile strength of egg shells and the heights of walls. As long as the king and his men keep growing, it will just get worse.

The total effect of groundwater regulation and associated increased expenses is going to be to put Valley agriculture 100-percent in the pockets of irrigation and water districts and federal and state agencies with jurisdiction over surface waters. The template has been in place for decades, but this will cause even more concentration of land ownership in the hands even fewer, richer growers. This neo-feudal system of agribusiness is so overwhelming that no new ideas or leadership can be generated from within it. Perhaps the bill by the two congressmen from north of the Bay Area at least won't add to the destruction. -- blj

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Solar patches

Submitted: Jan 29, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

  

 

We join the writer of a letter recently published in the Merced Sun-Star in welcoming a genuine "Fortune 250" energy corporation, NGR, to Merced County.  We couldn't imagine anything as exciting short of news that Occidental Petroleum was opening a local office to manage it fracking wells. We are particularly joyful  to see that this authentic renewable energy corporation calls its plantations of solar panels "gardens" instead of the clunckier "parks." used by a German-based transnational solar corporation to describe its plan to put 1,400 acres under  glass on the west side.

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Moyers' last interview: in the Public Trust Doctrine

Submitted: Jan 08, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

 It was typical of Bill Moyers, the guy who always got it, to end his magnificent career of public broadcasting with an interview on the environment, specifically how the great American environmental law, once the envy of the world's environmentalists, has been largely corrupted -- Badlands has done some documentation on that topic -- and that the whole environmental legal edifice needs to be regrounded in  Public Trust Doctrine. Moyer's guest, Mary Christina Wood, a legal scholar from the University of Oregon, has published a book on the topic, Nature's Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age, Cambridge University Press, 2013. -- blj

1-2-15

 

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LA: it believes in its own tinsel

Submitted: Oct 20, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 LA lives or dies by its own propaganda except for its fine B movies, its superb detective-story writers, and the incomparable Mike Davis (City of Quartz, Planet of Slums, and much more).

But, is it absolutely necessary that the rest of the state swallow LA propaganda, particularly on the question of how much Northern California water it "deserves" as "fair and equitable" so it can continue to grow? For the benefit of whom (1)  at the cost of the destruction to what (2)?

See answers below. -- blj

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Historical perspective on California megadroughts

Submitted: Oct 13, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

How might the historical grasp of the frequency of megadroughts in California influence our decision on the water bond, with its funds for the construction of tunnels beneath the Delta to ship the fresher Sacramento River water to the great north-south canals?

For some, it make make the bond even more imperative than it already is for them. At any cost to the environmental and -- increasingly -- to the society, capitalism in California must continue following the path to the greatest return on investment -- real estate development, either residential or -- also increasingly -- in agribusiness. Another player in the merry dance of natural resource destruction in the state is hydraulic fracturing drilling for oil and gas, which uses enormous quantities of water and pollutes groundwater wherever it is established.

Others, perhaps more thoughtful people, and those who possess some connection with Nature not entirely committed to commercial exploitation and destruction, might take a different view.  Or, simply that that portion of the vast majority of Californians that don't have much of any connection to Nature, exploitive or otherwise, but who are just not subject to being bullied by the fear mongering of the usual financial, insurance and real estate special interests. 

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Extirpation

Submitted: Jul 14, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board


"To extirpate" means to destroy completely or to extinguish. It is a fancy word used by resource-agency biologists in the past participle, "extirpated," as professional jargon for "extinction". Agribusiness, Southern Californa water agencies and state and federal resource agencies have been working together for years to extirpate the Delta smelt because it is the principle endangered species that obstructs agricultural corporations and urban water agencies from unlimited use of Delta water. Exstirpation of the Delta smelt would render moot the entire ediface of official biological opinion and state and federal judges' rulings that tend to limit the amount of water that primarily corporate agricultural interests (which use 80 percent of California's water) can legally take from the Delta. 

The federal Bureau of Reclamation may be able to guarantee at least some water to junior water-rights holders in the Westlands Water District after the Delta smelt disappears from memory. If so, the gamble that west side growers took -- to plant permanent crops without a guarantee of receiving water in dry years -- will pay off and a new "balance" will be achieved.

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Intro to human trafficking

Submitted: Jun 30, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

 

Human Trafficking in California

As a diverse cultural center and popular destination for immigrants with multiple international borders, California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking in the United States. In the two years between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012, California's task forces initiated 2,552 investigations, identified 1,277 victims of human trafficking, and arrested 1,798 individuals. -- State of Human Trafficking in California, 2012

 

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The Merced County water saga goes on, Part 2

Submitted: Jun 07, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 On Tuesday, the Merced Board of Supervisors debated long and hard -- with help from legal, planning and executive staff -- about how they could stop Steve Sloan, former chairman of the county Planning Commission,  and an adjoining landowner, from selling more than 20,000 acre feet of groundwater to Del Puerto Water District, based in Stanislaus County. County leaders, except Supervisor Gerry O'Banion, in whose district the transfer would take place, with a mixture of desperation and exaspiration, reached for some means of stopping Sloan and his neighbor from making the millions the desperate Del Puerto growers are willing to pay to keep their almond orchards alive. Everything from an emergency  moratorium to doing nothing was discussed

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History in Agrobizistan

Submitted: Apr 12, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board
 
The fundamental raison d'etre of public relations, without which corporations could not survive a public with normal memory capacity,  is that "perception is reality." The reality is that Hilmar Cheese has destroyed the groundwater in Hilmar, was finally, after 15 years bribery and political intimidation failed, exposed by the state water quality board and fined, and "fixed" the problem by drilling deep injection wells for its enormous quantities of daily waste, and are now regulated only by the federal EPA. Presumably, the company's influence is still working in Washington DC. 
 
Last week, Hilmar Cheese received awards from various national "green building" groups for its new headquarters and "innovation center" in Hilmar. At the center of this little soap opera of success and righteousness, was a quote by the Chairman: 
 
Richard Clauss, chairman of the Hilmar Cheese Company board of directors, opened the dedication explaining, “LEED demonstrates our continuing commitment to stewardship and sustainability. Our owners and employees live here and we strive to do what is right – for our employees, the dairy farmers that supply us milk, the community and our natural resources.”
 
As the Swiss say: a large manure pile means the owner is wealthy.
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