Last Week: Jan. 28-Feb. 2, 2013




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Last Week:  Jan. 28-Feb. 2, 2013
In the salt news, the Boswell-owned Tulare Lake Drainage District, proposes to add another 1,800 acres in evaporation pounds full of toxic heavy metal agricultural runoff to the  more than 3,000 acres in ponds already in existence in the bottom of what was once the largest freshwater lake in the West before it was drained by the Boswells to grow cotton. The district proposed 3.6 acres of farmland as mitigation habitat. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s regional director, Dr. Jeffrey Single, shilly-shallied before the press, manifesting the jellied spine of Fish and Game before the feudal lords of agribusiness.
In another display of jelly spine that indicates that the name change from state Department of Fish and GAME to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is merely bureaucratically cosmetic and a bane to journalists trying to tell it apart from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,  state Fish and Wildlife claims it has no jurisdiction to stop the three-day Seventh Annual Coyote Hunt, organized by the Pit River Rod and Gun Club, sponsored by the Adin Supply Co. of Modoc County. This, despite evidence the state’s lone gray wolf is roaming Modoc County at the moment, which is being exploited by coyote-protecting organizations like Project Coyote and the Animal Welfare Institute as a reason the state agency should stop the hunt.
The state Fish and Wildlife says it has no authority and the locals say, "What we have here is part of our heritage. It's been going on for years and years."
Seven years, to be exact. And like most parts of remote, rural California, most people can’t afford to stay where they were born so the issue of “heritage,” except for Indians and a few large ranchers, is dubious. There are a fair number of farmworkers from Oaxaca there, lately, because of a vegetable deal growing up around Tule Lake water. But it is hard to fit them into the county’s “heritage” bearers.
UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, endowed by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Environmental Fund (now defunct), is endorsing fracking in California because “there’s a fortune buried underneath our feet.” Well, to be precise, the feet of people who live along the San Andreas Fault between the San Luis Reservoir and Avenal, moreorless. Not the feet of the Goldman School. As for the fund, it always seemed more concerned with the citizens of Israel and a scattering of other parts of the world than it was concerned with the citizens of California – especially rural citizens -- once describing quite erroneously the Tuolumne River as “free-flowing.” But this would be the idea of public policy of any school associated with the University of California, which no doubt promises the technological black box to solve all the as-yet unknown polluting effects of fracking for shale oil and natural gas. The Goldman folk in fact find that the problem of groundwater pollution from fracking is caused by faultily cemented pipes – leaky pipes – rather than fracking itself.
My goodness gracious, how very public policy-esque. By all means, let us have “rational discourse” on the subject of fracking. Balance. Objectivity. Both sides getting a hearing. All that and some grants for the Goldman School of Public Policy from the natural gas industry.
In his reckless zeal to balance the state budget, Governor Jerry Brown raided $59 million of a $60-million trust fund generated from state lands set aside for public education. The state has until 2016 to repay the fund. Remember that date. Surely the Governor will honor his commitment.
This was the week when official concerns over water supply surfaced even though, despite a fairly dry January, reservoirs are still at 100 percent and more throughout Northern California. As we have noted, the state’s agribusiness and its population are so far beyond its resources’ carrying capacity that this sort of anxiety is endemic if we go 10 days without rain in the winter time. The problem is so simple it escapes our leaders and universities: agricultural and real estate development must grow to continue to generate profits on investment and in fact fantasizes infinite growth … on finite resources, the different economic sectors contending with increasing violence against the others for control of the remaining resources.
It is a pity that ordinary people cannot see their political kinship with endangered species and realize that environmental law and regulation protects the common environment of humanity, flora and fauna.
Our new state Assemblyman Adam Gray, husband of Cadee Condit, son of Candace Adam Medafind, nephew of Robin Adam, stepson of Mark Medafind, wrote a brain-scrambled letter to the editor about the state water board taking more water out of the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers to put into the San Joaquin from January to June. The letter shows signs of the resentful blather of local farm bureaus and irrigation-district directors over the San Joaquin River Settlement. The Settlement ratified by federal court and funded by Congress, puts forth the modest proposition that after 60 years of diversion of its stream at the edge of the Sierra foothills, the San Joaquin River might be allowed to fill up its bed with fresh water and no longer be simply a drainage ditch for agricultural runoff flowing to the Delta. Gray arrogantly repeats the blather, thus endearing himself to the heirs and heiresses of agribusiness in his district, our Futile Nobility.
At a recent hearing on Modesto’s plan to annex Salida, Salida resident Debbie Dyk put the matter in perspective: "Before you take on our town, you need to clean up your town," she said, stirring applause from the crowd.
State legislators Noreen Evans and Das Williams, spoke well in defense of the California Environmental Quality Act as it is, saying in part:

We are proud to be considering the introduction of bills that, if adopted, would provide some of these added protections, and look forward to the Legislature delving into the real opportunities for helping CEQA to work even better for our communities.
However, we would apply the physicians’ rule of “First do no harm.” We must preserve what is best about CEQA. We will resist efforts to fix problems that have already been addressed by previous legislation or are unsubstantiated. For instance, until we see how well SB 226 (Simitian, 2011) and SB 375 (Steinberg, 2008) succeed at streamlining the approval process for infill development, we hesitate to add additional requirements into that area of the law. We also do not believe that providing blanket CEQA exemptions for industries that purport to be “green” is the best approach to improving the environmental review process.