Sunday, September 1, 2013

'Clean' version of the Delta Plan isn't fooling anybody'

Photo of the Delta Plan documents courtesy of the Delta Stewardship Council.

'Clean' version of the Delta Plan isn't fooling anybody

by Dan Bacher

The Delta Stewardship Council Wednesday released what it described as a "clean" version of the Final Delta Plan, a controversial document now being contested in seven lawsuits by diverse parties ranging from the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to the Westlands Water District.

"A clean version of the Final Delta Plan, including an Executive Summary, easy to read text, informative graphics, and decorative photographs, is available for review and downloading by clicking," the Council proclaimed.

So does that mean that the previous version of the plan was "dirty," as in obscene, corrupt, poorly written, ill-conceived and driven by dirty corporate money?

Apparently, the "clean" the Council is referring to is the "cleaning up" of the documents that previously featured a lot of crossed out and added on language.

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and a board member of both the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and Restore the Delta, wasn't impressed by the "clean" documents.

"The Council can put all of the lipstick they can on the pig, but it is still a pig, a plan that perpetuates the status quo," Jennings quipped. "The plan will not reach either of the coequal goals of restoring the Delta or providing water supply reliability."

The same Delta Stewardship Council website lists a number of “stakeholders” gushing about the “wonderful” Delta Plan. However a quick review of the web page proclaiming “What they’re saying about the Delta Plan” displays comments only from pro-peripheral tunnel politicians, water contractors and NGOs.

Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinbeg, Ellen Hanak, Sr. Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, Tim Quinn, the Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agency, Dave Zelzulak of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and others opine about the “glories” of the terminally flawed Delta Plan. (

Steinberg, who was responsible for pushing through the Legislature the water policy/water bond creating a clear path to the construction of the peripheral tunnels, claims, “The Delta Plan moves the state into the 21st Century of sustainable water management.”

Actually, the Delta Plan relies on outdated 19th Century “solutions” led by the peripheral tunnel plan to export northern California water to corporate agribusiness and oil companies looking to expand fracking in California.

Jennings added, “Relying on these politicians and water contractors to drum up support for the Delta Plan is like Richard Nixon’s cabinet members warning him to not worry about the Watergate hulabaloo – it will be all right.”

“It is also akin to King George’s advisers telling him not to worry about that little revolt in the colonies,” Jennings noted.

The seven separate lawsuits challenging the Delta Plan include one by Westlands Water District; another one by the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, AquAlliance, Restore the Delta, Friends of the River and Center for Biological Diversity; and yet another one by the North Coast Rivers Alliance, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Associations and Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe. (

The City of Stockton; Save the Delta Alliance; Central Delta Water Agency, South Delta Water Agency, Local Agencies of the North Delta and Lafayette Ranch Inc.; and the State Water Contactors are also suing the Council over the plan.

“The Delta Plan violates CEQA in ten different ways,” explained Mike Jackson, attorney for C-WIN, Restore the Delta, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and AquAlliance. “It fails to achieve the co-equal goals of Delta ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability established by the Act.”

Jackson said the plan ignored three critical documents they were obligated to use: a State Water Resources Control Board water flow recommendation; a Department of Fish and Wildlife report on biological objectives for Delta fish and wildlife species; and the Delta Protection Commission’s economic sustainability report. “In all three cases, the documents were inconvenient to the approval of the tunnels,” he noted.

Yet in spite of the seven lawsuits and widespread opposition to the poorly conceived and written Delta Plan, Phil Isenberg, Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, and other members of the Council continue to forge on with the plan’s implementation.

Isenberg is no stranger to overseeing badly flawed “environmental” processes that violate numerous state and federal laws.

He chaired Arnold Schwarzenegger’s corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Central Coast. This privately funded process created so-called marine protected areas that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil spills and offshore drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering.

His colleague on that task force, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, ended up chairing the Initiative’s task force for Southern California. Reheis-Boyd is a curious type of “marine guardian,” since she serves as President of the Western States Petroleum Association and is leading the effort to expand fracking in California, build the Keystone XL Pipeline and to eviscerate environmental laws.

Isenberg also chaired Schwarzenegger’s equally flawed Delta Vision process that recommended the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnels.

Nobody sums up the threat that the peripheral canal or tunnels present to the state better than Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

“The common people will pay for the canal, and a few people will make millions,” said Sisk. “It will turn a once pristine water way into a sewer pipe. It will be all bad for the fish, the ocean and the people of California.” (

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