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California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water; BC Canada Export Scandal - Printable Version

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California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water; BC Canada Export Scandal - FastTadpole - 01-04-2010 09:38 AM

They didn't stand for this shit (it's called corruption there) in Bolivia, the rioted in the streets. Should be interesting to see how Kalifornia reacts. It's pathetic that so many people missed the provision for private profit (if you actually believe that) considering it is their job.

Check out the following films if you haven't already, plenty of other relevant stuff on the tracker too:

Flow
http://www.flowthefilm.com/

Blue Gold: World Water Wars
http://www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com/

Quote:Water privatization sneaks into $11.1B water bond in California under a little-noticed provision.

By Stephanie Rogers
Thu, Dec 31 2009

Private companies could make a profit by selling water back to the public under a little-noticed provision in California’s $11.1 billion water bond. In a state where water is an especially precious resource, this provision may become controversial as it goes before voters in 2010.

California Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, introduced the proposal and says it provides the state with flexibility in financing state water projects.

But as California’s population grows, and water becomes scarcer than ever, critics worry that giving control of this resource to private companies is a recipe for disaster.

The bond bill doesn’t specifically mention the possibility that private companies could profit from water storage projects and few lawmakers, water experts and water privatization opponents even noticed the provision’s inclusion. The bond has already been approved by state legislature.

But according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the bond allows for the creation of joint powers authorities who "may include in their membership governmental and nongovernmental partners that are not located within their respective hydrologic regions in financing the surface storage projects."

Those authorities would "own, govern, manage and operate a surface storage project."

"That's very, very dangerous because that ... opens the door to the privatization of water," said Carolee Krieger, president of the California Water Impact Network, a water consumer advocacy organization.

"If someone is doing this privately they are doing it for their own profit ... and if there is a profit motive there, the price is going to go up for everyone."
http://digg.com/environment/California_bond_allows_private_companies_control_of_water
http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/california-bond-allows-private-companies-control-of-water


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - h3rm35 - 01-05-2010 03:50 AM

thanx for the info...
I kick it on the dock of the SF bay, and hadn't heard about this yet... Been too busy trying to get public protections around the Ricmond Cheveron Refinery which was built over 100 years ago...
rest assured, i've got links into activist communities here, and this WILL NOT go unnoticed by the voters, even if we are all working our asses off setting up a supreme court case to overthrow marijuana prohibition nation-wide.

just think of how much hydroponic systems would cost to run if this passed!!!!!!!

Any chance you might have an easy link to the actual text of the bond act?
I'm pretty good at reading through legal jargon and putting notes together in a convincing way...


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - FastTadpole - 01-05-2010 04:34 AM

I've been digging around for it and have a few ppl on it but nothing yet.

Here is the codes and statutes from 2008 though - just for fun.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html

This might be it - haven't looked through it yet though.
http://bondaccountability.resources.ca.gov/p84.aspx

Related:
Is it Illegal for homeowners to harvest rainwater?
http://digg.com/d3zL8D

Quote:Tim Pope, owner of Northwest Water Source and president of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, is still in violation of the law. As a Washington state resident, it isn’t likely he’ll be legally allowed to collect rainwater any time soon. Recent efforts to get minor exceptions to the ban on rainwater harvesting in Washington and Utah failed.



RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - h3rm35 - 01-05-2010 05:04 AM

not to toot my own horn, but just to get some stuff cross posted before my old forum crumbles, this is what I did to HR 875 - "monsanto's dream bill"

As a health food industry veteran, I was inspired by this post:
Quote: http://www.opednews.com/articles/Monsanto-...090309-337.html


March 9, 2009 at 09:01:37
Monsanto's dream bill, HR 875
by Linn Cohen-Cole



To begin reversing GM contamination will require ending the power biotech companies such as Monsanto exert over our government and through that, over our food.

HR 875, was introduced by Rosa DeLauro whose husband Stanley Greenburg works for Monsanto.

The bill is monstrous on level after level - the power it would give to Monsanto, the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hours GPS tracking of their animals, the easements on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition by the filthy, greedy industrial side of anti-farming international "industrial" standards to independent farms - the only part of our food system that still works, the planned elimination of farmers through all these means.

The corporations want the land, they want more intensive industrialization, they want the end of normal animals so they can substitute patented genetically engineered ones they own, they want the end of normal seeds and thus of seed banking by farmers or individuals. They want control over all seeds, animals, water, and land.


Our farmers are good stewards. That is who is threatened by Rosa DeLauro's bill (and because of that, we all are). At a time in this country when wise stewardship and the production of anything real - especially good food - is what is most needed, it is our best stewards whom Rosa DeLauro threatens, under the cruelly false name of "food safety."

And now Monsanto wants its own employee, Michael Taylor - the man who forced genetically engineered rBGH on us (unlabeled so us, unaware) when the Clintons placed him over "food safety" in the 90s - back in government, this time to act with massive police power as a "food safety tsar" from inside the White House. HR 875 would give him immense power over what is done on every single farm in the country and massive police state power to wield over farmers and punishments to break them at will.

The following quotes show Monsanto and its biotech ilk are not "stewards" at all. Their inhuman focus on profit has led to inhuman, insane, sickening products that require intense corruption of democracy and science institutes and media, to foist them on country after country which don't want them.

It is our farmers who stand between us and this outrage which masquerades as science, as food, as normal business, as government. And it is or farmers who need not only protecting and but actual freeing from government intrusion, control and harm.

Vegetarians and vegans do not identify with farmers who raise animals but what is at stake here is critical for all of us. "First they came for the Jews" is an apt reminder of what matters in standing with each other because the overwhelming bureaucratic burdens, the recording over every single thing done on a farm, the warrantless inspections, the end of farmers markets, the criminalization of seed banking, the ten years in prison for stepping out of line in any way, will next be applied not to animals breaking out of fence onto a neighbors' farm, but for such things as not spraying pesticides on an organic farm to eradicate earthworms (now listed as an invasive species) because the government's "food safety tsar" has deemed it necessary. It is totalitarian control (and HR 875 epitomizes it) which we stand against, and now it is aimed with ferocity at farmers with animals. Stopping it now keeps all farmers safe.

Rosa DeLauro and Stanley Greenburg have a great deal to account for in attempting through a mislabeled bill with hidden intent to wipe out our farmers and harm all of us. HR 875 gives Monsanto greater power and opens doors wider to the following ...

GM and non-GM crops cannot coexist



"OK, we know that cross-pollination will occur but we’ve got thirty years of experience to say we know how far pollen will travel. And therefore what we’ve done is we’ll grow a GM crop at a distance away from a non-GM crop, so the people that want non-GM can buy non-GM, and the people that want GM can buy GM. The two will not get mixed up. Everybody will have the right to choose."

Paul Rylott, Seed Manager for Aventis CropScience, and later chief spokesperson for the agricultural biotechnology industry in the UK, "Matter of fact”, BBC2 Eastern Region, broadcast 12 October 2000


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"Global incidents of genetic contamination from genetically modified (GM) crops are on the rise, while the companies responsible ignore the consequences. Since 2005, the GM Contamination Register has recorded 216 contamination events in 57 countries since GM crops were first grown commercially on a large scale in 1996. While companies claim they can control the use of GM crops, the reality is very different."

Greenpeace International, “Biotech companies fuel GM contamination spread”, 29 February 2008


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"If some people are allowed to choose to grow, sell and consume GM foods, soon nobody will be able to choose food, or a biosphere, free of GM. It’s a one way choice, like the introduction of rabbits or cane toads to Australia; once it’s made, it can’t be reversed."

Roger Levett, specialist in sustainable development, “Choice: Less can be more",Food Ethics, Vol. 3, No. 3, Autumn 2008

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"The hope of the industry is that over time the market is so flooded [with GMOs] that there’s nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender."

Don Westfall, biotech industry consultant and vice-president of Promar International quoted in, “Starlink fallout could cost billions”, Toronto Star, 9 January 2001


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"The industry is in reality making serious efforts, whether legally or illegally, to contaminate the cultivated species all over the world."

Devinder Sharma, trade policy analyst, “The great genetic scandal”, Center for Alternative Agricultural Media, 1 August 2002


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"[Dale] Adolphe [of the Canadian Seed Growers Association] said it's ironic that even as public protests and opposition to GM food products seem to grow and even as new regulations and controls are put in place, the total acreage devoted to GM crops around the world is expanding. That may be what eventually brings the debate to an end, said Adolphe. 'It's a hell of a thing to say that the way we win is don't give the consumer a choice, but that might be it.'"

Adrian Ewins, quoting Dale Adolphe of the Canadian Seed Growers Association in “Biotech wins by giving consumers no choice", The Western Producer, 4 April 2002


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"People will have [GM] Roundup Ready soya whether they like it or not."

Monsanto spokesperson in Britian, Ann Foster, “The politics of food", Maria Margaronis, The Nation, 27 December 1999


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"The US Department of Agriculture claims to know where the maize — banned from all food use globally and only recently approved for US exports — is located. Aventis, the French firm which developed the genetically modified maize sold throughout the US maize belt in 1999 and 2000, says it knows, also. So do I: StarLink maize is everywhere."

US agricultural journalist Alan Guebert, "Another contamination scandal dents US biotech hopes", Farmers Weekly, 8 December 2000


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"It's important for countries around the world to adopt a uniform standard of acceptable levels of contamination."

Biotechnology Industry Organization spokesperson, Lisa Dry quoted in, "Engineered DNA found in crop seeds", Rick Weiss, Washington Post, 24 February 2004

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"In 2006 it was discovered that 30% of the entire US long-grain rice supply had become contaminated by experimental GM rice varieties unapproved for human consumption. Not only was this a public safety disaster, but also cost the rice industry over $1 billion. The contamination source? 'Controlled' field trials."

The Soil Association, “Government to defy critics with secret GM crop trials",Today's News, 17 November 2008


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"If they can’t prevent it there, there is little chance they will avoid it in the field."

Dr Brian Johnson of English Nature, after sugar beets genetically modified to resist one company’s herbicide accidentally acquired GM genes resistant to another company’s herbicide, despite being grown in greenhouses. “Stray genes highlight superweed danger", New Scientist, issue 2261, 21 October 2000


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"Cross-pollination of the environment is an issue, and that has to be addressed. And for those countries that have very small landmass, there’s no way they can segregate GM crops from conventional crops or from organic crops, and so the likelihood of cross pollination exists."

Prof Patrick Wall, until 2008 the Chairman of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EU Agency mandated by the European Commission to advise on the safety of genetically modified food and animal feed for the European Union, in an interview: "We cannot force-feed EU citizens with GM food", 2 December 2008


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"The cultivation of genetically modified maize [in Spain] has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivations of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible."

Conclusion of research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics: “An impossible coexistence: transgenic and organic agriculture", Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 30 June 2008


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Mexican plant biologist, Ignacio Chapela, and his student David Quist, were the target of attack for their painstaking research that established the spread of transgenes in the centre of origin of maize. Such genetic contamination would ultimately destroy the world's available genetic purity and in the very hotspots of diversity. The National Biodiversity Commission of Mexico accepted the findings. ‘It is confirmed. There is no doubt about it,’ Jorge Soberon of the Commission was reported as saying. Two separate teams found transgenic DNA in around 10 per cent of crop plants sampled in Oaxaca province, describing it as ‘the world's worst case of GM contamination’."

Devinder Sharma, trade policy analyst, “The great genetic scandal”, Center for Alternative Agricultural Media, 1 August 2002. Quist and Chapela's findings were further confirmed by a study published in 2008, see "Modified genes spread to local maize"




Linn Cohen-Cole is a leftist who was lucky enough to meet libertarian and conservative farmers and become friends, learning an incredible amount about farming and nature and science, as well as about increasing government violations against them and against us all. It's not only nothing like what we've been taught to assume about the other side of the fence, it's full of great people with immense decency.



The original bill can be found here, it totals 117 pgs - I took 12 pages of notes and boiled it down to this:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/bb/index.php?showtopic=25552&view=findpost&p=151646

Well, I've gone through the whole damn thing now, and wrote notes totaling 12 pages... I'm not going to post them - don't worry.

This bill scares the hell out of me.

Quote:QUOTE
The bill is monstrous on level after level - the power it would give to Monsanto, the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hours GPS tracking of their animals, the easements on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition by the filthy, greedy industrial side of anti-farming international "industrial" standards to independent farms - the only part of our food system that still works, the planned elimination of farmers through all these means.


Considering the author of the bill, this author's fear is entirely valid, but the wording in this paragraph could easily be brushed aside as sensationalistic conspiracy theory - a great thing for the bill's supporters. Through pointing at people like the author, they can say "see, it couldn't be as bad as he says it is, so it must be fine. If you question it, you must be as crazy as he is!"

Everything that he's saying is entirely possible, and probable, but in order to get serious attention, his tone should change. It needs to change, because the truth of the first line in the paragraph above goes waaaaaay beyond the surface he's scratched.

Yes - this bill would be devastating to small farms, and an enormous boon to both Monsanto and Stanley Greenburg. Even if he's not appointed as the "Administrator of Food Safety," and someone who didn't introduce rBGH was installed for political reasons, the bill provides for the hiring of "Experts and Consultants" who receive both a salary and ALL expenses covered while in the Agency's employ, and the creation of "advisory committees that consist of representatives of scientific expert bodies, academics, industry specialists, and consumers."
Either of these positions could create a figurehead situation like the Bush/Cheney relationship, leading to Monsanto's continued growth and influence, and the continued push toward a world where all food is patented. These things are all probable, but unsubstantiated in the language of the bill.

The really scary stuff is in the text of the bill itself, and goes beyond peddling influence to Monsanto.

The really scary stuff is the direct paraphrasing of Codex Alimentarius initiatives opportunistically wedged between seemingly rational improved safeguards for the general public in food production and distribution that will be readily accepted by a populace scared to death by their peanut butter and baby formula. These provisions are dissected into a form that most people won't have the time or patience to digest, due to incomprehensibility that one gifted in legalese can create when they want certain negative specifics overlooked in deference to the overall facade they wish to be seen.

The most drastic change this bill tries to impose is the re-definition and restructuring of the "Food and Drug Administration," the FDA.

in the bill's own words:
Quote:QUOTE
Renaming and Reservation of Agency Identity- The Food and Drug Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services is hereby renamed the Federal Drug and Device Administration and may be referred to as ‘FDA’.


I find it pretty sinister, completely revamping the direction of a well known agency, yet keeping the acronym exactly the same, leaving unwitting people to assume that nothing's changed...

there's also a provision that automatically transfers previously registered food related businesses under a recognized, long-standing code of law to the restrictions and responsibilities of this bill:
Quote:QUOTE
© Transitional Provision- During the 6-month period following the date of the enactment of
this Act, a food establishment is deemed to be registered in accordance with this section if
the establishment is registered under section 415 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic
Act (21 U.S.C. 350d).

So this bill, if passed, automatically registers unwitting farmers and processors to its provisions without notice - there's got to be something illegal in that - basically shifting restrictions and responsibilties from one contract to another without consent.

...This change brings all kinds of new areas under their jurisdiction, from surveillance of businesses and livestock, to the main crux of the fear of Codex standards being implemented - a complete and total revamping of what can be labeled as a "contaminant."

Previously, dietary supplements, such as vitamins and minerals, couldn't be regulated by the FDA. Under this bill, a food-borne illness outbreak is defined as:
Quote:QUOTE
the occurrence of 2 or more cases of a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food.

Now, those things that cause an "outbreak" are considered "contaminants."

both vitamin c and magnesium can cause diarrhea in some people at currently acceptable dosage levels. Magnesium will do it to almost anyone if they take the entire current RDA (500 mg.) at the same time. If two people get diarrhea from either of these substances, their status as "contaminants" will be cemented, putting them under the regulation of these agencies under DHHS.

More on the contaminant thing...
The bill states that the Administrator of Food Safety only has to come up with a list of "contaminants" they will regulate SIX MOTHS AFTER enactment of the bill. This means that congress will have a bill in front of them that every fan of peanut butter will want passed from its name alone, yet not have any idea what this person, (be they an employee of Monsanto, or a pharmaceutical company, or a tobacco executive, or a health-food guru,) intends to regulate or outlaw. Codex specialists insist that codex will eventually implement a Napoleonic code of what we'll be allowed to consume. This sure sounds like a beginning of that to me.

back to the "outbreak" issue...
the bill constantly focuses on what it calls "specific categories of consumers" like in this section:
Quote:QUOTE
(B ) Comprehensive Analysis- The program shall be based on a comprehensive analysis of the
hazards associated with different food and with the processing of different food, including
the identification and evaluation of--

(1) the severity of the potential health risks;

(2) the sources of potentially hazardous contamination or practices extending from the farm
or ranch to the consumer that may increase the risk of food-borne illness;

(3) the potential for persistence, multiplication, or concentration of naturally occurring
or added contaminants in food;

(4) the potential for hazardous contamination to have cumulative toxic effects,
multigenerational effects, or effects on specific categories of consumers;

(5) opportunities across the food production, processing, distribution, and retail system to
reduce potential health risks; and

(6) opportunities for intentional contamination of food or food ingredients


now earlier in the bill they refer to a few "specific categories of consumer" as babies, the old, or the infirmed, (I'm assuming here that "infirmed" encompasses the immuno-compromised.)

so if any two people in these groups are negatively affected by any "ingestion of a common food" that product, and anything in it becomes a potential "contaminant" subject to regulation or dis-allowance.

so if two AIDS patients drink raw milk from the local Amish farm, and get sick, everyone at the farm is now liable both civilly (crushing their livelihood) and criminally - punishable with up to five years in a non-mortal case, and ten in a case where someone were to die. Not only that, but then raw milk would be federally regulated (kind of like a controlled substance,) or outright outlawed.

This bill, as the author of the article above states, can mandate treatments for crops and livestock that it deems necessary to prevent contamination, such as mandating which products are acceptable to do so - I'm sure DOW lobbyists are squeeling with delight for the prospects of the new toxic pesticides they're developing...

You may think that all this regulation and oversight may pertain solely to those who distribute food as a business, but no - this pertains to your home garden. There's a provision that demands:
Quote:QUOTE
a comparison of the safety of commercial processing with the health hazards associated with food that is harvested for recreational or subsistence purposes and prepared noncommercially...
so at some point in the near future, if you grow your own food, you may be required by law to spray it with round-up.

All in all, I haven't seen a more devastating attempt at infringement on an individual's personal way of life than the USAPATRIOT act. This must be stopped... at all costs.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I followed up by starting petitions in the chain of health food stores that I was a manager in... I followed through on this promise, in an attempt to whack all the 39 (D)emocratic co-sponsors and thus, it's never made it out of committee (though I'm sure not through my effort alone):

Quote:I'll be writing up a petition in the next day or so, and circulating it in the four stores in the chain that employs me, as well as contacting the various trade organizations and distributors in my industry. There are also various other activists that know Codex that have their own networks that I've been in touch with over the last couple years that will be receiving an action alert.


so no, if I have anything to say about it, this water bond will not be approved.


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - FastTadpole - 01-05-2010 05:31 AM

Clap

Bravo mate.

How are you at Canadian Law (Largely British Common Law until ~1973)? I have something similar I've been dissecting regarding Bill C-6 and a totally unrelated C-61 Bill on copyright (ACTA precursor). I like picking apart UN docs as well - I new found hobby of mine but I'm pretty new to digging up stuff like this and many of us are - any good guides or quick points as to how to get lawmakers to listen to you -- that is beyond what you have just posted which really speaks volumes.


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - h3rm35 - 01-05-2010 05:35 AM

(01-05-2010 04:34 AM)FastTadpole Wrote:  I've been digging around for it and have a few ppl on it but nothing yet.

Here is the codes and statutes from 2008 though - just for fun.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html

This might be it - haven't looked through it yet though.
http://bondaccountability.resources.ca.gov/p84.aspx

Related:
Is it Illegal for homeowners to harvest rainwater?
http://digg.com/d3zL8D

Quote:Tim Pope, owner of Northwest Water Source and president of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, is still in violation of the law. As a Washington state resident, it isn’t likely he’ll be legally allowed to collect rainwater any time soon. Recent efforts to get minor exceptions to the ban on rainwater harvesting in Washington and Utah failed.

thanx... I'll probably go through that tomorrow - I have another day off before I go back to my job trying to get basic education and medical attention for children who live in poverty...

Really, all the help is much appreciated.
Anything that can help break out of a societally imposed prison of apathy is worth all the time devoted to its pronouncement. You truly are appreciated.


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - FastTadpole - 01-05-2010 05:40 AM

Groovy I best be tending to my kids as well - in a capitalist sense atm. Really nice to have you on board, h3rm35 (Hermes - the great Messenger of the gods?).


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - h3rm35 - 01-08-2010 11:18 PM

(01-05-2010 05:40 AM)FastTadpole Wrote:  Really nice to have you on board, h3rm35 (Hermes - the great Messenger of the gods?).
thanx, yeah, kinda like that... more in the emerald tablet, thoth, trimagestus, manifestation of thought philosophy sense...

anywho, I just found this on the california water thingy:
Quote:Why Just About Everything You Hear About California's Water Crisis Is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
By Yasha Levine, AlterNet
Posted on January 8, 2010, Printed on January 8, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/144992/

We've been lied to for years now about the severity of California's water shortage. The media and state officials have been ringing the alarm, warning that the state was in the grips of the quite possibly the "worst California drought in modern history," when in fact the state nearly pulled in its average rainfall in 2009. The fearmongering is about to go into overdrive, as powerful interests start whipping up fears of drought to push through a $11 billion bond measure on the upcoming November elections, setting up the Golden State for a corporate water grab.

One of the big boosters promoting the drought scare is Gov. Schwarzenegger, who declared a state of emergency in early 2009, and promised to reduce water deliveries across the state by a whopping 80 percent.

Such a huge cutback is alarming for a state in which most of the population lives hundreds of miles away from water sources and is dependent on a gargantuan aqueduct system for basic survival. Journalists in a wide range of publications have recently seized on this juicy disaster-in-progress story, hitting their readers with heavy-handed images of drought and suffering that seemed more in line with something filed on a UN humanitarian mission in Somalia than news from the heart of California.

Has the drought really been that bad? According to the November/December 2009 issue of Mother Jones, yes, it has: "[F]armers are selling prized almond trees for firewood, fields are reverting to weed, and farm workers who once fled droughts in Mexico are overwhelming food banks. In short, the valley is becoming what an earlier generation of refugees thought they'd escaped: an ecological catastrophe in the middle of a social and economic one -- a 21st century Dust Bowl." 60 Minutes' recent segment on California's water crisis agreed, proclaimed: "You don't have to go to Africa or the Middle East to see how much the planet is running dry. Just go to California."The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, McClatchy's, the Wall Street Journal -- all have sung the same tune.

When left, right, print, broadcast and mainstream media outlets agree, it has to be true, right? Well, not exactly. Here's what an end-of-the-year update published in November 2009 by the US Bureau of Reclamation had to say about the drought: precipitation in 2009 was about 94 percent of average in Northern California, which is the most important region for precipitation, since it is where three-quarters of the state's water comes from.

Ninety-four percent of average? That does not sound like severe drought conditions at all. But don't tell that to California's Department of Water Resources, which still has a huge DHS-style "Drought Condition Severe" orange alert plastered on its Web site.

The power of simple fact-checking aside, why would California officials exaggerate -- if not outright lie -- about the drought? Well, the issue here is less about the drought itself and more about what a drought -- real or not -- can help achieve. If there is one thing 2009 revealed about California's "action hero" governor, it's that he is eagerly willing to serve as the front man for the sleaziest, most crooked business cartel in the state: a de facto water oligarchy made up of billionaire corporate farmers who run vast stretches of the state like their own personal fiefdoms, exploiting migrant workers for slave labor and soaking the taxpayers for billions of dollars in subsidies every year. And like all good businessmen, they aren't letting a good mini-crisis go to waste. Their objective is to whip up fears of a drought-related calamity to push through a "solution" they've been having wet dreams about for the past five decades: a multi-billion-dollar aqueduct the width of the Panama Canal that would give them near total control of more than half of California's water supplies.

That's what the state's "historic" $11-billion bond measure that will appear on the November 2010 ballot is all about. A columnist at the Stockton Record said it best: It "really amounts to an old-fashioned California water grab based on the failure to face nature's limits."

In the convoluted world of California water politics, nothing is ever what it seems. And this time, it appears that even the most well-meaning of journalists fighting the good fight fell hook, line and sinker for the propaganda spun out by California's well-greased water oligarchy. But if everyone got something as basic as the premise of California's supposed water crisis -- the drought -- wrong, what else did they miss? Turns out, quite a bit. With no real drought in California, a lot of the myths, falsehoods and outright lies meant to stir up the masses might no longer makes sense. On the other hand, just because the state has rain doesn't mean the state can't run out water, not with the way corporate farmers are ramping up the pumping of the state's increasingly-overtapped water supplies. So here are the top five things your bullshit meter should be picking up:

Myth: Urban water conservation is key in protecting California's water resources

Schwarzenegger's mandate that urban water use be cut by 20 percent has earned the governor a lot of green cred, but few people realize that his plan for water conservation is actually a forced wealth transfer scheme in a environmentalist disguise. Conservation is a good idea, but it won't do much good for California, no matter how diligent residents are about turning off the tap while brushing or the number of low-flush toilets they install, not unless farmers are forced to conserve water as well.

It is a simple matter of discrimination. Why is the agricultural industry exempted from mandatory conservation when it consumes an unreal 80% of California's water? There won't be much conservation going on even if every living soul in California up and moves to another state. Because no matter how much water city dwellers save, it'll be sucked up by wealthy corporate farmers who are always on the lookout for more taxpayer-subsidized wet wealth. And with water trading for a minimum at ten times what they pay for it on the open market, every gallon a city dweller conserves will will end up as cash in the personal bank account of some wealthy corporate farmers. It's all part of the master plan because, even as the governor talks up urban conservation, he tries his darnedest to get them more water.

Myth: Irrigation water rationing is causing California's unemployment to spike to critical levels.

I could quote from a number of news sources -- Fox News, CBS, Mother Jones, the New York Times -- to demonstrate the pervasiveness of this bogus notion, but luckily there is no need because most of the stuff is oddly similar to the media spam cranked out by Governor Schwarzenegger's press secretary. Something like this: "[Drought] conditions are causing a loss of livelihood for many thousands of people, an inability to provide for families, and increased harm to the communities that depend on them . . . the Central Valley town of Mendota, as one example, already reports an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent and lines of a thousand or more for food distribution."

Had any journalist bothered to look up its unemployment rate for some other year, they would have seen that water has never been a factor. Over a decade ago, Mendota's unemployment normally ranged from 28 to 32 percent. In 1998, a wet year, it had an unemployment rate of 38 percent. In 2002, a slightly dry year, unemployment was still the same: 37.7 percent.

The chronic hardship seen in Mendota, and the much of the Central Valley, can not be neatly blamed on the weather. There are other bigger, more ominous forces at play here. Mendota is in a bad place, at once existing on the edge of America's poorest Congressional District and also in one of its wealthiest, most subsidized farming communities: the Westlands Water District. This is how Lloyd G. Carter, a veteran UPI reporter who has covered California's farming industry for three decades, describes it: "Rule is by the rich. Indeed, in Westlands, which is a public agency, the growers with the most land have the most votes in electing directors to the district's board. The late Justice William O. Douglas called this voting control by the big growers a corporate political kingdom undreamed of by those who wrote our Constitution."

To put it another way: the billionaire farmers who run Westlands like their own fiefdom have always liked to keep their labor costs down, preferring low-paid migrant workers to those who would register with the unemployment office.

Myth: The "drought" is hurting small, family farmers -- "the backbone of America" -- the most.

Small farmers are hurting, but rarely does it have anything to do with water rationing. You'll find gobs of farmer pity in just about every story filed on the Central Valley, but most forget to mention that the bulk of the land threatened by water shortages is owned by wealthy corporate farmers clustered in and around Westlands Water District, in the driest, hottest and most isolated corner of the Central Valley. Most of these "farmers" don't rise with the crow of the rooster, but fly in on private jets from Orange County and Beverly Hills. Most journalists, like the one who wrote a long rambling piece in the David Eggers special Bay Area newspaper production, Panorama, insist on painting scenes of family farm life in sentimental pastel while ignoring the agribiz moguls who really run the show.

But you get to meet one of the boys from Westlands doing his struggling farmer routine on 60 Minutes, giving viewers a walkthrough of his family-farm-in-crisis, explaining how the drought forced him to fallow some of his fields while, in the background, massive shredding trucks turned $18-million worth his almond trees into a neat pile of wood chips. The 60 Minutes segment, like most other farmer profiles, left out the stuff that would squelch any sympathy for their cause. Like the fact that the Woolf family clan operates the "biggest farming operation in Fresno County" that receives $4.2 million in taxpayer-subsidized water every year, enough to supply a city of 150,000 people. In the past decade, the dozen or so companies partially owned by Stuart Woolf have taken in roughly $8 million in federal crop subsidies. But Stuart Woolf still feels like he isn't getting enough. In 2008, he threatened a congressional subcommittee that he'd move his family's farm holdings to Portugal, Spain, Turkey and even China if the feds didn't give him more taxpayer-subsidized water.

Myth: Water shortages threaten to wipe out California's agricultural industry, causing a chain reaction that will cripple the state's economy and raise food prices around the country, maybe even the world.

It's true, a total meltdown of California's agricultural industry, the largest in the United States, would be bad news for everyone involved. But the problem with this apocalyptic domino effect, which pops up as a talking point on Schwarzneger's press releases and is parroted by the likes of Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal, is a pesky thing called reality. Most irrigation districts have been getting their water on schedule. And because the drought has only affected atiny sliver -- about two percent -- of California's total farmland, most of which happens to be some of the most heavily-subsidized growing operations in the state, any "multiplier effect" is bound to be limited, if noticeable at all.

Take Westlands Water District, where a sizable chunk of the state's fallowed farmland is concentrated. The district produces about $1 billion in gross income a year, $750 million of which is funded by water subsidies. Add to that hundreds of millions more in direct crop subsidies, and pretty soon the government ends up funding most, if not all of Westlands' economic output. Even if Westlands farmers weren't such welfare queens, it would be hard to get worked even if the entire old billionaire club went under. After all, their entire output amounts to one-half of one percent of California's $1.8 trillion. And we're not talking about missing out on vital crops here: who'd even notice an uptick in almond prices?

Myth: Big city environmentalists are making the drought more serious than it actually is.

In 2007, a federal judge limited the amount of water that could be pumped out of Northern California because it endangering a small, but important fish called the Delta smelt, which is now protected by the California Endangered Species Act. Ever since, California's wealthy Central Valley farmers -- including Westlands -- have staged a public relations war, blaming big city elitists for caring more about the environment than they do about American farmers. "Thanks to environmental regulations designed to protect the likes of the three-inch long delta smelt, one of America's premier agricultural regions is suffering in a drought made worse by federal regulations," pronounced a Wall Street Journal editorial in September 2009.

Fox News took the attack to a whole new level, with Sean Hannity proclaiming that President and his Royal Democratic-Socialist Guard were single-handedly killing off hardworking American farmers and demanded that the Obama "turn this water on now." The funny thing is that Obama had already done that, when the court-ordred pumping restrictions were lifted three months earlier.

The reason these farmers weren't getting their water had nothing to do with the fish, and all to do with their "junior" water rights and a bailout business mentality. In the past decade, farmers had lobbied for and received 30% more water than they did in the 1990s, knowingly taking a gamble by planting permanent, high-cost crops in an area first to suffer water cutbacks during dry times. But they did it anyway, fully expecting to get the government to keep delivering the water even in a time of drought, which it has. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, even the most junior water rights holders were receiving almost all of their water all throughout 2009.

Where has all that water gone? Well, some of the farmers have been selling it on the open market, frequently flipping their heavily taxpayer-subsidized water back to the government for twice the price. One millionaire farmer-cum-real-estate-developer made roughly $60 million selling his welfare water to a McTractHome paradise in the Mojave Desert, selling water was easier and more lucrative than farming.

Bonus myth: the drought has sparked a grassroots movement of farm owners and farm workers, uniting to pressure the government for more water.

Nothing exposes Arnold Schwarzenegger and his billionaire farmers backers for the sadistic slime balls that they are than the Latino Water Coalition, an astroturf group created by farming interests, paid for by taxpayer money and blessed by the governor himself. The group was designed to give a populist face to a purely corporate cause, paying poor Latino migrant workers to take part in protests staged for the benefit of Fox News' camera, even sent to go on a 5-day "March for Water" to draw attention to California farmers' plight and generally exploiting the exploited so that you can help you exploit them even more. But the worst part about it is that well-meaning journalists fell for it.



Yasha Levine is a freelance writer and editor of eXiledonline.
© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/144992/



RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - FastTadpole - 01-09-2010 12:07 AM

I had watched the Schwarzenegger heavy piece on 60 minutes showing a bunch on almond trees getting put to the fire. It seems very high on the California priority list but Environmental Protection laws especially that of the smelt in conflict of this policy and prohibiting access to reservoirs mainly those in the California delta.

Organizations such as the Water Keepers claim there is a very real danger of the delta becoming saline since the levy infrastructure is crumbling. Whatever the case I that particular issue warrants further investigation.

Thanks for introducing me to the other aspects of this issue that you'll never see on 60 minutes particularly the selling off of the welfare water back to the government and foriegn interests.

Meanwhile in Canada we're giving away a mind blowing amount of water to the states, in fact there is a giant crater of it being stored in the Rocky Mountains deemed fit for export. We are actually required to export this water under international agreements. I'll look more into this when I have time to reference some information sources properly.


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - h3rm35 - 01-31-2010 04:07 AM

Big Water Interests Hijack Obama Delta Science Team

news-26469.jpeg
news-26469.jpeg

Big Water Interests Hijack Obama Delta Science Team

by Dan Bacher

A scientific panel charged with reviewing federal plans to rebuild imperiled Central Valley salmon and Delta smelt populations has been “hijacked” by advocates of increased water pumping from the California Delta, fishing, tribal and environmental groups charge.

Fishermen and environmental justice advocates are alarmed that no coastal or Delta Representatives, commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, Indian Tribal leaders, Delta farmers and others who are directly impacted by the collapse of Central Valley salmon and other fish populations are being asked to testify before the panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

The team of scientists empanelled by the NAS begins a five-day meeting on Sunday, January 24 at the University of California, Davis. The federal fish restoration plans (biological opinion) under review are strongly opposed by western San Joaquin Valley corporate agribusiness, southern California land speculators and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“The NAS panel came about after one of the biggest corporate agricultural operators in the San Joaquin Valley, Stewart Resnick, asked Senator Diane Feinstein to request the review and earmark $750,000 in taxpayer funds to make it happen,” according to Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA).

Feinstein and the Obama administration complied with Resnick’s request to reexamine the biological opinion after Resnick sent a letter to Feinstein on September 4. In the letter, Resnick claimed that the biological opinion to prevent endangered salmon and smelt from becoming extinct was “exacerbating the state’s severe drought” because it reduced the water available to irrigate farmland. He claimed that “sloppy science” by federal fishery agencies had led to “regulatory-induced water shortages.” “I really appreciate your involvement in this issue,” Resnick stated.

Resnick, a major campaign contributor to leading California politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties, has made tens of millions of dollars from buying public water on the cheap and reselling it back to the state at substantial profit. He has contributed heavily to the campaigns of Senator Feinstein, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Governor Schwarzenegger.

Resnick is a Beverly Hills billionaire, philanthropist and major political donor whose companies, including Paramount Farms, own more than 115,000 acres of land in Kern County, according to the Contra Costa Times. The “limousine liberal” also owns Westside Mutual Water Company in Bakersfield, which has taken control of the formerly public Kern Water Bank. Other companies that Resnick and his wife, Lynda, own include POM Wonderful, Teleflora, the nation’s largest floral wire service, FIJI Water, and Suterra, a pesticide company.

Resnick’s agricultural companies, based in Kern County, Kings, Tulare, and Fresno Counties, comprise the largest farming operation of tree crops in the world, processing citrus fruit, pomegranates, almonds, and pistachios.

Is the Obama Administration Repeating the Same Blunders As the Bush Regime?

Grader said the strategy of getting the NAS to review salmon restoration plans was first used by then Vice President Dick Cheney when federal plans in 2001 restricted the water diverted by agribusiness in the upper Klamath River in an effort to protect threatened salmon from extinction during drought.

“The Cheney strategy was to have a rushed NAS review identify enough areas of scientific uncertainty that the salmon restoration measures might be cast in doubt,” said Grader. “Six months later, the resulting change in the federal water plans on the Klamath helped spark the biggest adult salmon kill in Western U.S. history.”

Over 68,000 salmon perished in the unprecedented environmental disaster, spurred by warm, low water conditions on the Klamath at the height of the fall salmon spawning run.

“The good news is the science is solid behind this salmon rebuilding plan,” Grader stated. “The truth supports salmon fishermen who have been warning that too much water is being taken from the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary and its salmon. Those who covet the water needed to keep our salmon and the Delta alive are piling on to sway the NAS panel against salmon conservation.”

“The federal National Marine Fisheries Service did a good job developing the salmon restoration plan. The NAS panel will also hear at length from the federal fish scientists who put this plan together, which is good,” added Grader.

The Delta is the largest and most important estuary on the West Coast of the Americas and provides habitat and a migratory pathway between Central Valley streams and the Golden Gate for the West Coast’s second largest salmon run. The chinook (king) salmon of the Central Valley that depend on the Delta are the “backbone” of ocean salmon fisheries off California and Oregon, according to Grader.

However, the NAS panel will also hear from U.S. Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno, CA and a representative of U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza of Merced, CA, who are the Democratic Party “water boys” for corporate agribusiness.

“Both Congressmen are well-known proponents of maximizing water diversions from the Delta,” emphasized Grader. “Both are strong advocates for corporate San Joaquin Valley agriculture operations and their quest for ever-more northern California water from the Delta. Western San Joaquin growers and their Congressional representatives have overlooked or belittled clear evidence that Delta water withdrawals have exceeded the ecological carrying capacity of the Delta.”

Grader said twice before Western San Joaquin interests and developers have pressured sitting California governors to quash scientific information and findings by the State Water Board – in 1988 and again in 1993 – because the science indicated water exports from the Delta would have to be reduced in order to save the Delta, its fish, and the economies that rely on the health of the estuary.

The water exporters have further refused to acknowledge the economic damage done to Oregon and California’s multi-billion dollar sport and commercial salmon fishery caused by the excessive water withdrawals from the Delta.

“Why weren’t our congressional representatives that represent the coastal communities invited to address this group? We’ve been reeling from two consecutive years of no salmon fishing, and our voices deserve to be heard,” said Larry Collins, a San Francisco-based commercial salmon fishermen.

While commercial salmon fishermen aren’t even represented on the witness list, the NAS, in a bizarre move, has invited a representative of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, which studies skipjack and yellowfin tuna populations, to testify before the pane. These deep sea fish breed in Mexico and in warm years are sometimes found as far north as Point Conception in Santa Barbara.

“It is ridiculous to suggest that the West Coast’s largest salmon run can be replaced by increased fishing of skipjack tuna in Southern California,” quipped Grader. “This leads me to question whether the Department of the Interior is serious about restoring the West Coast salmon fishery and the thousands of lost jobs in coastal communities in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington.”

Delta Residents, Fishermen and Tribes Are Insulted by Exclusion from Panel Testimony

The NAS will also hear from a representative of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that supports increased transfer of water from the Delta, where it’s needed to keep Delta farms and fish thriving, to new residential developments in southern California. The NAS panel will also hear from water transfer advocate B.J. Miller, an independent consultant who has made a career representing many of the largest water agencies in California.

Miller, who is listed on the panel as a “consultant,” is expected to testify that he has found no correlation between Delta smelt populations and Delta pumping, according to the fishing and environmental groups. Miller has no University affiliations and his research has never been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. He has been listed as a “Consulting Engineer” for agricultural groups, including the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, a major beneficiary of Delta pumping.

“The panel has also unexplainably invited testimony from Scott Hamilton who is with a group called Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, which is anything but,” said Grader. “This group is housed in Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms in Kern County.”

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is one of four “Astroturf” groups – front organizations set up by big business and water agencies to portray themselves as “grassroots” groups – lobbying for increased pumping of northern California and Delta water to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness and southern California.

“This is an insult to Delta residents who will be most affected by the decisions of this panel,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of Restore the Delta. “Delta farmers and Delta cities rely on water from the Delta, which has suffered from water quality problems from overpumping in previous years. The collapse of Delta fish populations has also severely impacted the Delta’s and California Coastal commercial, sportfishing and tourism industries, to say nothing of the natural environment. Neither Restore the Delta staff, nor any of its 4500 members were invited to testify before the panel.”

Mark Franco, headman of the Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe, said the exclusion of tribal representation from the panel testimony is “a continuation of the past 150 plus years of denial that tribal people have a right to discuss the protection of this states resources.”

“By not including a tribal perspective of the connectedness of all parts of the environment, plans will be made and years of hard work by all of us will be wasted while the delta and the rivers connected to it are destroyed,” Franco stated. “When will the government leaders wake up and see that we who have lived in these areas for centuries know what the past brought and the future holds? As Florence Jones, our spiritual leader, said, ‘We all just can’t be dumb and die.’”

Franco was hopeful that someone from the tribal communities impacted will be able to speak at these “government sanctioned circuses.”

Representatives of fishing, tribal and environmental groups wonder whether these industry groups even belong as “expert witnesses” at a hearing for an “independent scientific review” of the biological opinion determining freshwater flows needed to restore salmon, smelt, and other species of fish.

“We had expected better from the current administration,” said Byron Leydecker of Friends of the Trinity River. ” Seeing that the National Academy of Science review will be an extended process, we hope that representatives from the salmon industry, Delta communities and the independent, University-affiliated biologists who are studying the decline of Delta fish populations will be given an equal opportunity to testify in the near future.”

A Political Farce Disguised as “Science”

I have called and emailed representatives from the National Academy of Sciences. However, I haven’t yet received any response to my question as to why big agribusiness and water district officials have been invited to testify before the science panel, but no coastal or Delta Representatives, fishermen, Delta farmers, California Indian tribal members or environmental justice communities have been asked to speak before the panel.

I am appalled that Feinstein, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and the Obama administration have agreed to conduct a political farce under the guise of “science.” The irony is that the biological opinion that is being “reviewed” by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a plan that a federal judge ordered rewritten under the Bush administration. Now the Obama administration is doing a review of court-ordered biological opinion that was started under the Bush administration!

Doesn’t that put the Obama administration to the environmental right of the Bush administration, since it was the re-written biological opinion begun under the Bush administration that “limousine liberal” Stewart Resnick and southern California water interests are challenging because it is “too protective” of salmon, smelt and other fish?

The same agribusiness and southern California interests that are pushing for the gutting of Endangered Species Act protections for salmon and smelt are campaigning for the construction of a peripheral canal and new dams. These big water interests collaborated with Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to ram a water policy/water bond package through the Legislature in November 2009 that creates a clear path to the construction of a peripheral canal and Temperance Flat and Sites reservoirs.

If the canal is built, fish advocates believe that it will result in pushing Sacramento River winter run and spring run chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and southern resident killer whales over the edge of extinction. For more information, go to http://www.calsport.org or http://www.restorethedelta.org.


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - FastTadpole - 01-31-2010 04:21 AM

Good info in this article. This is the first I hear of the salmon crisis, it was only smelt before and it was presented as a "little fish holding back the potential water supply" on 60 minutes. This article doesn't mention the crumbling levies nor the massive subsidies to the big farmers and how they sell off their excess water for profit.

Now with the levies this could be just a slick photo-op by 60 minutes to get some leverage for more subsidy or it is a real problem because if there were a hurricane a huge portion of the delta would become saline overnight. I don't know what to believe but if it really were that big of a problem agribusiness would have likely stepped in by now and been proactive unless they are that cheap that they would jeopardize their water supply and use it as a pawn to extort state money.

Thoughts?


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - Melchor - 01-31-2010 05:20 AM

(01-31-2010 04:21 AM)FastTadpole Wrote:  Good info in this article. This is the first I hear of the salmon crisis, it was only smelt before and it was presented as a "little fish holding back the potential water supply" on 60 minutes. This article doesn't mention the crumbling levies nor the massive subsidies to the big farmers and how they sell off their excess water for profit.

Now with the levies this could be just a slick photo-op by 60 minutes to get some leverage for more subsidy or it is a real problem because if there were a hurricane a huge portion of the delta would become saline overnight. I don't know what to believe but if it really were that big of a problem agribusiness would have likely stepped in by now and been proactive unless they are that cheap that they would jeopardize their water supply and use it as a pawn to extort state money.

Thoughts?

Isn't that levee system smack in the middle of the California fault lines?


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - FastTadpole - 01-31-2010 05:34 AM

(01-31-2010 05:20 AM)Melchor Wrote:  
(01-31-2010 04:21 AM)FastTadpole Wrote:  Good info in this article. This is the first I hear of the salmon crisis, it was only smelt before and it was presented as a "little fish holding back the potential water supply" on 60 minutes. This article doesn't mention the crumbling levies nor the massive subsidies to the big farmers and how they sell off their excess water for profit.

Now with the levies this could be just a slick photo-op by 60 minutes to get some leverage for more subsidy or it is a real problem because if there were a hurricane a huge portion of the delta would become saline overnight. I don't know what to believe but if it really were that big of a problem agribusiness would have likely stepped in by now and been proactive unless they are that cheap that they would jeopardize their water supply and use it as a pawn to extort state money.

Thoughts?

Isn't that levee system smack in the middle of the California fault lines?

Here's the delta:
http://www.deltaboating.com/about.htm

Here's the fault:
https://www.llnl.gov/str/Sep06/gifs/Rodgers5.jpg


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - h3rm35 - 02-28-2010 01:15 AM

Senator Feinstein Teams Up With Billionaire Farmers And Corporate Raiders To Mount Hostile Takeover of California’s Water
By Yasha Levine
[Image: ak47_5a1-470x382.jpg]
Tommy Feinstein

This story was first published on Alternet.org

California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein showed Californians who she really serves this past Thursday, when news emerged that she was trying to ram through a massive transfer of precious water out of the hands of millions of state residents, and into the private pockets of a clique of billionaire corporate farmers.

Here’s how the San Francisco Chronicle described the swindle:

Feinstein wants to attach the proposal as an amendment to a fast-tracked Senate jobs bill. She is pitching the plan as a jobs measure to address the economic calamity in the Central Valley. It would increase farm water allocations from 10 percent last year to 40 percent this year and next, an amount that farmers say is the bare minimum they need.

Bay Area Democrats were livid, accusing Feinstein of concocting the plan in secret, upending fragile water negotiations that Feinstein has supported and pitting California’s Central Valley against its coast.

According to McClatchy, the amendment had been around for some time, and had already gone through numerous drafts when it was discovered. They were right to be upset. The water transfer would decimate Northern California’s already fragile ecosystem, threaten endangered species of fish and decrease its scarce drinking water supply.

Water is a sacred issue in California that one day will surely lead to a North-South showdown that could get ugly. Any major change in the state’s water policy is so fraught with danger and consequences, that it makes negotiations over how to divide it a long and difficult process. In our imperfect democratic system, this is how we resolve the most difficult problems we face, when different communities have so much at stake. Feinstein apparently decided that democracy wasn’t in her interests–or the interests of the rich corporate farmers she serves–so she is trying to circumvent the whole process by sneaking through legislation before anyone can figure it out. For Californians, it was an act of treason, putting the interests of Big Agro above the needs of millions of people who think she represents them. Feinstein was born and raised in San Francisco, where she rose to political prominence; now, she’s screwing her hometown region most of all.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, attacked Feinstein’s move: “Best I can see, she’s making a decision that jobs in the Bay Area and Northern California and the Peninsula south of San Francisco aren’t as important as jobs in the Central Valley [which has a fraction of the Bay Area's population].”

Feinstein’s sneakiness has something to do with serving Stewart Resnick, a Beverly Hills billionaire and one of the richest men in California. Resnick owns Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful, pesticide manufacturer Suterra and Paramount Agribusiness, the largest farming company in America and the largest pistachio and almond producer in the world. Resnick is also the brain behind a little-known water privatization scheme that brought Enron-style deregulation and privatization to California’s water market and made him one of the largest, if not the largest, private water brokers in America. He also happens to be friend and major contributor to Feinstein’s political career.

Lately he’s been putting pressure on the Senator to badger the Obama administration into loosening environmental regulations and releasing more water to California’s farmers. Feinstein complied, even handing a letter written by Resnick directly over to the White House. News of this sleazy influence-peddling sparked a closer look at Feinstein’s dealings with Resnick:

Wealthy corporate farmer Stewart Resnick has written check after check to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s political campaigns. He’s hosted a party in her honor at his Beverly Hills mansion, and he’s entertained her at his second home in Aspen.

And in September, when Resnick asked Feinstein to weigh in on the side of agribusiness in a drought-fueled environmental dispute over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, this wealthy grower and political donor got quick results, documents show.

Thanks to his generous relationship with Dianne Feinstein, a corporate farmer is successfully crusading against environmental preservation in California.

Feinstein wasn’t bothered a bit by the negative press. Anyone who followed her senate career knows she is the queen of insider relationships, marrying politics with big business, it’s something that comes naturally to a hard-hearted career politician married into the world of ruthless businessmen, bankers and corporate sharks.

Her husband of 30 years, Richard Blum, is a classic cutthroat corporate raider who made billions in hostile takeovers, buying up companies, then stripping and selling off their assets and skipping away with the profits. Blum kept some infamous company, including junk bond conman Michael Milken, who was jailed for his crime. Blum has been the subject of several media investigations into how he has profited handsomely from his wife’s political power.

In one of the scandals, Feinstein created a law that happened to steer a lot of easy taxpayer money toward her husband’s business:

On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.

Then there was an even bigger scandal linking Feinstein to war profiteering in Iraq:

As chairperson and ranking member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee from 2001 through the end of 2005, Feinstein supervised the appropriation of billions of dollars a year for specific military construction projects. Two defense contractors whose interests were largely controlled by her husband, financier Richard C. Blum, benefited from decisions made by Feinstein as leader of this powerful subcommittee.

A crooked politician like Feinstein prefers doing deals like this out of the public eye, just like her corporate raider husband, so her attempt to secretly force through an unpopular law onto her constituency is just business as usual. Republicans sneer at her for being a San Francisco liberal, but her actual record shows that she’s about as much a liberal as Paul Bremer, privatizing by the closest thing to a decree, while talking up democracy. What’s good for the people does not matter. It’s all about stripping public wealth and privatizing state assets for maximum profit—so long as it goes to her husband’s friends.

And she’s becoming more brazen, fleecing us right out in the open with no fear of repercussion. Why should she care? It’s not like California’s voters have the power not to reelect her.

This story was first published on Alternet.org

Yasha Levine is a mobile home inhabitin’ editor of The eXiled. He is currently stationed in Victorville, CA. You can reach him at levine [at] exiledonline.com


RE: California Bond Opens Door to Corporate Control of Water - h3rm35 - 03-11-2010 12:17 AM

The Business of Water: Privatizing An Essential Resource

March 10, 2010

in Analysis

By Stephen Lendman

(The Intelligence Daily) – In her 2002 book titled, “Water Wars,” noted author, social activist, and ecologist Vandana Shiva called privatizing water:

– ecological terrorism;

– a global water crisis;

– along with overuse, waste and pollution, it can cause “the most pervasive, most severe, and most invisible dimension of the ecological devastation of the earth;”

– the road to “an ecological crisis with commercial causes but no market solutions; (they) destroy the earth and aggravate inequality; the solution to an ecological crisis is ecological, and the solution for injustice is democracy;” and

– water rights are natural and “usufructuary….water can be used but not owned;” it belongs to everyone as part of the commons as an essential “basis of all life….under customary laws, the right to water has been accepted as a natural, social fact.”

Shiva lists nine water democracy principles:

(1) it’s nature’s gift;

(2) it’s essential to life;

(3) “life is interconnected through water;”

(4) it must be free “for sustenance needs;”

(5) it’s limited and exhaustible;

(6) it must be conserved;

(7) it’s a commons;

(8) “no one has a right to overuse, abuse, waste, pollute,” or own it; it belongs to everyone; it can’t be treated as a commodity; and

(9) there’s no substitute.

Corporate profiteers have other ideas and, since 1997, have met triennially at the World Water Forum (WWF) to discuss privatizing water globally in coordination with the World Water Council (WWC). It’s dominated by two of the world’s largest water companies, Suez and Veolia, as well as the World Bank, other financial interests, UN bodies, and powerful interest groups representing business and world nations.

WWC’s agenda is profits through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) wanting to privatize global water resources, sell them to the highest bidder, promote destructive dam and water diversion projects, extort high prices, and make an element of life available only to those who can afford it.

Their scheme involves controlling city/municipal/community distribution as well as stealing public water, bottling it, selling it at exorbitant prices, and claiming it’s pure when, in fact, it’s no safer than tap water.

In fact, a 1990s four year National Resources Defense Council study on the bottled water industry found “major gaps in bottled water regulation and conclude(d) that bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water.” Using independent labs, it tested over 1,000 bottles of 103 brands and found:

– one-third contained “significant contamination (i.e. levels of chemical or bacterial contaminants exceeding those allowed under a state or industry standard or guideline);” and

– contaminants found in some but not all samples tested included excessive coliform bacteria, synthetic organic compounds (such as toluene, xylene, styrene and others), flouride, phthalate, arsenic, nitrates, and other inorganic contaminants.

It’s no wonder, given the weakness of federal standards and little regulatory oversight.

People Advocates

The People’s Water Forum (WWF) advocates for global water justice, calling it a “basic element of all life (and) a fundamental and inalienable human right.” It rejects all forms of privatization, demanding water be “public, social, cooperative, participatory, equitable, and not for profit.” It calls for “the democratic and sustainable management of ecosystems and the preservation of the water cycle through the protection and proper management of watersheds and environment.” It says commodifying water harms the world’s poor, and wants privatized utilities reclaimed for equitable public use.

Some Key Water Facts

Available in lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers, freshwater is scarce, comprising only 0.008% of the global total. It’s unevenly distributed. Around 90% of what’s drinkable is groundwater. About 70% is locked in ice caps, less than 1% readily available. The Great Lakes contain about 84% of North America’s surface fresh water and 21% of the world’s supply. About 13% is in Brazil. Other water rich countries include Canada, Russia, China, Indonesia and Colombia.

One-third of the world’s population lives in “water-stressed” countries. Over two-thirds have no access to clean water, and an estimated 25,000 people die daily as a result. The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes contaminated water to 80% of all sickness and disease worldwide. In the last decade alone, the number of children killed by avoidable diarrhea illnesses exceeded the death toll from all armed conflicts since WW II. Every eight seconds, a child dies from contaminated water.

More freshwater is stored in the ground than in liquid form on the surface. Scientists have discovered a vast water reservoir beneath East Asia, at least the equivalent of the Arctic Ocean, so far untapped. Up to now, no shortages exist, but overuse, pollution, and waste will create them. Water is limited, exhaustible when poorly managed, and there’s no substitute.

Irrigation consumes the most because agribusiness uses ten times what comparable ecological farming needs. Much of what’s available is lost through pollution, overuse, and waste. Conservation and keeping it out of corporate hands is vital to human health, well-being, and sustainability.

One Report Highlights Privatization Dangers

Food & Water Watch advocates for economic and environmental sustainability through research, the media, public outreach and education, including lobbying for safe, wholesome food as well as public control of groundwater, oceans, lakes and rivers.

In February 2009, it published a report titled, “Money Down the Drain: How Private Control of Water Wastes Public Resources.” It covers corporate efforts to convince cash-starved communities to privatize their water and wastewater systems, saying it’s how to raise vital revenue, be more efficient, and the best way to upgrade facilities at low cost. The facts prove otherwise:

– because of financing costs, taxes, high executive pay, expected profits, and numerous other factors, privatization is expensive and irresponsible;

– private utilities charge up to 80% more for water and 100% more for sewer service;

– costs are contained by downsizing workforces, destroying unions, relying on cheap labor, using shoddy construction materials, deferring maintenance, and backlogging service requests to focus all efforts on profits.

Cities belatedly learn that public control delivers better, cheaper, faster, more reliable service and happier customers. Food & Water Watch concluded that:

Privatization is not a sustainable model or a way to rejuvenate community water systems. “From high costs and inefficiency to unaccountable and irresponsible operators, a deluge of problems has swamped communities that turned to the private sector. Corporations prioritize earnings over quality, and stockholders over consumers. They seek good returns by cutting corners, neglecting maintenance and hiking rates.”

Privatization is the problem, not the solution to protect our valuable water resources and distribute them equitably to everyone at a reasonable cost. “Public money for public utilities is the best way….to ensure clean, safe and affordable water for generations to come.” It also preserves higher paying jobs and the right of workers to organize. Irresponsible profiteers operate otherwise.

Social activist Maude Barlow chairs the Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest citizens organization advocating for numerous economic and social issues, including Canadian independence, progressive policies, energy security, and publicly controlled clean water.

She explains that future peace or peril depends on whether water is commodified or a public good, saying dwindling freshwater supplies, inequitable access, and corporate control “have created a life-or-death situation across the planet.”

Schemes to shift water from one ecosystem to another for profit are a human rights and environmental nightmare. Private solutions are the problem, not the solution to equitable distribution, conservation, and sustainability.

However, American and Canadian governments have other ideas, having “decided that water is not a public good but a private resource that must be secured by whatever means” to control who gets it, at what price, and who doesn’t. These countries lead efforts to block international attempts to recognize water as a human right.

In a July 2007 article titled, “The Militarization and Annexation of North America,” this writer discussed one way – by integrating America, Canada and Mexico through the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), or North American Union.

Launched in March 2005, it’s for greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social, and security integration with secretive working groups devising binding agreements legislatures can’t change.

If achieved, it will militarily enforce a corporate coup d’etat against the sovereignty of three nations, their people and legislative bodies, the idea being a US-controlled North America with no trade or capital flow barriers. Especially key will be America’s unlimited access to Canadian and Mexican resources, mainly oil from both countries and Canadian water.

Efforts paused during the Bush to Obama transition, but deep integration plans remain, the grand goal being a single global marketplace under a one world government and much more, including ending social justice and democratic rule, a very ugly future if achieved.

Efforts to Preserve Water as a Right

Organizations like the Council of Canadians, the Blue Planet Project (founded by Barlow), Food & Water Watch and others are fighting back to preserve water as a right, keep it out of corporate hands, and stop countries like Canada from agreeing to bulk exports to America when preserving enough for domestic needs is vital. Although Canada is water rich, it must conserve its surplus quantities, given its own growing needs. But plans are being made to divert them.

Selling Bulk Canadian Water to America

A January 2006 Canadian Press article, titled “Pressure to export water to US could grow” quoted former US ambassador to Canada, Paul Celluci, saying:

“Canada has probably one of the largest resources of fresh water in the world.” Unmentioned was America’s aim – control to privatize it, Celluci saying it’s “odd (that) Canada is so willing to sell oil and natural gas and uranium and coal (but) talking about water is off the table, and water is renewable.”

True enough when conserved and responsibly managed, but short of that, freshwater supplies are dwindling, and inequitable access for billions has created a global water crisis.

Celluci’s comment was as close as “any high-profile American (had) come to (admitting) what many Canadians have long suspected – Washington wants our water.”

In fact, Maclean’s magazine ran a cover story arguing that Canada should sell it before America takes it. Responsible Canadians disagree, citing among other factors, the threat confronting western Canada. The most important Prairie rivers are fed by mountain glaciers, and they’re melting at an alarming rate. The British science journal, Nature, noted that “The consequences of these hydrological changes for water availability….are likely to be severe.”

Cities like Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon risk losing their rivers altogether or enough to cause serious harm. According to Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences:

“Its a huge problem. These glaciers are basically toast. They won’t be around by the end of the century, or they’ll be around in such insignificant amounts that it won’t be a big source of water. You’ve got to start thinking about adaptation here.”

Tim Barnett of La Jolla, CA’s Scripps Institution called them “fossil water and when it’s gone, it’s gone. If you really are glacier-fed in a warming world, you’re up the creek without a paddle, no pun intended.”

Maude Barlow agrees calling a dwindling global water supply the new century’s most threatening ecological, economic and political crisis, one not properly being addressed.

“There is no water (surplus) in the Great Lakes. The only place one could go (for what’s needed) is up north and all those rivers are flowing north, so you’d have to be undertaking huge engineering projects to reverse the flow” (south). So this notion that we have lots of water sitting around is absolutely false.”

Barlow and others worry whether Canada can ban bulk exports because WTO and NAFTA define water as a tradable good. NAFTA also calls it an investment, and a provision in the agreement requires “proportional sharing” of energy resources.

America considers water among them so could cite Canada for a violation if it won’t sell. In addition, under NAFTA’s Chapter 11, US corporations could sue for financial losses. In 2001, a California company sued the Canadian government for $10.5 billion because British Columbia banned commercial bulk water exports.

WTO provisions prohibit export controls for any “good” that by definition includes water. Imposing them could be challenged as a non-tariff barrier – even for sound environmental reasons and a resource as vital as water.

Under NAFTA’s Article 309, similar to GATT’s Article XI, contracting parties are prohibited from restricting the export of goods. At issue is whether water is a “good,” but WTO says it is. Further, the US Supreme Court ruled water an article of interstate commerce.

In Sporhase v. Nebraska ex. rel. Douglas (1882), the Court called a Nebraska law prohibiting commercial water exports unconstitutional under the dormant commerce clause – a legal doctrine inferred from the Commerce Clause in the Constitution’s Article I, expressly granting Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, not the states.

The Court called groundwater an article of interstate commerce subject to congressional regulation. Since none prohibit it, profiteers can sell it like toothpaste, toys, or tomatoes.

Worse still, WTO and NAFTA provisions are supernational, overriding national laws on trade, rendering protective ones null and void. Water is thus a tradable commodity, no different from others, unless new provisions replace existing ones.

What the Supreme Court ruled for interstate commerce, NAFTA and WTO did for international trade, so it’s unclear how to stop it even though one argument could be that water in its natural state (in lakes, rivers and underground) hasn’t become a tradable good, and GATT’s Article XX prescribes “natural resources” exceptions to treaty obligations that might let WTO members control water exports for environmental protection.

Yet the language is vague, and GATT/WTO decisions interpret Article XX to mean limited and conditional ones, placing a heavy burden of proof on parties invoking them, thus pitting a nation’s right to protect its environment and control its water against the rules of international trade. So far, corporate profiteers have the upper hand, especially since America, Canada, and many other nations go along.

But as Maude Barlow wrote in her book “Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water:”

The “global justice movement is demanding a change in international law to settle once and for all the question of who controls water. It must be commonly understood that water is not a commercial good….but rather a human right and a public trust.” Binding law is needed to codify it to obligate all nations “to deliver sufficient, safe, accessible and affordable water to their citizens as a public service.”

Corporate control must be prevented, and global water justice efforts must take the lead. Various initiatives globally are making headway. “Momentum is growing everywhere for a right whose time has come,” but it won’t arrive easily up against powerful opposition.

Stealing Canada’s Water Wealth

Canadian attorney John Carten runs the web site waterwarcrimes.com, covering the plan to highjack Canadian water, involving powerful insiders trying to make billions of dollars through bulk water exports, some entirely illegal.

A feature article headlines: “The Politicians Plan to Steal Canada’s Water Resource Wealth,” explaines that Canada has abundant water, especially in Quebec in the East, and British Columbia (BC) in the West. The temptation to profiteer is overwhelming. The way chosen is by monopoly control, “the investors behind the bulk water export business hatch(ing) a bold and devious two step plan:

1. Obtain a source of abundant water for export from the British Columbia Government.

2. Use the environmental movement and the public media in Canada to (ensure that) policy makers in the Governments of Canada and British Columbia” ban competition.

Targeted was “the joint venture project of two small companies, one American, Sun Belt Water Inc. based in Santa Barbara, California, and one Canadian, Snowcap Waters Ltd. based in Fanny Bay, BC and the small Vancouver based company, Aquasource Ltd.”

Investors established WCW Western Canada Water Enterprises Ltd. to run things, hired PR flacks and corrupted environmentalists to hype fear about unrestricted bulk water exports, so the solution was prohibiting it with an exception – the rights WCW already had giving it an exclusive franchise.

“The plan was brilliant, it was devious, and it would have been hugely profitable, and incidentally, tax free for many of the (political and business) insiders who held their interests offshore.” They acquired an exclusive license to export “fresh water taken from….behind the dam at Ocean Falls on terms that were completely illegal – courtesy of insiders” in the BC government.

Next comes transporting it to America, using supertankers to deliver it 1,500 miles south to southern California and northern Mexico. However, they’re limited, expensive, can only service coastal areas, and they can’t deliver enough “to satisfy the long term solution to the water issues of the American southwest and Mexico,” given the population size and substantial commercial needs.

Eliminating competition also involved “brib(ing) the governing political Social Credit Party (to get the BC government) under the leadership of Bill Vander Zalm (to create) a multitude of regulatory hurdles in the path of the competitors that slowed them down but did not completely kill them so, eventually the Government used brute force (in addition to violating) the Canada US Free Trade Agreement, the GATT and the Water Act (to impose) the illegal moratorium on bulk water exports that denied all competitors the ability” to get a license.

It failed because:

– it was illegal;

– WCW became greedy and tried “to gouge the first US customer, the Goleta Water District, by pricing its water at 50% more than the American competitor, Sun Belt Water Inc;” and

– Canadian political and business insiders “announced that Sun Belt (wouldn’t get) access” to Canada’s water; only WCW could supply it.

Sun Belt collapsed. Goleta refused to do business with WCW, and after a few years it went bankrupt “although it had raised over $100 million to finance its business” and had powerful backers.

A cover-up followed that was bogus on its face, including claiming a bulk water export business wasn’t viable, when, in fact, California planned far more costly desalinization efforts that “use horrendous amounts of energy, create huge environmental issues with salt residues and produces a vastly inferior brand of water with so much mineral content that it is not healthy to drink on a long-term basis.”

The North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA) plans to revive the scheme through a new way to export Canadian and Alaskan water to the American southwest and northern Mexico.

Its web site describes it as:

“a project for diverting to the western US and northwestern Mexico water from rivers in Alaska and Canada which now flow into the Arctic Ocean. In addition to providing irrigation water to arid parts of North America, NAWAPA would also generate considerable amounts of power and provide some subsidiary benefits such as stabilizing the level of the Great Lakes.”

“The project was formulated by the Los Angeles engineering firm of Ralph M. Parsons Company (to) deliver 120 million acre-feet of water annually; 78 million to the US; 22 million to Canada, and 20 million to Mexico.”

About 85% of the water would go to agribusiness that already consumes more than its share, causing growing shortages for others. NAWAPA doesn’t explain, but its scheme involves privatizing a public resource, using it wastefully, and exploiting it at a cost far more than what governments would charge. It also about stealing Alaskan and Canadian water, aided by corrupted politicians, the way giant businesses always operate in America, Canada and most elsewhere when governments go along the old fashioned way – bought and paid for through political bribes.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net .