Brown celebrates John Muir Day as he fast-tracks peripheral canal

 John Muir

by Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown issued a proclamation Saturday celebrating John Muir Day – at the same time he is fast-tracking the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnel that is expected to hasten the extinction of Central Valley chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species.

“John Muir (1838-1914) was a giant of a man,” Brown proclaimed. “His vision of the pristine landscape as a source of spiritual renewal has become central to our understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature.”

“In addition to his scientific discoveries, engineering innovations and writings that still inspire us today, Muir’s advocacy was instrumental in the creation of the National Park System, one of the world’s great ecological treasures,” Brown continued.

“Today, as a way to honor Muir’s teachings and help keep his legacy alive, I suggest a visit to one of California’s public open spaces—national park, state park or any other unspoiled wilderness—which he strived so zealously to preserve,” said Brown.

While Brown celebrated Brown’s legacy, his record to date in his third term as governor is hardly one that Muir would approve. Brown has signed a couple of good bills for ocean fisheries, including a bill limiting the number of crab pots used by commercial fishermen and legislation banning the sale of shark fins in California, and signed the Human Right to Water bill package that Arnold Schwarzenegger repeatedly vetoed.

However, on the biggest and most controversial issues regarding our oceans, estuaries and freshwater resources, Brown has been firmly on the side of corporate interests that seek to privatize and exploit public trust resources.

First, the Governor presided over record water exports out of the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, and a record fish kill at the state and federal pumps in 2011. A record number of 8,989,639 native Sacramento splittail were “salvaged” in the Delta pumps in order to ship record amounts of water to southern California and corporate agribusiness. The annual splittail “salvage” number is 1,201,585 fish, according to the Bay Institute’s report, Collateral Damage, http://bay.org/publications/collateral-damage

By comparison, the average salvage total for all species combined is 9,237,444 fish, including splittail, striped bass, threadfin shad, largemouth bass, American shad and largemouth bass, as well as imperiled Sacramento River chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon, and longfin smelt.

The report emphasized that “Salvage numbers drastically underestimate the actual impact. Although the exact numbers are uncertain, it is clear that tens of millions of fish are killed each year, and only a small fraction of this is reflected in the salvage numbers that are reported.” One study of “pre-screen loss” estimated that as many as 19 of every 20 fish perished before being counted (Castillo, 2010).

The annual export total was 6,678,000 acre-feet of water in 2011, 208,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,470,000 acre-feet set in 2005. The total includes 4.003 million acre-feet through the Banks Pumping Plant of the State Water Project (SWP), 2.570 million acre-feet through the Jones Pumping Plant of the Central Valley Project (CVP), 69 thousand acre-feet through the Contra Costa Canal (CVP) and 37 thousand acre-feet through the North Bay Aqueduct (SWP).

Killing record numbers of fish and exporting record amounts of water from the Delta is something John Muir would vociferously condemn.

Second, the Governor has fast-tracked the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral canal to export more water to southern California and corporate agribusiness. If built, this canal will likely result in the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species.

The construction of the canal will only spread the carnage of fish that takes place daily at the Delta pumps from the South Delta to the Sacramento River, the main migratory path for chinook salmon, steelhead, striped bass, American shad and other fish.

How can we expect the state water contractors, who have failed to fund the installation of state-of-the art fish screens on the current Delta pumps as required under the CalFed decision, to fund state-of-the-art fish screens for the new intakes for the canal/tunnel to reduce fish mortality?

Would Muir support a peripheral canal, a budget-busting and Delta-draining project that would cause enormous environmental devastation? I don’t think so!

Third, Brown has forged ahead with the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called “marine protected areas” in California. These “marine protected areas” fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, military testing, pollution, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

The so-called “marine protected areas” that went into effect on the Southern California coast on January 1 were created under the helm of a big oil lobbyist. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and a relentless advocate for new offshore drilling, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of California’s environmental laws, served as the Chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that oversaw the implementation of these alleged “Yosemites of the Sea.”

Again, you can bet that John Muir wouldn’t support a privately funded greenwashing process, overseen by an oil industry lobbyist and other corporate operatives, that fails to provide comprehensive marine protection. Muir would undoubtedly be appalled by the use of the term “Yosemites of the Sea” to describe these “no fishing” zones

Jerry Brown is fast-tracking the peripheral canal, oversaw a record fish kill and record water exports at the Delta pumps in 2011 and continues Schwarzenegger’s corrupt MLPA Initiative. Now he issues a proclamation honoring John Muir Day.

Hey Jerry, why don’t you really honor Muir’s legacy by abandoning the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral canal and the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act Initiative – and by forcing the water contractors to pay for state of art fish screens on the Delta pumps that that were mandated by the CalFed process over 10 years ago? A proclamation and visiting a park is nice, but action is what we really need.

Below is the complete proclamation from the Governor’s Office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Governor’s Press Office
Saturday, April 21, 2012 (916) 445-4571

PROCLAMATION

BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

John Muir (1838-1914) was a giant of a man. His vision of the pristine landscape as a source of spiritual renewal has become central to our understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature. In addition to his scientific discoveries, engineering innovations and writings that still inspire us today, Muir’s advocacy was instrumental in the creation of the National Park System, one of the world’s great ecological treasures.

It is a tribute to the beauty of our state that this consummate lover of nature chose California as his home. In return, California has honored him many times over. In 1976 the California Historical Society named John Muir “The Greatest Californian,” and our state quarter, issued in 2004 by the United States Mint, bears his image. Numerous parks, trails, roads, schools and other places around the state are named after him. John Muir Day was established in 1988, the 150th anniversary of his birth, by a unanimous vote of the Legislature. Today, as a way to honor Muir’s teachings and help keep his legacy alive, I suggest a visit to one of California’s public open spaces—national park, state park or any other unspoiled wilderness—which he strived so zealously to preserve.

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim Saturday, April 21st, 2012 as “John Muir Day.”

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 17th day of April.

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