Coalition launches campaign against peripheral tunnels
by Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown and federal officials will unveil their plan to build twin “peripheral tunnels” to export more Delta water from the Sacramento River to corporate agribusiness and southern California – and Delta advocates will launch their campaign against the tunnels with a rally and news conference at the West Steps of the State Capitol on Wednesday, July 25 at 12:30 p.m.
Governor Jerry Brown will be joined by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the National Marine Fisheries Service Eric Schwaab in Sacramento Wednesday to announce a “proposed path forward for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and California’s water future,” according to a media advisory from the Governor’s Office.
The announcement will take place July 25, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. at the Natural Resources Agency Building, Room 1131, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. “This event is open to credentialed media only,” the media advisory states.
Prior to the noon rally, peripheral canal opponents will gather at 10 am outside the Resources Building with their signs for a pre-rally response to the announcement.
Restore the Delta, elected leaders, the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Planning and Conservation League, Environmental Water Caucus, Delta Counties Farm Bureau Caucus, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and other groups will point out the expected damage to water, the environment, fish, farming and water ratepayers presented by the proposal.
“The governor and federal officials are poised to pursue one of the largest public works projects in our history,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “We oppose the rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would exterminate salmon runs, destroy sustainable family farms and saddle taxpayers with tens of billions in debt, mainly to benefit a small number of huge growers on the west side of the Central Valley.”
A broad coalition of Delta residents, Indian Tribes, fishermen, family farmers, and environmentalists believes that you can’t “save” the Delta by draining it. The proposal to drain the Delta to benefit the Westlands Water District, agribusiness tycoons Stewart and Lynda Resnick and other powerful corporate interests is the centerpiece of the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, compared the governor’s “twin tunnels” plan to the Brazilian government’s plans to build the third-largest dam in the world and one of the Amazon’s most controversial development projects – the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River in the state of Pará.
“The Governor’s proposed gigantic tunnels and the raising of Shasta Dam are the same as what they are doing at the Belo Monte Dam….totally ignoring the needs of the animals, the environment, and the people, and most of all ignoring the the total IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE TO THE WATERS!” said Sisk. “It is all about the money and who’s pockets it is in.”
“The Governor and Government is wrong about this water plan on all levels,” she emphasized. “California Tribes need to be included and come to the water talks and plans! We have not given our ‘free, prior, and informed consent’ on this water plan that affects our tribal communities and way of life!”
Speakers will include Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta; U.S. Rep. John Garamendi; Sen. Lois Wolk; Assem. Bill Berryhill; Mayor Ann Johnston; Caleen Sisk, Chief of Winnemem Wintu Tribe; Jim Metropulos, Sierra Club; Jonas Minton, Planning and Conservation League; Zeke Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations/Golden Gate Salmon Association; Russell van Löben Sels, Chairman, Five Delta Counties Farm Bureau Caucus; Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance; Kristin Lynch, Food & Water Watch; Nick di Croce, Environmental Water Caucus, and John Herrick, South Delta Water Agency.
People interested in attending the rally should arrive by noon on July 25 at the West Steps of the Capitol.
The campaign against the peripheral canal or tunnel is building momentum every day. For example, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted 5 to 0 to oppose the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the tunnels.
Over the past several decades, water exports have increased dramatically from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. These increasing water exports have spurred the decline of Central Valley chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, striped bass, Sacramento splittail and other fish populations, resulting in the listing of many fish species under the Endangered Species Act.
Restore the Delta is a 7000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org
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