“It is hilarious that Westlands – huge growers who receive millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize their unsustainable practices, wants to hide behind anti-tax groups.” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, “What utter hypocrisy.”
by Dan Bacher
The Westlands Water District, regarded as the poster child of government-subsidized corporate agribusiness in California, is apparently posing as the anti-tax, anti-big government “Central Valley Tea Party” in an attack on Restore the Delta’s documentary “Over Troubled Waters.”
In a statement, Restore the Delta (RTD) on October 3 exposed the effort by Westlands, one of the largest beneficiaries of taxpayer subsidies, for “masquerading” as the “Central Valley Tea Party” to instigate opposition to RTD’s film documenting the public subsidies of water for huge, unsustainable corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
RTD is a well-respected coalition of farmers, fishermen, environmentalists and business owners dedicated to a fair water policy in California.
“It is hilarious that Westlands – huge growers who receive millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize their unsustainable practices,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, “wants to hide behind anti-tax groups. What utter hypocrisy.”
Gayle Holman, Public Affairs Representative of the Westlands Water District, on October 2 sent out an appeal as the “Central Valley Tea Party” to instigate opposition to the screening of the film Thursday evening at Fresno City College. The Central Valley Tea Party (http://www.centralvalleyteaparty.com) describes itself as the “Grassroots Tea Party Movement in the Central Valley of California.”
The screening is free to the public and provides a unique examination of who benefits from today’s water politics. A panel discussion will follow the screening in which audience members will be able to present questions to the panel.
Westlands claims film includes ‘numerous fallacies and lies’
The alert, addressed to “Dear Growers, Workers, Business Partners, and Friends of Ag,” said, “I want to alert you to an important upcoming film screening in Fresno on Thursday, October 4th. Restore the Delta will be showing, ‘Over Troubled Waters.’” (LINK)
“This is their version of a film documentary which opposes water deliveries for south of the Delta agricultural water users and includes numerous fallacies and lies,” Holman claimed. “It implies that agricultural activities on the Westside are tainted and ‘are in the process of destroying the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and estuary, and the fisheries that depend on it.’ Their opposition to conveyance and the efforts of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) are illustrated in a manipulated fashion by the likes of several Delta and fisheries supporters.”
“This negative rhetoric is old and tired which is why I encourage you to attend this FREE screening at Fresno City College on Thursday, October 4th at 7:00 PM in the Old Administrative Building Auditorium, 1101 East University Ave., Fresno, CA 93741,” this alert continued.
“Immediately following the Fresno screening will be a Water Panel with a Question & Answer session. It is important we have a solid attendance of Westside farmers, workers, business leaders, and friends of agriculture at THIS screening to provide factual answers and comments as they attempt to distort the truth in our own backyard. Restore the Delta has several planned screenings of this slanted documentary. This may be our only opportunity to set the record straight,” Holman concluded.
RTD: Westlands backs peripheral tunnels to create permanent water guarantees
Restore the Delta noted that Westlands Water District is a principal promoter of the proposed peripheral tunnels that would destroy sustainable farming in the Delta, the health of the Bay-Delta estuary, and coastal fisheries.
“Westlands growers, which contribute only .3% to the state’s annual GDP, see this project as a way to transform their junior water rights into permanent water guarantees at the expense of California’s water rate payers and tax payers,” RTD said.
“Westlands growers disregard the importance of the Delta’s $5 billion a year agriculture economy; the Delta’s $650,000,000 recreational economy, and the $2 billion a year coastal salmon fishing economy – a total economy that supports millions of Californians, not a handful of large corporate farms,” RTD stated.
Earlier this year, the collective scientific community scathingly characterized the BDCP “Effects Analysis as junk science” and said that it would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species than restoring them.
“You can’t restore an estuary hemorrhaging from pollution and lack of flow by stealing more fresh water from it,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance “CSPA” and RTD Executive Board member. “That’s a death sentence for the Delta.”
“Make no mistake,” stated Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. “The peripheral canal will destroy river ecosystems, destroy fisheries and sentence us to a future where clean water is a luxury rather than a right.”
Over Troubled Waters selected for Artivist International Film Festival
Meanwhile, Over Troubled Waters has been selected to be part of the 9th Annual Artivist International Film Festival, to be held November 1-4 in Hollywood. The Artivist Film Festival will award $5,000 to the film or video that receives the most votes from their online community. The voting begins by November 1st, and the winner will be announced on December 1, 2012.
On July 25, Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary held a press conference in Sacramento announcing their decision to move ahead with the construction of the peripheral tunnels, a decision protested by fishermen, environmentalists, members of the Winnemem Wintu, Pit River, Hoopa Valley and other Tribes, family farmers and elected officials in a rally at the State Capitol after the press conference. (www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/07/27/18718385.php)
Brown announced that the EIR/EIS for the peripheral tunnel/canal plan would released “this fall,” probably September. However, the tentative release date was rescheduled to October and now is looking like it will be on December 20, just in time for the holidays.
Brown continues Schwarzenegger fish and water policies
Besides fast-tracking Scharzenegger’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, Brown has also continued and expanded other controversial Schwarzenegger administration environmental policies.
Brown presided over record water exports out of the Delta pumps in 2011, surpassing even the Schwarzenegger administration in his zeal to divert massive quantities of Delta water to corporate agribusiness and southern California water agencies. The massive diversions resulted in the “salvage” of over 11 million fish, including a record 9 million native Sacramento splittail. (www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/07/carnage-in-the-pumps)
Brown also continued Arnold Schwarzenegger’s privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. Overseen by an oil industry lobbyist and other corporate operatives, the tainted MLPA Initiative process created “marine protected areas” that don’t protect the ocean from seismic and military testing, oil drilling and spills, pollution, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering.
For more information on Westlands’ unsustainable farming practices, read “Another View: Westlands’ farm practices harm Delta,” Sacramento Bee, May 12, 2012: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/12/4484657/another-view-westlands-farm-practices.html.
For more information on Restore the Delta, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.
Visit http://overtroubledwaters.org/buy-tickets/ for more information and additional screening dates.
* * *