Peripheral tunnel water will go to agribusiness and oil companies

by Dan Bacher

Missed in the mainstream media coverage of the release of the revised Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) documents on March 14 was the alarming role the peripheral tunnels could play in increased fracking in California

The oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California, is now pushing for increasing fracking for oil and natural gas in shale deposits in Kern County and coastal areas.

However, Adam Scow, the California Campaigns Director of Food and Water Watch, hasn’t missed the connection between fracking and Governor Brown’s plan to build the tunnels – and urges Californians to speak out against the corporate water grab.

“Governor Brown has proposed building two massive $50 billion water tunnels to divert the Sacramento River to corporate interests in the Central Valley,” said Scow. “Most of the water will go to large agribusiness and oil companies while taxpayers will be stuck with the bill.”

“The Westlands Water District and Kern County Water Agency import water for the biggest agribusinesses and oil fields in the Central Valley,” explained Scow. “Now they’ve gotten Governor Brown to approve a massive tunnels project to bring them even more water, which they will sell for an enormous profit. Even worse, much of this water will go to oil companies who will pollute our groundwater with fracking. Help put a stop to this corporate water grab by asking Governor Brown to protect our state’s precious water.”

Scow emphasized that most Californians would see no benefit from this massive water project, but we will be left with the $50 billion price tag. Local water projects to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and expand stormwater and rainwater systems would provide local jobs and better water security for much less.

“It’s absurd that Governor Brown wants to make us taxpayers pay to redirect the Sacramento River so that oil companies and huge agribusinesses can make even more profits,” said Scow. “Not only would we spend billions on a wasteful project that serves only to pad the pockets of corporate interests, we would be helping oil and gas companies contaminate our already precious water with fracking. Stand up and tell Governor Brown that we won’t pay the water bill for agribusinesses and oil companies.”

He urges people to speak out against the $50 billion tunnels today:
https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=329

The drive by the oil and natural gas industry to frack California is highlighted by recent disturbing developments that reveal the enormous power of Big Oil in the state. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/26/1189970/-The-BDCP-s-Hidden-Agenda-Water-for-Fracking)

In yet one more example of the revolving door between government and huge corporations that defines politics in California now, State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) on February 22 suddenly announced his resignation from office in order to take a “government affairs” position at Chevron.

Rubio went to work for Chevron just two months after alleged “marine protected areas,” overseen by the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, a coastal real estate developer, a marina corporation executive and other corporate interests, went into effect on California’s North Coast.

These “marine protected areas,” created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering.

In a big scandal largely ignored by the mainstream media, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, not only chaired the Marine Life Protection Act Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” on the South Coast, but also served on the task forces to create “marine reserves” on the North Coast, North Central Coast and South Coast.

“It’s clear that government and petroleum officials want to ‘frack’ in the very same areas Reheis-Boyd was appointed to oversee as a ‘guardian’ of marine habitat protection for the MLPA ‘Initiative,'” said David Gurney, independent journalist and co-chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition, in his report on the opening of new lease-sales for fracking. (http://noyonews.net/?p=8215)

“What’s becoming obvious is that Reheis-Boyd’s expedient presence on the ‘Blue Ribbon Task Force’ for the MLPAI was a ploy for the oil industry to make sure no restrictions applied against drilling or fracking in or around so-called marine protected areas,” Gurney emphasized.

The current push by the oil industry to expand fracking in California, build the Keystone XL Pipeline and eviscerate environmental laws is only possible because state officials and MLPA Initiative advocates greenwashed the key role Reheis-Boyd and the oil industry played in creating marine protected areas that don’t protect the ocean.

Reheis-Boyd apparently used her role as a state marine “protection” official to increase her network of influence in California politics to the point where the Western States Petroleum Association has become the most powerful corporate lobby in California. (http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/lawsuit-filed-against-fracking-oil-lobbyist-says-its-safe)

Now many of the same MLPA Initiative advocates who helped make Reheis-Boyd into an oil industry super star are supporting the fast-tracking of the most environmentally destructive project in California history under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

As the oil industry expands its role in California politics and environmental processes, you can bet that they are going to use every avenue they can to get more water for fracking, including taking Delta water through the planned twin tunnels.

Scow asks, “Why should we spend $50 billion to help the oil industry frack our state?”

 

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