If You Misunderstand The Cause Of The Problem, You Probably Won’t Get The Solution Right Either

I have been following the story of the California water crisis for about five years now (rightwinggranny), including posting vacation pictures of the destruction the environmentalists have caused to the Central Valley farmers in the name of saving the Delta Smelt. Well, today The Wall Street Journal posted a story about the Delta Smelt. The Delta Smelt is not doing well, despite the fact that in order to protect the smelt from water pumps, government regulators have flushed 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008.

The article reports:

The agency (the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) acknowledges that its “existing regulatory mechanisms have not proven adequate” to arrest the fish’s decline since its listing under the Endangered Species Act in 1993 and that “we are unable to determine with certainty which threats or combinations of threats are directly responsible.”

Let me get this straight–the environmentalists have dumped 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008 in order to save the Delta Smelt. The article reminds us that the amount of water dumped would have been enough to sustain 6.4 million Californians for six years.

The article gives a more plausible explanation for the decline of the fish:

The smelt’s decline might not seem such a mystery today had government regulators more closely examined the science. For instance, a 2008 study by San Francisco State University researcher Wim Kimmerer—a paper used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to support its pumping restrictions—found that the sporadic population losses attributed to pumping during the winter and spring when smelt are spawning failed to take into account “subsequent 50-fold variability in survival from summer to fall” when the young fish are growing.

Other studies have noted that the biggest driver of species abundance in the delta is precipitation, which may explain why the smelt population has plummeted over the past four years of drought after rebounding in 2011—a wet year.

California should be a case study of what happens when extreme environmentalists demand drastic solutions to problems they do not fully understand. The damage they have done to the Central Valley, the former breadbasket of America, may be permanent, and all Americans have been negatively impacted by higher food prices as a result of government policies based on false conclusions drawn by extreme environmentalists. As these same environmentalists declare that global warming is caused by man and is an immediate threat to all of us, we should remember how flawed their science was in regard to the Delta Smelt. It’s time someone stood up for people and their right to exist.

Lied To Again

California used to be the breadbasket of America–until Nancy Pelosi and crew shut off the water to the Central Valley. Now because of a severe drought, the State is making further decisions about water use that are just as nonsensical as the government’s previous decisions. You can expect the mainstream media to blame this on climate change, but that is not the problem. California has always had droughts–Congress and actions by the State of California have made this drought worse than it should have been.

In 2010, I posted the following vacation picture:


In 2010, I quoted the National Review Online in a rightwinggranny article:

The Central Valley’s woes began in earnest in 2007, when the hardline Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) won a lawsuit against California’s intricate water-delivery system, sending farmers like John Harris into a tailspin. In court, the NRDC’s lawyers contended that the vast pumps that help to funnel water from the reservoirs up in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta down to the Central Valley, to Southern California, and to the Bay Area were sucking in and shredding an unacceptable number of smelt — and, the smelt being protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1994, that this was illegal.

The problem has gotten worse since then.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article today about the problem. The article included the following chart:

The line from the article that stands out to me:

The reality is that farm water has already been rationed for more than two decades by the ascendant green politics, starting with the 1992 federal Central Valley Project Improvement Act. Federal protections for the delta smelt, salmon, steelhead and sturgeon (2008-2009) further restricted water pumping at the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, so 76% of inflows, mainly from the Sierra Nevada mountains, spill into San Francisco Bay.

If California is sending three-quarters of the runoff from the mountains into the San Francisco Bay, they deserve to have water problems.

The article in the Wall Street Journal concludes:

Some farmers have also adapted by shifting production to high-value crops. Since 1992 cotton acreage has fallen by about 80%. Roughly 100,000 acres of alfalfa have been torn out in the last four years. Almond acreage has increased by a third over the last decade. While nut trees are water-intensive and cannot be removed from production in dry years, most were planted prior to the Delta’s pumping restrictions. New almond acreage has fallen by 80% since 2005.

In other words, farmers are responding to market forces, which conservatives ought to understand even if the concept is foreign in San Francisco’s Presidio.

Meanwhile, the Bay Area currently imports a large share of its pristine water (among the cheapest in the state) and some of its hydropower electricity from the glacial Hetch Hetchy valley in Yosemite. So its water isn’t diverted to protect fish. But imagine if the government mandated that Hetch Hetchy be restored to its pre-development state. Water and power rates would spike. Marijuana growers and distributors—cannabis consumes about twice as much water as lettuce—would shut down or (horrors) raise their prices.

That won’t happen because of the Bay Area’s clout in Washington and Sacramento. But farmers don’t pack the same punch, so they’re getting fed to the smelt.

This is another example of the state government compounding the previous mistakes of the federal government in order to make a bad situation worse. It’s not about doing what is best for everyone–it’s about who has the most clout in Washington. If we do not change that dynamic in the next election, all of us will be at the mercy or bureaucrats who have no idea of the unintended consequences of their actions.

Blaming Others For A Crisis You Caused Yourself

I have written about the Central Valley in California before. In September 2010, I posted the following vacation picture (rightwinggranny.com):


This picture was taken driving through the Central Valley of California. In case you can’t read the sign, it says, “Stop the Congress Created Dust Bowl.”

This is what is really going on in the Central Valley of California:

A letter to the editor at the Herald and News in July 2009 stated:

“Thousands of people have also become unemployed or lost the ability to farm, which adversely affects both local and national economies.

“In addition to the California drought, there has been court-ordered protection of a 2-inch smelt fish that has stopped the pumping of water from the delta that is necessary for agriculture in central California. If it is listed as an endangered species, it’s likely that California agriculture, which supplies a third of the nation’s food supply, will be permanently changed.”

The water was cut off to protect the delta smelt, a small fish that was getting caught in the pumps. California is currently having a drought, but the drought has been exacerbated by the water shutoff.

Ed Morrissey posted an article at Hot Air yesterday stating that President Obama during his visit to the Central Valley blamed the drought on global warming.

This is a YouTube video of the President’s statement:

The article at Hot Air quotes Investor’s Business Daily on the history of the Central Valley drought:

The one thing that will mitigate droughts in California — a permanent feature of the state — is to restore the water flow from California’s water-heavy north to farmers in the central and south. That’s just what House Bill 3964, which passed by a 229-191 vote last week, does.

But Obama’s plan is not to get that worthy bill through the Senate (where Democrats are holding it up) but to shovel pork to environmental activists and their victims, insultingly offering out-of-work farmers a “summer meal plan” in his package.

“We are not interested in welfare; we want water,” Nunes told IBD this week. He and his fellow legislator Valadao are both farmers who represent the worst-hit regions of the Central Valley in Congress and can only look at the president’s approach with disbelief.

“He’s not addressing the situation,” Valadao told us.

“They want to blame the drought for the lack of water, but they wasted water for the past five years,” said Nunes.

The two explain that California’s system of aqueducts and storage tanks was designed long ago to take advantage of rain and mountain runoff from wet years and store it for use in dry years. But it’s now inactive — by design. “California’s forefathers built a system (of aqueducts and storage facilities) designed to withstand five years of drought,” said Nunes.

“We have infrastructure dating from the 1960s for transporting water, but by the 1990s the policies had changed,” said Valadao.

Environmental special interests managed to dismantle the system by diverting water meant for farms to pet projects, such as saving delta smelt, a baitfish. That move forced the flushing of 3 million acre-feet of water originally slated for the Central Valley into the ocean over the past five years.

If California would stop flushing millions of gallons of water into the ocean and give it to the farmers, the Central Valley would not be a dustbowl. It is truly a shame that President Obama chooses to use the hardship of the farmers as a political platform rather than solving the problem. This drought is not caused by global warming or climate change–it is caused by Washington politicians!



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Big Government At Work

In 2010 I attended a family reunion in Northern California. Because my military family was stationed near San Deigo, we made the drive up the Five. One of the things we saw was the impact of the Congress-imposed drought on the Central Valley, formerly the breadbasket of America. The story hasn’t gone away. The picture below of the Central Valley was taken during that drive.


Today National Review Online posted an update of the story.

The story at National Review Online describes the Central Valley:

The soil being uncharacteristically fertile and the summers being long and dry, growers are afforded that most valuable of things: control. Emancipated from Gaia’s caprice, farmers here can determine precisely not only how much water they wish to provide to their crops but when to add it, too. Which is to say that, in the Central Valley, irrigation is achieved not by the whimsy of the sky but by deliberately placed pipes, pumps, and microprocessors. It is here that the ancient earth meets the best of technology; where Silicon Valley meshes with the baser elements and, together, they yield life. “If the Pilgrims had landed in California,” Ronald Reagan liked to joke, “the East Coast would still be a wilderness.” Undoubtedly. I suspect fewer Pilgrims would have died, too. Make no mistake: This place is a miracle — a vast greenhouse in which, unmolested by the elements and provided with incomparably fecund terrain, farmers can do their thing as never before.

But the miracle has a problem. On the Harris Ranch in the Central Valley, 9,000 of the 15,000 acres are fallow because of lack of water.

The article explains:

The Central Valley’s woes began in earnest in 2007, when the hardline Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) won a lawsuit against California’s intricate water-delivery system, sending farmers like John Harris into a tailspin. In court, the NRDC’s lawyers contended that the vast pumps that help to funnel water from the reservoirs up in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta down to the Central Valley, to Southern California, and to the Bay Area were sucking in and shredding an unacceptable number of smelt — and, the smelt being protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1994, that this was illegal.

And much of the breadbasket became a dustbowl.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It is a study in governmental destruction of a natural resource–America’s breadbasket.

The article concludes:

And so nothing happens. Each year, farmers sit and wait — praying for rain, and hoping that the federal government will send them a few drops of water so that they do not have to leave perfectly good land fallow and tell their employees that this month there will be no work. Of all our present troubles, California’s farming woes are perhaps the most inexplicably sourced and the most easily fixed. Complacently convinced of their infallibility, legislators in the nation’s richest state have prostrated themselves at the feet of many silly ideas in recent years. But for authorities to have put the livelihood of millions of citizens at the mercy of a tiny little fish is almost too much to bear.

We need a little common sense with our environmentalism.

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Things That Slow Down The Growth Of The Economy

In September of 2010 I posted a story about the water shutoff in the Central Valley region of California (rightwinggranny.com). The irrigation systems that water the valley were shut down by Congress to protect the delta smelt, a supposedly endangered small fish that was getting caught in the irrigation pumps. Before the shutdown, the Central Valley was the breadbasket of America, supplying a major part of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables found in American supermarkets.

To add insult to injury, On April 28, 2010, Investors.com  reported:

Take the three congressmen who represent the valley and how they were pressured to vote for President Obama’s health care bill. It didn’t go without notice by farmers like Jasper that the 5% water allocations announced in February for all three congressional districts were lifted to 25% for the two whose Democratic representatives, Jim Costa of Fresno and Dennis Cardoza of Modesto, switched their votes on health reform from “no” to “aye.”

That is a disgrace.

Now to the present. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reported yesterday that President Obama has stated that if the bill to restore the water to the farmers of Central Valley passes Congress, he will veto the bill. California Representative Devin Nunes has sponsored the Sacramento-San Joaquin Water Reliability Act.

The article at Hot Air reports:

“The bill restores the flow of water and establishes a framework for meaningful environmental improvements. It is a repudiation of the left’s assault on rural communities, which began with the decimation of the West’s timber industry and now is focused on Central Valley agriculture,” Nunes told IBD.

The stand-alone bill, H.R. 1837, marks the first time Central Valley water shortages and the federal role in creating them will be considered directly in Congress.

The statement from the White House regarding this bill includes the following:

H.R. 1837 would undermine five years of collaboration between local, State, and Federal stakeholders to develop the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.  It would codify 20-year old, outdated science as the basis for managing California’s water resources, resulting in inequitable treatment of one group of water users over another.  And, contrary to 100 years of reclamation law that exhibits congressional deference to State water law, the bill would preempt California water law.

The article at Hot Air also includes a picture of what five years of collaboration have created. I posted my own picture back in April 2010. This is that picture:

Near Bakersfield, Calif., a farmer posts a sign blaming Congress for a sharp drop in water supplies that has slashed farm output.

Sometimes a picture is all you need.

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