PCL: Water package brings subsidies, not solutions

As the dust settles on the late-night water deal passed in Sacramento
on Thursday and touted as the next-best-thing to mother’s milk, the
environmental groups are starting to speak out about the deal and what it really
means….for the environment, for the consumer and for the future of
California’s water crisis.
Here is the Planning and Conservation League’s take on the deal.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments with us.

Planning & Conservation League: PCL: Water package brings subsidies, not solutions

“In the middle of the night while most Californians were
sound asleep, the state legislature passed a package of bills and a
bond that rewards bad actors instead of solving the water needs of real
people and the environment. The corner piece of the new deal is an
$11.1 Billion taxpayer-funded scheme that will appear on the November
2010 ballot.

We are extremely disappointed that the Legislature passed up an
opportunity to make real progress on addressing our state’s water
needs. The Planning and Conservation League’s main objective in
negotiations on the Delta package has been to secure dedicated instream
water flows through the Delta and the San Francisco Bay for endangered
and threatened fish populations.

Instead the Legislature capitulated to pressure from big corporate
water interests and passed a package full of outdated ideas and the
same policies that have lead to the current crisis. In the end, the
original goal of substantive water reform to restore the fragile Delta
ecosystem does not come through in this package.

Instead of dedicating the water flows that endangered and threatened
fish species in the Delta need to recover, the package leaves
Californians with no regulatory assurance that water will be there for
the fish – even the legislatures’ own staff told them this portion of
the bill was unenforceable. This will worsen the fishery collapse and
lead to even more restrictions on water supplies.

Instead of insisting on reducing reliance on unstable Delta water,
the package continues the status quo of unsustainable pumping that will
further devastate the fishery and lead to more litigation.

Instead of holding people accountable when they illegally divert water,
the package makes it harder for state agencies to enforce the law.

Instead of asking the beneficiaries to pay for new water projects,
this package relies on more borrowing and for the first time ever
allows taxpayer subsidies for new destructive dams that will cripple
our environment and our economy.

While the policy bills represent a missed opportunity, the passage
of an $11 Billion bond was most shocking. Incredibly, the Legislature
once again pulled out the taxpayers’ credit card even after the State
Treasurer warned them the state has already gone over the limit for
responsible borrowing. Even more disheartening is that they did this
after the independent Legislative Analyst staff gave clear warning that
the $700 million annual debt service would result in annual General
Fund program cuts equal to one-fourth of the entire UC Educational
System or three times the budget of the Department of Public Health.

With this package, powerful interests will get billions of our
dollars for pet projects that they would not pay for if they had to use
their own money. For instance, billions of dollars would be used to
build destructive dam projects that are so cost inefficient, even the
few that could benefit won’t pay for them.

“The Planning and Conservation League is disappointed that the
Legislature hung the fate of endangered Delta fish species out to dry.
Next November it will be the voters’ turn to tell these powerful
interests No – No to more binge borrowing, No to more subsidies, and No
to devastating the Bay Delta ecosystem,” said Charlotte Hodde, Water
Program Manager, Planning and Conservation League.

The Planning and Conservation League (The League) partners with
hundreds of California environmental organizations to provide an
effective voice in Sacramento for sound planning and responsible
environmental policy at the state level.

1 thought on “PCL: Water package brings subsidies, not solutions

  1. This is a quagmire of major proportions.
    The legislative members from Southern California all signed onto this, including unequivocal environmental protectors while members to the North and some of the major environmental groups are blasting the bills as a sell-out to Ag. and big water users around the state. Added to that is the concern that the bonds being sought call for the general fund to repay them (meaning us taxpayers) and not those who are using the water and benefiting from it. Makes it appear that the right-wingers have won another round.
    Terribly confusing. Can anyone make real, honest sense of this?

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