Dear Readers. California Farmers are on the front lines of the battle against eco-tyranny. These hard-workers are planning to join other state citizens for the August 28th March on Sacramento, taking place from 1 pm to 5 pm that day on the steps of the state capitol to protest extremist environmental regulations that are toxic to California’s prosperity.
The March on Sacramento is a continuation of a new citizen’s movement. For example, Central Valley Tea Party groups assembled 15,000 citizens in Tulare this July 4th to protest federal healthcare reform and Cap&Trade proposals. The focus of the Aug. 28th event in Sacramento affects them more seriously — environmental activism has turned off their water supply and jeopardizes their livelihoods and the food supply for the state and nation.
“California is becoming the 21st century Oklahoma,” said Ben Bergquam, an MBA student at the Craig School of Business at California State University in Fresno. Bergquam is also active in Central Valley Tea Party outreach group that is addressing the serious water-distribution problems plaguing the area. “Farmers and businesses have been demonized. Families have been sacrificed because of politicians and judges being directed by environmental activists. We need to make people aware of what is happening, before we create a Dust Bowl in this state.”
Bergquam is referring to the Dust Bowl in the Great Plains state during the 1930’s, that drove many mid-westerners to find new homes in California. A non-fiction best-seller, “The Worst Hard Time”, describes the environmental devastation caused when government-promoted ideas and sponsored programs (e.g., government brochures stated that plowing through prairie grass would actually create rainfall, free distribution of small land parcels under the erroneous idea that single-family farms were suited to the area), combined with a change in climate, affected 100,000,000 acres of farmland by blowing millions of tons of critical topsoil across the country.
Some of the environmental activists claim that the Central Valley’s regional woes are caused by drought conditions. However, it turns out that the Shasta Lake Reservoir (from which many area farmers obtain water) is at 95% capacity; similar water conditions are reported throughout the region. The real source of the water problem is that the federal government, under the auspices of “biological opinions” rendered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, has shut-off water distribution to farms because of the need to protect fish.
Todd Allen, a Central Valley farmer recently interviewed on the Jon and Ken Show on AM 640, shared his experiences (read more bout his story from a USA Today Article by clicking HERE). After investing much capital in irrigation equipment, he received “0” percent of his annual water allotment in January….and February…..and March. After three months of bone-dry conditions, only 40 acres of the 300 acres of wheat he planted survived. The sole reason he managed to save the 40 acres was that he managed to water the section before the tap was shut off. It must be stressed that the Shasta reservoir was close to capacity – the only reason there was no water is because a judge ruled in favor of smelt protection. Allen indicated that he had enough cash reserves to survive this year, but not the next if the water does not begin to flow.
Great Plains Dust Bowl conditions were exacerbated by Americans abandoning their farms. Once the stewards left the land, significant erosion took place. The Great Plain’s winds swept the soil away – some of it landing at the steps of Congress as congressmen debated if they needed to fix the problems government policies created. Blind allegiance to the Endangered Species Act, without taking the needs of Americans, local conditions, and sensible economic planning into consideration, is threatening the breadbasket of California.
As farmers go out of business, so too do other operations depending on successful agricultural enterprises. Allen, for example, as laid off all his workers. Transportation firms, processing plants, and other entities dependent on providing or processing produces are shutting down. Subsequently, the unemployment numbers through the Central Valley are heart-rending (e.g., 39% in Mendota, 25% in Calusa County).
The biological opinions upon which the water-shut-off was based deal with the Delta Smelt (a 2006 ruling, theoretically because they are trapped by pumps) and salmon, killer whales, and “bigger name” aquatic species (a 2009 opinion). The environmentalists claim that thousands of commercial and recreational fishing businesses and coastal communities that have been devastated by fishery collapses caused by massive exports of water to corporate agribusiness and the operation of Central Valley dams. Yet, Allen and other farmers are not “big corporate agribusinesses”. Furthermore, salmon fishing has been canceled in Oregon, too – and it seems there is no agreed cause for the drop in salmon numbers. A reviewing of graphics related to unemployment numbers that can be located HERE plainly shows that the coastal cities are not facing the same degree of economic devastation faced by Central Valley residents.
In terms of the delta smelt matter, the scientific validity of the opinion is disputed. The following summarizes the types of scientific data ignored during the rendering of that opinion:
The lawsuit makes the case that in drawing up the Delta smelt biological opinion, federal agencies ignored the best scientific data available and other causes of the species’ decline. Scientists have identified several other probable causes of the smelt population decline. Invasive species and thousands of unscreened agricultural diversions in the Delta are upsetting the biological balance while toxic runoff from pesticides and wastewater treatment plant discharges that flow through Delta waters and nonnative predator fish, introduced for sport fishing, have altered the natural food web. These other significant sources of fish mortality are summarily dismissed in the biological opinion.
“The judge (Wanger) specifically said that he only took the fish into account when agreeing to the opinion”, said Bergquam. “In fact, it seems because the smelt where exciting enough fish, the environmental activist groups found more popular varieties. Who doesn’t love whales? However, the rulings will result in financial and economic disaster to this state. We need to get Californians to contact their congressman and have the judge’s ruling suspended so we can turn distribute water to save our farms.”
Water usage has a complex, but interesting history, in Central California. It seems that there is the East Side and West Side. According to Bergquam, the East Side obtains its water from the San Joaquin water system. Though the West Side originally did, too, when the federal government said they would permit the area to obtain water from Delta sources so the East Side could have more San Joaquin flow, the area’s managers agreed. Now, the federal government has shut off the taps. Questions about specific federal actions have been ignored or glossed over, as indicated by this mark-up from an affected area resident.
One of the solutions proposed to the water-use difficulties is building a peripheral canal. Though an expensive project, it has the potential benefit of addressing some of the more rational environmental protection arguments and assisting Central Valley. Mike Sweeney, executive director for The Nature Conservancy’s California Program, noted: “The Nature Conservancy’s analysis led us to the conclusion that, short of ending water exports from the Delta, a peripheral canal is an essential component to restoring the conditions that Delta species need to survive.”
Arguments in favor of the biological opinions, and against solutions such as the peripheral canal, refer to the battle against “corporate agribusinesses” (as if they are evil entities trying to pollute everything around them while making detestable profits). Statements such as this are common: “The rich farming land in the Delta is going to be confiscated and our water is being traded to large Central Valley corporate agribusiness interests,” (Barbara Daly, N member of North Delta CARES - Community Area Residents for Environmental Sustainability).
It is essential to get some perspective on this matter, especially as opponents like to make breathless statements attacking corporations. Capitalism is not evil. California Farmers strive to enhance conservation practices [e.g., by promoting USDA's Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), which is carried out by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and assists farmers and ranchers by providing funds to install conservation practices]. California agricultural entities generate over 36 billion dollars in revenue. California has been the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States for more than 50 consecutive years, and more than half the nation’s fruit, nuts, and vegetables come from this state. Hundreds of thousands of California citizens are directly employed in the agricultural industry. These facts must be underscored, especially in light of the state’s current economy.
Rational perspective is essential. Governor Schwarzenegger is mocked as the “Fish Terminator“. Opponents claim that the state’s future is based on “corporate agribusiness irrigating toxic, drainage impaired land” and that the land “should have never been farmed”. It seems that agricultural entities are not the main contributors of toxins (in fact, toilet water from urban areas is the main culprit). Furthermore, it seems the bulk of water-borne pesticide contamination steps from urban areas and not farm zones, as indicated in this report. Farming is essential and successful in the Central Valley. Opponents will alter facts, claiming a river tributary is a headwater, to further undermine challenges. Such appeals to environmental emotions instead of science and economic principles is toxic to California.
Not all the state’s representatives are beholden to environmental activist special interests. The area’s Congressman, Devin Nunes of the 21st District, tried to get the US congress to vote on HR 3105 – a bill that would have returned water supplies to California residents by ending pumping restrictions. It went down to defeat. It is important for all Californians to note that despite the claims of bi-partisan support for returning Delta pumping to normal operations, not a single California Democrat supported the Nunes bill on the House Floor.
Here is an insightful video all Californians would do well to watch: Nunes comparing the Dust Bowl conditions now present in the Central Valley and how the Democrats have handled, versus how the Democrats rallied against President Bush in the aftermath of Katrina. Democrat George Miller of the 7th District, an aggressive environmentalist who (it has been reported) specifically stated he wanted the area returned to its “natural desert state” then follows. Listen to both arguments carefully — and note how Miller invokes the non-sequitur of “Karl Rove” into his opposition of Nunes’ statements.
Nunes is valiantly continuing his efforts to correct this situation and prevent the California Dust Bowl; he needs our support.
Washington, DC seems determined to turn the Central Valley, an important American breadbasket, into a desert. Our state is essentially controlled by federal bureaucrats who have no knowledge of the area’s complexities or dynamics. Too many California congressional representatives do not ask the hard questions, and accept the anti-business/anti-human premises of environmental groups that fund their campaigns. There is no easy solution to this problem. California’s citizens must unite and act. The plans include:
• Contact Representative Nunes and find out how you can best support his efforts. [ phone = (202) 225-2523; fax = (202) 225-3404; FAX; webform = http://nunes.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUs.ContactForm; for office locations, click HERE.]
• Contacting each state congressional representative and force them to pass HR 3105. This is more critical to our state’s recovery than Cap-and-Trade, Healthcare Reform, or any other touted piece of legislation up for discussion.
• Biological opinions are now paid for using tax dollars. Thus, monies from hard-working Americans are being used to fund rulings that damage their businesses. Citizens must force legislation to have these opinions privately funded by the individuals or groups interested in having them.
• Politically-active groups capable of intensively lobbying our representatives must lose their non-profit status and protections. The Environmental Working Group is a classic example of how hazardous these entities are to American prosperity and liberty. Synopsis: EWG’s game plan is simple. It releases “scientific” analyses designed to make the public (especially parents) worry tremendously about tiny amounts of pesticide exposure from fruits and vegetables. Throwing around phrases like “cancer risk” and “nervous system toxicity” attracts press coverage and lends EWG the veneer of scientific respectability. The “Environmental Worrying Group,” as some commentators have dubbed the organization, then goes on to recommend that Americans “buy as much organic food as possible” in order to avoid the supposed health risks associated with these pesky chemicals. What they’re not telling us, of course, is that most of the pesticides we find on fresh produce are completely natural, and manufactured by plants themselves.
• Substantial revisions must be made to the way the Endangered Species Act is implemented. For example, setting sensible population levels and a meaningful process that removes species from the list would be a good start.
For too long, average Americans have focused on family, work, and play – living the American dream, while activists have strived to enact green legislation that diminishes that dream and undermine our standard of living for no valid scientific reason. “Our farmers are not villains here; they willingly support sound environmental protections,” noted Bergquam. “But the groups who want the water to stay off make it seem like our farmers are environmental demons. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are good stewards of the land; we have to be to succeed. “
Despite the fact that Americans everywhere strive to keep the environment clean in their personal and business practices, it seems that no amount of control will ever be enough for these activists. This trend has gone too far in California: It seems the Dust Bowl Okies are returning back to the Midwest.
Please join us for the August 28th March on Sacramento Opposing the Eco-tyranny Controlling California. We need to act now.
(For more information, go to the SAC828 blog; Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition, or Tea Party Patriots. For those of you in other states, there is a recess rally being held on Aug. 22 courtesy of Tea Party Patriots).
Citizen involvement doesn’t really seem to be appreciated by some of our representatives, as noted here:
Karl at Hot Air: Obama stumped by dumb Americans opposing ObamaCare. To turn this to our topic, perhaps the CA Farmers just don’t know what is food for them!
And, as a note related to a key concept in my summary, Instapundit asks: When Did Profits Become Evil?
As I love history, I want to urge everyone to read Victor Davis Hanson’s — Mediterranean Reflections on What Went Wrong. He compares the decline of the ancient Roman World to that of California. The Money Quote:
In California we are spending hundreds of billions on prisons, in which killers and thugs sue constantly for expanded rights, while universities lay off professors (though rarely nonacademic apparatchiks and administrators), and turn away students. Ravenna invested in thousands of hours of sculpture, we in thousands of hours of legal work in appeals and writs. Our cynical intellectual elites are becoming ever more postmodern even as the undereducated majority becomes premodern.
The state spends more and more on redistributive entitlements, less and less on infrastructure. Its population is bifurcating. A small, highly taxed elite supports museums, the arts, and gives to universities, a growing underclass swarms the emergency rooms, criminal justice system, and welfare roles.
The utopianism of the shrinking elite wants the Saturday night felon to have sophisticated jurisprudence when he is arrested, the best brain surgeon when a .44 magnum enters his skull in a gang dust-up, and humane day care, health care, and counseling—and yet now has no way any longer either to pay for it, or how to convince the growing underclass to become better educated and more productive. (To do so would demand a tragic diction and mindset).
One percent of Californians pays over 40% of our income taxes, perhaps as few as 360,000 out of some 36 million in the state. Each time one of these golden gooses flies east to no-tax Nevada, we lose about $50,000-80,000 in state taxes—or the money to keep a felon in the Corcoran prison house fed, housed, medicated, and counseled for a year. Do the math: one small businessman escapes to Tahoe or Reno, one lifer has no support.