DELTA TUNNELS: Faux Public Hearing Tuesday, July 28, Sacramento

ADVISORY: for Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Contact:
Brian Smith, 415-320-9384, [email protected]
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

DELTA TUNNELS: Faux Public Hearing Tuesday, July 28, Sacramento
Restore the Delta activists plan to “Transform the Open House”

Sacramento – On Tuesday, July 28, the first of two “open houses” will be held on the Delta Tunnels EIR/EIS (formerly known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.)

Four buses of Restore the Delta activists are coming to Sacramento from cities around the Bay-Delta. They plan to “Transform the Open House” with a spirited and respectful outpouring of opposition to Jerry Brown’s plan to build massive underground water tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries.

The format for these “open houses” will be very restricted. There will be no formal presentation to the public by agencies promoting the project, and no time set aside for the public to express their concerns in a community setting. Instead, these faux public hearings are being called “open houses” set up like a science fair. The public will move from one exhibit to the next, and perhaps have a chance to give a comment to the court reporter in attendance.

The two “open houses” are scheduled for:
– Sacramento – Tuesday July 28, 2015, 3:00 to 7:00pm, Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, Magnolia Room, 1230 J Street
– Walnut Grove – Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 3:00 to 7:00pm, Jean Harvie Senior and Community Center, 14273 River Road

At similar events last year, the public could not record answers, wear t-shirts promoting Delta organizations, or make public comments in a community setting.

“Is this an attempt to get the public to ‘shut up’ about our opposition to this expensive and destructive project as Governor Brown has asked us to?” asks Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

On the street outside the Sacramento hearing, a video crew will interview people to share their actual public comments with the Secretary Jewell at the Department of the Interior and with President Obama.

BACKGROUND
The Revised BDCP EIR/EIS at 48,000 pages of appendices, footnotes, tables, and renumbered alternatives is now open for public comment. The original 45-day comment period was met with outrage by community groups and agencies. The comment period has now been extended until October 30, 2015.

Written comments are due by close of business Friday, Oct. 30. Comments should be mailed to BDCP/WaterFix Comments, P.O. Box 1919, Sacramento, CA 95812 or emailed to [email protected]

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Restore the Delta Files Protest Over State Water Board’s Changes to Delta Outflows

For Immediate Release: 7/23/15
 
Contact:
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, (209) 479-2053, [email protected], @RestoretheDelta
Tim Stroshane, Policy Analyst, Restore the Delta (510) 847-7556 [email protected]

Restore the Delta Files Protest Over State Water Board’s Changes to Delta Outflows
Board is picking winners and losers in a drought

Sacramento – Restore the Delta has filed a protest and request for consideration with the State Water Resources Control Board over its prior “Temporary Urgent Change Petitions” regarding water exports, Delta outflows, and water quality standards for the SF Bay-Delta estuary during the drought.
 
In its protest, RTD bases its request in three key areas: the existing Temporary Urgency Change Petition does not serve the public interest, is contrary to law, and is resulting in an adverse environmental impact on the Bay-Delta estuary.
 
Among the claims in the letter:

  • The SWRCB has failed to implement the reduced Delta reliance policy mandated by the Legislature in the 2009 Delta Reform Act which intended to increase water importers’ reliance on local and regional supplies, drought-resistant supplies like water recycling, etc.
  • The CVP & SWP treated their supplies in 2013 and 2014 as though a long-term drought would not occur, exporting from the Delta for today, never mind future years’ supplies.
  • The SWRCB has yet to analyze and balance the value of water exports with the value of water to fisheries to Delta communities.

Read the letter here: http://restorethedelta.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/RTD-pet_protest-20150721.pdf
 
“We’ve asked the State Water Resources Control Board to do a post-mortem on how management of the state and federal projects and Board actions since the start of the drought contributed to the present depleted water supplies,” said Restore the Delta policy analyst, Tim Stroshane. “As a consequence of their actions—not just the dry conditions—state and federal water officials have placed the entire water system at risk of failure next year if this winter isn’t wet enough, including the Delta exports they’ve favored since 2012.”
 
“The Water Board's claim to have balanced the needs for exported water against available supplies has been overstated within the TUCP,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. "The board decided that the needs of water exporters are of a higher value than the health of the estuary and the people and fish who depend on it staying healthy.  People in the Delta and in coastal communities are dependent on freshwater flows to protect fisheries, farms, and drinking water supplies. Delta fisheries are on the verge of extinction.  If water quality is so bad that we lose the fisheries that means Delta water quality is unfit for our communities as well."
 
Restore the Delta has been at center recently of the fight to protect the Delta on three fronts: a defense against Governor Brown's effort to build the Delta tunnels; Federal legislation that would allow for the over pumping of the Delta; and regulatory suspension of water quality and quantity standards for the Delta, contributing to the decimation of fisheries and protection of public trust resources.

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Agencies Promoting Delta Water Diversions Asked to Correct Tunnel Vision

For Immediate Release, July 22, 2015

Contact: Robert Wright, Friends of the River, (916) 442-3155 x 207, [email protected]
Conner Everts, Environmental Water Caucus, (310) 804-6615, [email protected]
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, (209) 479-2053, [email protected]
Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185, [email protected]

Agencies Promoting Delta Water Diversions Asked to
Correct Tunnel Vision
State and Federal Agencies Ignoring Delta Ecosystem Improvement Alternatives

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Conservation groups in California warned regulators today that their rush to approve construction of massive water-diversion tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta violates state and federal laws. The letter sent to federal and state agencies that are promoting the so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP)/California Water Fix underscored the agencies’ failure to consider alternatives that would reduce diversions and increase freshwater flows through the Delta.

“Governor Brown and the tunnel-promoting agencies have a bad case of tunnel vision, and have ignored all requests for a Delta plan with true alternatives that reduce fresh water diversions and protect the Delta,” said Robert Wright, senior counsel for Friends of the River. “The Environmental Water Caucus developed a Responsible Exports Plan alternative and handed it to BDCP agencies on a silver platter. Other agencies ranging from the National Academy of Sciences to the Environmental Protection Agency have also called for real alternatives. Instead, BDCP agencies have released another flawed environmental review document that fails to comply with our environmental laws.”

The environmental coalition is calling on BDCP agencies to reject the water plan and prepare a new Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement that would include a range of real Delta restoration alternatives, instead of just replicating the same water-diversion and conveyance project “dressed up in different outfits.” The groups wrote that “instead of sharply defining the issues and providing a clear basis for choice among options, the BDCP consultants have produced 48,000 pages of conclusory Water Tunnels advocacy.” BDCP agencies have ignored repeated requests to develop and consider real alternatives in order to “stack the deck” making it easier to adopt the Water Tunnels alternative.

“In addition to protecting the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, and making more water for California, the Environmental Water Caucus plan for water efficiency would actually create more jobs for California than a large and expensive project like the Delta Tunnels,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta’s executive director. “The U.S. Alliance for Water Efficiency says that 22 jobs can be created for every $1 million spent on water efficiency. In stark contrast, the revised BDCP EIR, reveals that the tunnels at best would make about 5.5 jobs for every $1 million of public investment, less than half the job creation of most construction spending.”

“The fix is in for the twin tunnels project, which has always been merely a huge water grab with some window dressing. Now the so-called ‘California Water Fix’ has abandoned any pretense of habitat protection,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This disastrous water-export plan will hand over massive diversion tunnels to corporate agribusiness and lock in the current over-pumping of water from the Delta, decimating our native fish runs and speeding up the extinction of endangered salmon, steelhead, smelt and sturgeon.”

Read the letter here.

Friends of the River, California’s statewide river conservation organization, protects and restores California rivers by influencing public policy and inspiring citizen action. www.friendsoftheriver.org

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org

Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign of more than 20,000 people devoted to saving the San Francisco Bay Delta estuary for our children and future generations. www.restorethedelta.org

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In Case You Missed It: Articles of Interest on Gov. Brown’s Tunnels

Contact:
Brian Smith, 415-320-9384, [email protected]
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209-479-2053, [email protected]

In Case You Missed It…

Revised Delta Tunnels EIR Further Worsens The Project’s Already Lousy Economics
http://valleyecon.blogspot.com/2015/07/revised-delta-tunnels-eir-further.html

“In 2012, I estimated the net benefits of the Tunnels’ as -$6 billion. In 2013, BDCP consultants estimated +$5 billion. Virtually all of the $11 billion difference was driven by differing water yield estimates that were entirely due to the regulatory assurance (50-year permit) assumption. After these changes, I think my -$6 billion from 2012 look overly generous, and something like -$8 billion in net benefits seems more likely.
“The project just keeps getting worse for the water exporters. If the water agencies’ leaders were really looking out for their ratepayers and the best interests of the state, they would drop it. But they won’t, although some are starting to waver in their support.”

– Jeffrey Michael, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Business and Policy Research and Associate Professor, Eberhardt School of Business, UOP

The Cheapest Way to Beat the Drought? Stop Farming Lousy Land
Mineral buildup in the western San Joaquin Valley is killing crops and birds, leading many to say it shouldn’t be farmland at all.
http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/07/14/retiring-farmland-california

“According to a new report from the economic research firm EcoNorthwest, California could save 455,000 acre-feet of water annually—more than three-quarters of what Los Angeles uses in a year—if the state and federal government were to buy out farmers tilling some 343,000 acres of the “drainage impaired lands” that make up nearly half the San Luis. When used to irrigate farms on poor-draining land that contains high levels of salt, selenium, and boron, that water can poison crops and wildlife alike.
“…retiring the 300,000 acres—which would cost between $740 million and $793 million—would be 25 times less expensive than Gov. Jerry Brown’s $15.5 billion plan to build water tunnels through the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta.”

DELTA TUNNELS – Public Demands More Time for Review
http://www.friendsoftheriver.org/site/DocServer/7_16_15_comment_time_ext_req.pdf?docID=10261

“The short public comment period looks like a deliberate effort to make it virtually impossible for members of the public to be able to comprehend and respond with meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQP document. The BDCP agencies took almost one year to prepare the new documents and there is no public need for haste in providing too short a comment period.
“The groups note that despite more than 18,000 public comments on the original draft EIR/EIS, and despite repeated requests since December 2013, officials have refused to post any of the detailed comments by organizations or public agencies on the BDCP website.
“This deliberate concealment of independent and contrary views and information from the public also now makes it more difficult for the public to prepare meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQA documents…. Moreover, comments such as those from the EPA and Army Corps constitute critical new information that would be the foundation for many informed comments at this time.”

10 Questions Delta Tunnels Boosters Don’t Want Asked
http://restorethedelta.org/blog/10-questions-delta-tunnels-boosters-dont-want-asked/

1. How will construction of the tunnels over a fourteen-year period help with drought?
2. Will the state conduct a full cost-benefit analysis of the project that includes the value of freshwater to the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary?…

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DELTA TUNNELS – Public Demands More Time for Review

For Immediate Release: 7/16/2015

Contact:
Bob Wright – Senior Counsel, Friends of the River 916-442-3155 x207 [email protected]
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta 209-479-2053 [email protected]
Conner Everts – Environmental Water Caucus 310-804-6615 [email protected]

DELTA TUNNELS – Public Demands More Time for Review
Expedited process makes informed feedback on massive plan “virtually impossible.”

Sacramento, CA – In a letter sent to federal and state agencies today, a broad coalition of nonprofit environmental and community organizations, and California Indian Tribes called for more time for the public to consider “one of the most controversial public works projects in California history.”

Read the letter here:
http://www.friendsoftheriver.org/site/DocServer/7_16_15_comment_time_ext_req.pdf?docID=10261

The letter sent today to the Department of the Interior, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Department of Water Resources decried the accelerated 45-day public comment period and seeks an extension to a standard 120-day comment period that will close on November 14, 2015.

In the letter, the groups say:

“The short public comment period looks like a deliberate effort to make it virtually impossible for members of the public to be able to comprehend and respond with meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQP document. The BDCP agencies took almost one year to prepare the new documents and there is no public need for haste in providing too short a comment period.”

The groups note that despite more than 18,000 public comments on the original draft EIR/EIS, and despite repeated requests since December 2013, officials have refused to post any of the detailed comments by organizations or public agencies on the BDCP website.

“This deliberate concealment of independent and contrary views and information from the public also now makes it more difficult for the public to prepare meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQA documents…. Moreover, comments such as those from the EPA and Army Corps constitute critical new information that would be the foundation for many informed comments at this time.”

The letter also notes that the Department of Water Resources has declared it will not produce technical documents requested by public interest groups until August 28, 2015, just three days before the 45-day comment period ends.

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