Never mind the NHA. Keep your eye on the Department of Interior.

We now know something about what has been going on the BDCP Principals’ meetings, (which were not “secret” but which anybody present had to promise not to talk about).

We reported on October 10 that Lester Snow has said that decision-making about the BDCP would take place in public meetings. 

Forget that.

Last week Interior Secretary Salazar met with the State and the Principals.  His deputy, David Hayes, said that Delta conveyance is necessary and that “short term” protections and restoration of the Delta should be weakened.   We shouldn’t be surprised at this position, considering that Hayes was formerly an attorney with a firm that represented the Metropolitan Water District.  Before that, he was one of the architects of the failed Cal Fed process.

Salazar isn’t contradicting Hayes.  David Nawi, Senior Advisor to Secretary Salazar for California and Nevada, is apparently deferring to Salazar and Hayes on this issue.

On November 9, Salazar is scheduled to meet with BDCP Principals in Washington, D.C.  The expectation is that the product of the Principals’ meetings, a report titled “Issues for Discussion for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan” (available at here) will form the basis of a federal/State agreement. 

This is the report that Lester Snow said was not a draft plan, just a progress report on what has been considered throughout the planning process.

A public draft of the BDCP and a draft EIR/EIS are coming due.  It has become apparent to everyone that they won’t be ready.  Alternative approaches?  There don’t seem to be any.  The long, costly BDCP charade may be coming to any end as the State and the feds push forward with the conveyance they always wanted.

Once again, as so often in the past, environmental protections are being treated as an inconvenience.  It will be interesting to watch the Department of Interior contradict the biological opinions that shaped the most recent pumping limits.

And, of course with increased pumping, fragile fisheries hanging on by a thread may be wiped out all together.  Then again, that may be the intent.  No need to protect fish species that no longer exist.

The expectation is that Interior will lift pumping restrictions soon.

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