Hide and Seek

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is up and running.  Staff with the California Natural Resources Agency, working under the direction of Undersecretary Jerry Meral, sent out an announcement giving community and civic groups a whole four-day notice to decide which of the thirteen working groups they would like to join.

Restore the Delta staff decided to forgo participating in this labyrinth of bureaucratic processes as it would require a significant number of staff members, which we do not have, to effectively monitor the workings of thirteen groups.  ( See our Opinion Piece in The Record from June 4, 2011.)  Clearly, this short notice given for BDCP public participation is a deliberate attempt to ensure that the public is not prepared to engage with BDCP materials in a thoughtful manner.

Then again, there’s that matter of who is really controlling the BDCP.  The former Steering Committee, which has not met since late in 2010, is no longer the primary group formulating the BDCP.  However, it is still listed on the BDCP website.  Meral reported at the last public BDPC meeting that a management committee had been formed solely to handle day-to-day operations of the BDCP.

The Management Committee, which is still not listed on the BDCP website includes a number of agency officials along with water exporters.  Restore the Delta knows that a fair number of these committee members are the people who are pushing for how large the peripheral canal should be, how it should be repackaged with “scientific” window-dressing to support project construction, and how much land and water should be stripped away from Delta fisheries and Delta communities.  The Management Committee includes:

Dr. Jerry Meral, California Resources Agency; Karla Nemeth, California Resources Agency; Scott Cantrell, Department of Fish and Game; Mark Cowin, DWR; Dale Hoffman-Florke, DWR; Cathy Crothers, DWR; Ron Miligan, Bureau of Reclamation; Sue Fry, Bureau of Reclamation, Federico Barajas, Bureau of Reclamation; Jason Peltier, Westlands Water District; Chuck Gardner, Hallmark Group; Laura King Moon, State Water Contractors; Paul Cylinder, Science Applications International; Steve Arakawa, Metropolitan Water District; Ebin Marc, Ebbin, Moser, Skaggs, LLP; Brent Walthall, Kern County Water Agency; Joan Maher, Valley Water; Spreck Rosencrans, Envirornmental Defense Fund; Michael Chotkowski, Fish and Wildlife Service; Jennifer Norris, Fish and Wildlife Service; Dan Castleberry, Fish and Wildlife Service; Maria Rea, NOAA; Michael Tucker, NOAA; and Anthony Saracino from the reliably compliant Nature Conservancy.

As stated in our recent opinion piece, while water exporters are paying for a portion of the BDCP, State and Federal officials dedicated to working on this process are funded by tax payers – all to support a predetermined outcome that supports the interest of a handful of groups in California.

While a few representatives on this committee are committed to the preservation of California’s fisheries and noble in their intentions, not one representative from the Delta has been included in this clandestine decision making body.  We heard from a second-hand source, one individual was identified from this committee as representing the Delta community – a hat he declined to wear.

Holding to this pattern of public obfuscation, BDCP staff sent out notice this past Friday afternoon (June 10, 2011) of the public  BDCP meeting that will be held this Wednesday, June 15, 2011 from 1 to 5 pm.  (Click here for meeting details.)  With such short notice, the public is once again left scrambling to attend, while Meral continues to coat the process with a veneer of transparency.

Even more intriguing, the Water Commission is holding its next meeting on Wednesday, June 15, 2011, at the exact same time as the Public Bay Delta Conservation Plan Meeting.  Item #10 on the Water Commission’s Agenda is of particular interest to the Delta community:

Briefing on statutory responsibilities of the Water Commission including naming of State Water Project facilities and eminent domain

It should be noted that Anthony Saracino, from the reliably compliant Nature Conservancy, who also serves on the Management Committee of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, is also the Chair of the Water Commission.   And we cannot help but to question why Saracino was comfortable with addressing issues of eminent domain through the Water Commission at the same time the Public Meeting of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is being held.

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