Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Smelt Stink

A couple years back, the editor of Range was kind enough to dig through her stacks and send me a copy of the Winter 1999 issue of that fine magazine.

I wanted that issue because it contained an interview with Kieran Suckling, right, the founder of the environmental litigation mill, the Center for Biological Diversity (here, here, here).

In the article, authore J. Zane Walley pushed Suckling hard and got this exchange:
Walley: You're creating rural refugees!

Suckling: It's more than rural. I'm dealing with the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Los Angeles. Thirteen million people are used to getting their water this way, I say that's geat, but we're going to show them a different way to do it!

Walley: You are forcing change on society, and are you aware of it?

Suckling: Yeah! Isn't that what an activist is? What do you think an activist is? We change society!

Walley: Can't you do this in a humane and gentle way?

Suckling: It is sad, but I don't hear you put that in a direct relationship to the effect on the land. I hear you talk about the pain of the people but I don't see you match that up with the pain of the species.

Walley: What?

Suckling: A loach minnow is more important than say, Betty and Jim's ranch. A thousand times more important.
Recapping: At the end, Suckling does say that a minnow -- one little minnow, not an entire species of minnow -- is more important than the livelihood of a family.

And earlier, he said flat out that he intends to use litigation to halt water deliveries throughout the West, in order to depopulate the land.

Minnows, water, forced depopulation -- keep that in mind as you read this:
To protect a tiny imperiled fish, state water officials Thursday turned off the huge pumps that send water to Southern California from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Water Resources Director Lester Snow said he hoped that the shutdown would last no more than seven to 10 days, adding that it should not hurt deliveries to most State Water Project customers.

"People will have water. Nobody is going without water," Snow said. "We would not expect to see rationing."
Well, that depends. If the water in the Delta doesn't warm up soon, causing the fish to move back towards the Bay and away from the pumps, Southern California and Central Valley agriculture will be in a severe water shortage.
The state acted after more than 200 young delta smelt were killed at the south delta pumps over Memorial Day weekend. The population of the native fish had fallen precipitously in recent years and surveys last month found record low numbers of larval smelt.

"Drastic times call for drastic measures," Snow said. "While there are clearly many factors at play in the current decline of smelt in the delta, we must act on the one that is within our control."

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs a smaller set of delta pumps at which nearly 300 smelt have been killed recently, also announced that it was substantially cutting pumping rates for now.
None of this would be happening were it not for things:
  1. Lawsuits by the Center and other eco-freak law firms posing as environmental groups that challenged Delta pumping on the grounds that it was harmful to the Delta Smelt, and

  2. The failure in the early 1980s of a measure to build the Peripheral Canal, which would have brought water to SoCal and the Valley by circumventing the fragile Delta ecosystem.
I could add a third point, that the Center found a liberal judge crazy enough to go along with these shenanigans, but that's so obvious it hardly deserves a bullet of its own.

I have friends in the water industry who know full well what the impact of pump shut-downs will be on the state -- and they're all for shutting them down. It's the train wreck school of public policy: You won't get change until there's a train wreck.

Here's another example of the train wreck driver: FEMA is touring the country now demanding verfication that flood control levees are certified -- after the Katrina train wreck.

My water friends hope that forced rationing will lead to public acceptance of a new water project -- one that definitely won't be called the Peripheral Canal -- to skirt the delta and bring water directly south.

Suckling and his ilk will be ready to sue. Stop the proposition, stop the construction, stop the pumps, stop progress, stop people, stop dreams.

And they are the "progressives?" Please!

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