It isn’t like I knew anything behind the scenes when I wrote that last piece. I am so far down in the department; I hear no inside gossip. I read the news and find out about stuff that way. When I wrote that last piece, it was pure reasoning about what makes sense. But now y’all are starting to write to me, and I heard that my flippant last paragraph is, in fact, true. Secret people tell me that the big boys are huddling, trying to figure out how to get out of the shitstorm. Westlands, of course you can’t believe I’m sincere, but I am telling you truly. This is perfect for you. This is your chance. If you had planned this, I would be in awe. This is how you start the extortion to move on to your next incarnation. You can back out of that mess you made and get going on your new career in solar power in one move. You don’t deserve your good luck.
The key here is that you pulled this shit in the jobs bill. Your plausible retreat is to keep talking about jobs. You are so sorry you acted so rashly, but when you think of all those farmworkers out of work in Mendota, you just lose your head. But now you’ve realized you don’t want to destroy the environment, you want protect it. You don’t want to fight climate change to hold on to the industry of the last century; as stewards, so close to the earth, you realize you have to adapt to the reality of climate change. You want to lead the way into green energy generation. You know better than anyone that there is less annual run-off. That means less hydropower. You feel the hotter summers, meaning increased energy demand for air conditioning. You have hundreds of thousands of acres of land to put to use, and some available water for dust control and cooling. You yearn to put people back to work in this exciting new industry. You have always been adaptable. You have always worked with new technologies. You have sunshine. Pres. Obama loves green energy. You could be poster children, like British Petroleum.
You would drop this rider that has gotten people so riled up if Congress promised to get jobs for all those workers you love so much. Jobs installing subsidized solar farms, that you would own. The west side would also need some new substations and transmission, and you would be willing to sell the easements for those transmission lines, if need arose. You could tie into a methane harvestor at the CAFO in Coalinga! New infrastructure means construction jobs. Surely the kit fox could co-exist with solar panels!
Sen. Feinstein has been such a wonderful advocate for the Valley, and campaigned on climate change in her 2006 re-election campaign. Surely an experienced and tireless worker for California is just the person to connect growers in Westlands with the solar power sharks who are putting in bids on BLM lands in the desert. This is a chance to shed a few controversial desert projects as well, and I bet you could score some points with Interior for that.
Westlands, when are you going to get a better opportunity to make a good future for your district? People will give you a lot to make this jobs bill rider go away smoothly, or if you play rough, they’ll force it down your throat and be mad at you everywhere else you go. What good would two years get you? The chance to worry about your drainage, to worry about the Delta-Mendota Canal, to start whatever new groundwater regulations are coming down the pike? You giving good odds to a favorable Farm Bill next time around? You could jump on a new bandwagon right now, and start becoming a solar power empire. Think of it. Think of the all the subsidies in a start-up industry. Think of getting in early in a new field, when prices are volatile and people don’t know what to pay yet. Think about getting your smaller growers out of bankruptcy. Think of setting your corporate growers loose in an unsettled legal frontier. For that matter, imagine being policy wonks in a field that Reisner didn’t ever write about. Think of not having to give a damn about fish. Think of ditching the endless, dull salt management talks. Think of not even caring whether the stupid bond passes. Dream about not even paying attention to the February revision of the contract allocations.
This is your two-fer, Westlands. You want to keep being farmers, facing huge problems on all fronts? You looking forward to walking back into BDCP and listening to those hippies talk about fish and marsh plants? Are you expecting any good news from anywhere, or do you only fight to delay the collapse? But you have a bargaining chip now: how easily you’ll give up this rider. Use it to start your new empire. Pretend jobs (and the environment) are the reasons. You’ve got the cover of a jobs bill, the momentum of an administration who wants to do stuff in energy, and a senator who needs to save face on this.
Or, you know. Let your growers collapse individually, go into bankruptcy, and have someone else come in to collect the pieces to put solar in the west side. Whichever.