Trump is coming; Trump is going.

Trump is coming back next week to talk about CA water. I swear, I’d pay each of you reporters TEN CASH DOLLARS if you skipped writing the explainers afterwards about why Trump didn’t make any sense. We know he isn’t going to make sense. He’s going to come here and garble something about how he engorged the water like no one has ever seen and he’s built sixty-seven new pumps, the best pumps, the most beautiful pumps and completely demolished the stupid little fish with his new Biographical Opinions(because he says the quiet parts loud). Fine. We know this. Trump is going to Trump.

What we don’t know is why the Newsom administration is pushing so hard for Voluntary Agreements that depend on Trump’s biological opinions. We’ve been seeing the hard sell these past weeks; I’ve been hearing rumors that the Newsom administration is strong-arming environmental organizations to say something nice about it. Gov. Newsom is staking a lot on doing the Voluntary Agreements. But there’s an angle to this that I wonder if they’ve thought about.

By this time next year, the Trump administration is likely to be gone. The next federal administration will immediately return to biological opinions that have scientific support. Then, Newsom’s Voluntary Agreements will have no cover whatsoever. It’ll be Newsom and his administration as the last governmental supporters of a biological opinion that the Trump administration had to replace real scientists to write. The  federal government will be on the left of them on CA water, and really? Really? This is where they want to be? This is what they’re alienating their natural allies in CA water forever for? To be dangling out there as the river-breakers when the federal administration changes?

I have a another objection to the Voluntary Agreements, which is that good deals don’t require bullying to get done. For whatever reason, the water districts have got the Newsom administration by the short hairs, and they have been yanking. Westlands is flouncing, which cracks me up because I remember Westlands flouncing out of talks with the Obama administration. Westlands is pure drama and don’t let anyone tell you different.  Water districts threatened to quit unless Newsom vetoed SB1; people who are developing a win-win deal don’t have to threaten each other. Now Crowfoot and his team are bullying environmental organizations to pretend the Voluntary Agreements have some promise, like these organizations don’t remember the years they earnestly went along with CALFED. Folks! Good deals don’t require bullying and strong-arming your negotiation partners, nor your allies. Good deals don’t delay actual environmental restoration by years. If you are shutting down the SWRCB, or plotting out how to bully them into submission, it isn’t a good deal.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Trump is coming; Trump is going.

  1. Noel Park

    As a long time NRDC member, I doubt very seriously that Doug Obegi is going to be bullied into anything by Gavin Newsom, Drumpf, or anybody else. Less still with Gina McCarthy backing him up. Ditto for the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice.

    As to Voluntary Agreements, I stand by my previous comments. Eyewash, and that’s being generous.

  2. It”s interesting that at a briefing this week for legislative staffers and others by NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, Golden State Salmon and other NGOs, the NGO representatives objected to the VA proposal because they asserted that it did not have adequate modeling or science to support it. They neglected to mention that the unimpaired flows approach has also seriously lacked in modeling or science. For example, the temperature modeling component of the initial phase (San Joaquin), which attempted to impose the unimpaired flows approach, consisted of a surrogate parameter of end of September reservoir storage – hardly robust science. Now that the modeling is finally being done in a manner that allows a fair comparison – and which will actually include accurate temperature modeling – the initial information released by the State Water Board in November (which, as we discussed in your previous post, is still incomplete) shows the VA proposal to be superior to the unimpaired flows approach.

    • Noel Park

      OK, you have made a believer out of me. OTPR had asked me about “unimpaired flows” and punted the question to Doug Obegi.

      Having read your comment, I have now become a committed supporters of “unimpaired flows”. Thank you.

  3. Noel Park

    I punted the question to Doug Obegi.

    Yesterday I drove home from Clovis. South of Bakersfield along the 99 I saw what must be thousands of acres of bright green alfalfa. Some of it seemed to be flood irrigated. Also numerous unlined canals, some of them quite large. They match the similar ones along the 5 south of lost hills.

    So it’s hard to see that big at is getting that serious about water conservation, or to feel very sorry for the poor nut farmers.

  4. Noel Park

    The Maven had a link yesterday to a SF Chronicle editorial urging Newsom to step up to protect the Delta.

    Aside from the fish and wildlife, taking more water out of the Delta will move the salt water/fresh water interface upstream. That could/would disrupt the water supplies of cities that draw their water out of the river/delta. Pittsburgh? Antioch? Rio Vista? Isleton? Not to mention the farmers who draw water out of the river.

    It has been seriously suggested that sea level rise may push the interface above the presently proposed intake(s) for the “conveyance” and that the intake should be moved upstream of Sacramento. I wonder what that would do to the cost?

    Clearly, the whole thing has not been thought through.

  5. Noel Park

    I note that the Maven quoted extensively from this post by OTPR today. She also provided a link to Doug Obegi’s extensive comments on the “VA”.

  6. Ted Daum

    Regarding your belief that “by this time next year, the Trump administration is likely to be gone”, don’t be too sure. The Democrat Party has obviously learned nothing from the 2016 debacle and has been doing much to benefit Trump – for example the Russiagate hysteria that, for two long years, sucked the oxygen out of the room and prevented any serious debate of the issues that the vast majority of the population not in the upper 1% (or upper 10% professional-managerial class) actually cares about; the blatant anti-Sanders bias of the DNC; the ill-timed impeachment circus; allowing gazillionaire former Republican Michael Bloomberg to buy his way into front-runner status in the Democratic primaries.

  7. Noel Park – the WaterFix intakes are already designed to address sea level rise through the late 2000’s – you may want to read up on the information on the project. And, as for the impacts of WaterFix on Delta salinity levels, it will not have a significant effect, since diversions through the tunnels would be dependent on Sacramento River flow. Sea level rise, of course, will have major impacts on salinity in the Delta, so no matter what happens with WaterFix, biological opinions, less snow and more rain, etc., unless a dam is built at the Golden Gate, salinity will increase in the Delta.

    One of the problems with the way that the Delta is operated is that it functions more as a freshwater lake than an estuary (see reports from UC Davis on this topic), including being more hospitable to freshwater lake system species, rather than native estuarine species. Moving the point of diversion for the aqueducts to the north end of the Delta will allow salinity levels to go back to varying seasonally as they used to do historically, and that coupled with the additional tidal wetland and floodplain habitat being created under the 2008/09 biological opinions and that proposed in the Voluntary Agreements will help restore some of the estuarine ecosystem that is necessary to meet Doug Obegi’s fish population improvement goals.

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