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California water wars at AFA Forum

Paul Taylor

LOS ANGELES – The American Freedom Alliance (AFA) recently held a public forum about the impacts of California water shortages and government water allocations under today’s unprecedented drought. AFA is a growing conservative California non-profit organization that supports Western Democracies, free enterprise, property rights, limited government and the State of Israel. AFA also challenges big-government corruption, waste and incompetence, and exposes the radical agenda of the aging and partisan environmental movement. The forum presented actual farmers, vintners and ranchers that suffer from chronic battles with California water regulators and eco-groups for precious water supplies. These farmers, their families and farm workers have been under further duress as the drought now impacts the entire State of California.

In an unprecedented California government move California's water management officials announced this spring that the state water resources will effectively be closed for business. For the first time in its 54-year history, the State Water Project, which is the backbone of the California water-delivery system, will not allocate any water to the 25 million people and 1 million acres of farmland that it serves. This historic drought extends from north to south across parts of 11 California counties, including Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito, Merced, Fresno, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Madera, Kings and Tulare.

About 75% of California’s water supply comes from north of Sacramento, while 80% of the water demand occurs in the southern two-thirds of the state. Approximately 80% of California water is used by the agricultural industry and farmers. This water irrigates almost 29 million acres, which grows 350 different crops. Urban users consume 10% of the water, and other industry receives less than 10% of the water supply.

In a radical-green scheme to help a fish that’s on the Endangered Species Act list -- the Delta Smelt fish species -- federal restrictions have severely cut deliveries to water systems that serve millions of people in Central and Southern California. While farms and businesses try to survive water supply deficits, more than 81 billion gallons of water have been federally-directed to flow out through the Sacramento Delta, to the San Francisco Bay and out to the Pacific Ocean to protect the aquatic habitat that the Federal Government deems to be "critical" for the survival of the Delta Smelt fish. This water released for the Delta Smelt fish could have put 85,000 acres of farmland back into production.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated “critical habitat” in the Sacramento River Delta for the Delta Smelt fish species in 1994. Accordingly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1996 implemented the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta Native Fishes Recovery Plan requiring thousands of acres of surface water critical habitat in Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, and Yolo Counties to be protected as Delta Smelt fish habitat. This protection includes public water diversions to maintain the aquatic habitat of Delta Smelt fish, while denying full water allocations to farmers, industry and residential users.

How does this happen? This happens by way of the following steps:
1. A plant or animal species somewhere in America is adopted for study by some academic researcher for graduate credit or under a grant from a non-profit or government entity, and this species research is published with a finding that field surveys show that the species numbers and/or its habitat are declining;
2. A government wildlife regulator and/or a non-profit eco-group take the academic researchers findings of species decline, and petition government regulators to list the species for protection as “endangered or threatened” under the “Endangered Species Act”;
3. Once the species is officially listed, government regulators are required under the Endangered Species Act to identify (map) certain “critical habitat” to be protected for “recovery” or re-establishment of sustainable breeding populations of that listed species in such habitats;
4. Under the Endangered Species Act, both public and private lands (and waters) may be designated as “critical habitat, “ and therefore such lands and waters cannot be “modified” or impacted in any way to harm the listed species, directly or indirectly. Neither human needs nor ownerships of the designated critical habitat lands or waters are weighed equitably when the government regulators take control. You must even get a government permit to study the protected species and their habitat, on your own land.

Environmentalist eco-groups take tax deductible donations from you, foundations and corporations to operate global fear-mongering campaigns about often theoretical problems of pollution, species extinction and climate change. These eco-groups also lobby intensely for costly and partisan government regulations to grow bigger government. As taxpayer-subsidized nonprofits, these environmental group assets for eco-propaganda, lobbying and litigation have grown to almost $2 billion annually. Over the last decade, U.S. eco-groups have also been subsidized by receiving some 7,500 U.S. EPA grants totaling over $3.8 billion. These green groups spent more than $20 million in the last off-year election campaigns on partisan green propaganda. This while the I.R.S. Code Section 501(c)(3) specifically limits nonprofit organization spending on “propaganda” and political endorsements.

Progressive and partisan non-profit eco-groups damage the American economy by cynically gaming the environmental regulatory system for media attention, fund raising and evermore gratuitous government regulations. They routinely sue American industries and government to stop energy, infrastructure, land use, manufacturing, agriculture and job growth. They also file hundreds of lawsuits every year claiming the Federal Government is not enforcing enough job-killing environmental regulations under the guise of “citizen suits” in Federal Courts via the Equal Access to Justice Act. Some frequent “green litigants” include: The Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund and Green Peace. Please note that the executive officers at most of these litigious green eco-groups are lawyers making six-figure salaries.

This is how the Feds put the fish before the farmers.

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