7 Feb 2008

Fish versus Farmers

Farmers and environmentalists are at war over water. They are arguing over whether fish or water exports are destroying the Delta ecology; see also my prior post on bureaucratic destruction of same.
Farmers in arid Kern County last week sued the state for protecting the striper as a sportfish. They allege the nonnative striper has been allowed to damage the Delta, preying on endangered native fish, including salmon and the ghostly Delta smelt.

The new lawsuit shows that this war's front has moved beyond the traditional realm of environmentalists versus government. Rhetoric has also hardened between interest groups that have spent the past 10 years trying to cooperate on water issues.

"They're executioners," Roger Mammon said, bluntly labeling water exporters.

Mammon is a board member of the West Delta Chapter of the California Striped Bass Association. "They don't care about the Delta except that it's water and money in their pocket. I think they're full of it."

Instead, they blame water exporters – including the Kern farmers – for a bottomless thirst that has pumped Delta water to millions of homes and farm fields at a record pace over the past seven years.
Bottom Line: The environment is stressed and many things have a bad impact. I have to blame the farmers, however, since a lot more water in the area would have a much bigger impact than an invasive species (that we have little control over). The farmers, it seems, are throwing up legal barriers between now and their eventual loss of water rights. It's a long fight to restore sensible water policy (e.g., farmers pay full price for water -- perhaps in an auction for limited rights.)

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