14 Mar 2009

Pot, Meet Kettle

Tom Birmingham, the warrior king of the Westlands Water District, is out fighting for his People -- claiming that reductions in water exports (to save the Delta smelt and ecology) have nothing to do with reality:
"In the Central Valley, communities are facing catastrophic consequences. The federal government has announced that farmers we serve will receive no water to grow their crops. And another set of federal authorities are demanding that we waste hundreds of thousands of acre feet of freshwater into the ocean on behalf of an endangered minnow that will not benefit in any way from the losses suffered by the people who rely on water supplied by the Central Valley Project," Birmingham said.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to enjoin the enforcement of a biological opinion by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that has cut water supplies to two-thirds of California's residents by approximately 30 percent.

"We are not trying to upset the Endangered Species Act," said Birmingham. "We are trying to ensure that the Act is implemented in a manner consistent with its requirement that decisions be based on the basis of the best available science."

The lawsuit cites numerous instances in which USFWS officials violated their own standards for scientific accuracy, contradicted their own findings, and substituted their own suppositions for hard evidence.

"On top of the enormous economic damage this biological opinion has done to millions of people, it has also had sweeping environmental impacts that have even complicated the survival of California's salmon fisheries," Birmingham said. "And yet, they did no environmental impact analysis before issuing their decree."
Hey Tom! Where is your study justifying "the enormous economic damage this biological opinion has done to millions of people"? Last I heard, it was 80,000 lost jobs and $2 billion in damages. That may be a lot in Westlands, but that's 0.4 percent of California's labor force and 0.1 percent of the State's economy.

I am NOT saying that this economic contraction is easy; I am saying that you appear to be claiming more importance than your situation justifies. (And I am sure that we would agree that more water markets would benefit Westlands as well as the other water users suffering in this man-made shortage.)

Bottom Line: In the fight to get water, the first casualty is truth.