11 February 2011

Greenwashing update

Tom Birmingham claims [pdf] that Westlands is California's economic engine:*
Unfortunately, this allocation forecast also shows how broken California’s water delivery system is... This is further evidence that if we are going to sustain the economy of this state, we have to fix the Delta problem
Westlands Water District's last annual report (2006 [pdf]) does not mention the value of crops grown, but I recollect that Birmingham said WWD crops were worth a billion dollars. Let's double that and then divide by the State's economic output (approximately $1,800 billion). So Westlands farmers are responsible for 2/1800 = 0.001 or one-tenth of one percent of California's economy. I'm not sure that Westlands is "sustaining" very much in the State, but I am sure that the cheap CVP water that taxpayers subsidize for Westlands "sustains" them.

Speaking of delusions, the Water Advocacy Coalition claims that the revocation of a permit for a single coal mining operation will produce:
implications [that] could be staggering, reaching all areas of the U.S. economy including but not limited to the agriculture, home building, mining, transportation and energy sectors...[disallowing the permit will] chill investment and job creation.
Wow. World War III? No. WAC poses as an environmental organization (homepage: protect my water), but they are really a front for a who's who of businesses that prefer "progress" to the environment. I'd prefer them to call their website "exploiting your water."

Bottom Line: Some facts may be obvious, but that doesn't keep people from misrepresenting them as they try to take advantage of trusting people who do not have time to check for lies and deception.

* Birmingham may also claim that Westlands "provides over 50% of the food supply for the United States," but he may be claiming that farmers using BurRec water do that. The first claim is batshit crazy; the second appears to be right -- for ALL irrigated land.

HTs to LC and DG


  1. See....I told you so! Thank you for lending credibility to my comment on your previous post!

  2. David...It’s easy to throw around terms like “subsidize” when it comes to water deliveries but most people do not understand the term. It would be interesting to learn how you define a water subsidy.

    Also, it is important to recognize the off-farm value of crops produced on a farm. University economists apply a multiplier of three to crop value to arrive at a dollar contribution to the economy. These off-farm jobs include transportation, processing, marketing, etc. Also important are the lives that are touched as food produced on the farm finds its way to the dinner tables around the world.

    Mike Wade
    California Farm Water Coalition

  3. Truth is a beautiful thing. Thank you, Vigilante of Spin.

  4. CVP water is subsidized a number of different ways, the largest being the decision to let users repay the capital expense with a ten year grace period and then a 40 year repayment schedule WITHOUT INTEREST. This feature alone is a significant subsidy from all of us to the beneficiaries of the project. There are other subsidies as well.

  5. @Mike -- a subsidy is when some gives you something of value (a right or cash) for a price that's less than what others would pay. In some ways, water rights are not a form of subsidy (they are property), but in other ways they are (rights to use the People's water), especially when the rights holders go on to produce goods that are worth less socially.

    Damian identifies another subsidy.

    Your 3x multiplier is BS. That's like saying that the $10 difference between the cost of food and cost of my restaurant meal should be attributed to the farmer. No, it's attributed to the restaurant (as a production organization) that adds value. Stick with $1=$1.

    And.... "lives that are touched"? Do you work for Hallmark now? Geez.

  6. I think Mike is referring to IMPLAN models where an extra jolt of spending is shown to show up in different sectors, etc. But If I produce an orange, it may be worth $1 on the tree, $1.25 picked, and $1.50 once trucked to the store. So while other jobs are involved and dependent on harvesting, their value added is included in the price of the orange at whatever stage you choose to price it. So if I claim that my oranges sell for $1.50 at safeway, and then I want to add in the trucking and picking and supermarket values as well, that would be double counting...This seem reasonable?

    So while agriculture does perhaps tie in to a lot of the state's economy, if it dried up, those other services would not necessarily also dry up, and this is the fallacy of input output analysis - it assumes that there is no substitution as things change.


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