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Secret plans on water? They start with environmentalists, not the Feds.

It seems like it’s hard to click too far away from Facebook without stumbling onto screaming headlines of President Donald Trump’s secret plan to destroy California salmon or conspiracies of suppressed government reports buried deep in the swamp of Washington, D.C.

The fact is nothing has been hidden or even suppressed. The headlines, particularly one from the Los Angeles Times, are referring to a process that is proceeding exactly as it was intended.

Currently, the Bureau of Reclamation is accepting public comment on a draft environmental impact report related to updating its operations in California, especially the Central Valley Project. Public comment closes on Monday.

The EIS is a draft for a reason, as nothing incorporated in Reclamation’s plan is finalized and work on operational changes is on-going.

California water is a complicated issue and, as time passes, it appears few reporters have significant expertise on California water or the process the government undertakes for forming long-term operations, starting with the underpinning biological assessments and opinions.

They have, however, become experts at furthering a political agenda. Many times, the claims they make of their apparent opposition is exactly what they are engaging in their hit pieces.  

In this case, they are completely politicizing a process that is not new and is being carried out as it always has, while they claim the Federal government is doing that very thing. 

It’s not hard to figure out how an agenda-driven narrative such as this one was concocted. Radical environmentalists have worked hand-in-glove with allies in the media to derail potential solutions by a slyly-developed, coordinated attack on the process itself.

Lest we forget, this is a process which holds the highest priority of interpreting updated science and data while working with career professionals, scientists, and leaders in our nation’s capital.

This is also process that has taken thousands of hours and millions of dollars of investments by taxpayers and stakeholders.

And it’s a process in which most people would assume has the goals of better understanding how we can best serve people, the environment, and our economy.

Apparently, this assumption is wrong.

While completely politicizing this reassessment process in hopes of derailing real progress while utilizing the latest science, amazingly, environmentalists admit their absolute failures under previous water management criteria.

In the Los Angeles Times story unearthing the so-called secret plan, it notes that “[t]he extinction risk (to winter-run Chinook salmon) has increased since 2007..,” and “In 2015, 96% of the eggs and fry died.” 

Understand, these stories are meant to convince the reader that water in California should be managed by adhering to outdated science which produced these catastrophic failures! 

And all-too-forgotten is who will be harmed the most by their actions. Our state legislature spends countless hours and billions of taxpayer dollars to appear to be helping “disadvantaged” communities. Yet, reverting to antiquated science is redoubling the harm to these communities.

Or rather, our communities.

Instead, we’ve entered a game of picking “environments” that are deemed to need saving and those that are not.

While the current battle may be focused on mischaracterizing and politicizing a scientific process, the ultimate war is over who will serve as a casualty in a political war over livelihoods and life itself.

Wayne Western, Jr.
Wayne Western, Jr. the The Sun’s Agriculture Pulse contributor, writing on the San Joaquin Valley’s agricultural community and water issues.