Posted by: Jan | August 5, 2018

Devin Nunes is not a Friend of the Delta


Here’s a good opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee.

The writer, Mark Arax, knows a thing or two about water since he wrote a great book called “The King of California” that told the story of the cotton empire of J.G. Boswell, which had risen out of the bottom of Tulare Lake, once the biggest body of freshwater west of the Mississippi. If you have never read it, I strongly recommend it. The book tells the true history of the first farmers in the Central Valley, how they dried up the biggest (by area) lake west of the Great Lakes (yes, even bigger than the Great Salt Lake and about as shallow). The Tulare Lake would percolate down and refill the aquifers. Drying it up is much of the reason that the Central Valley is sinking as the aquifers dry up.

The editorial gives interesting insight into the thinking of the Central Valley agribusinesses that want the Delta water. Arax is also a farmer, but thinks more logically than Nunes, obviously.

In the spring of 2014, well into the drought, farmers including Arax were at a meeting. Devin Nunes, also from the Central Valley farming family and currently a US Representative, was there. Arax reports that Nunes “knew the sky hadn’t spilled enough rain in three years. He knew we [the farmers] were facing the hottest and driest spell on record. But it wasn’t drought that bedeviled our valley, he’d told us. It was a conspiracy hatched by the Communists.”

I remember the misleading Sean Hannity segment about the plight of the farmers about that same time. News footage depicted orchards uprooted, fields fallowed and equipment spoiling to rust. The truth, says Arax? “Never mind that the fallowed dirt where Hannity and Nunes were standing next to each other had produced a bounty of tomatoes the day before. One hundred feet away, beyond camera frame, acre after acre of irrigated green fields awaited harvest.”

During that timeframe, there were reports of all of the farm workers out of work, standing in food lines. It tugged at people’s hearts. Then I was told by a representative from Joan Buchanan’s office that the unemployment rate in that area is 30 percent and has been ever since harvesting machines were introduced which replace many farm workers. It was not about the smelt, but they tried to make it look that way.

But as Nunes was later quoted to say during a congressional debate, “If you tell a lie long enough, eventually people will believe you.” The people wanting our water continue to spread the lies about earthquake threats, the fish really aren’t endangered, plus they ignore the real impacts to the communities in the Delta.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad that these farmers like Nunes are so out-of-touch with the reality of the Delta and why enough water needs to remain in the north. Or it’s a ploy.

Nunes reportedly has said about groups like ours that are fighting to save the Delta, “When you look at the radical environmental fringe, there’s no question they are tied closely to the Communist Party. I have the documents that can prove it,” Nunes claimed.

Well, I know Save the California Delta Alliance and the good people of Discovery Bay aren’t Communists! But having folks like Nunes in the US Congress make it hard for our representatives to fight the lies about the issues in the Delta.

Arax says, “My neighbor farmers are still hoping Nunes might be repaid for his loyalty to Trump, that the Interior Department will gut the Endangered Species Act and free up more water for agriculture.”

That’s my fear, that the Interior Department will gut the ESA. The EPA is what finally stopped the Two-Gates Fish Protection Project which would have put dams in Old River and Connection Slough – virtually locking big boats from Discovery Bay to getting out to the rest of the Delta except when the Bacon Island Bridge is operating. If that bridge broke, people would be stranded. The EPA also kicked back the earlier BDCP plan because it wasn’t a “Habitat Conservation Plan” and instead would kill fish. Already the EPA has been weakened. Hopefully they will still step in when the WaterFix/Delta Tunnels gets to them for final sign-off.

I’m looking forward to Mark Arax’s next book: “The Dreamt Land: Chasing Dust and Water Across California”

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Responses

  1. I am shocked at this Congressman Nunes such a fat liar how do they get elected, Farmers need to stop lobbying through him.


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