38 ENVIRONMENTAL, FISHING, CONSUMER ADVOCATES TO U.S. INTERIOR SECRETARY: “ENORMOUS MISTAKE” IN THE OFFING WITH PERIPHERAL CANAL/TUNNEL

SACRAMENTO, CA – Restore the Delta today released a letter from thirty-eight environmental, fishing, consumer, Native American and other groups alerting the U.S. Interior Secretary and the Obama Administration that it is “poised to make an enormous mistake…and potentially drag the American people along with it,” by backing “construction of a world-record-size tunnel or pipes capable of diverting 15,000 cubic feet per second from the Sacramento River – nearly all of its average freshwater flow.” The large coalition sounded the alarm after the Brown Administration informed them that the State intends to proceed with construction of a Peripheral Canal or Tunnel that the groups write “would have devastating ecological impacts.” The groups said the “$20 to $50 billion dollars project was extremely controversial and will primarily serve to deliver Sacramento River water, through State and Federal pumps, to provide subsidized irrigation water to corporate agricultural operations of the western San Joaquin Valley.” The letter is noteworthy in placing on record a powerful coalition that could delay or defeat the proposed water-export project. The letter was signed by Sierra Club California, Environmental Water Caucus, Friends of the River, California Water Impact Network, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Food and Water Watch, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the Planning and Conservation League and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, as well as twenty-nine other organizations.

“The Department of the Interior has a duty to protect the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. Diverting its largest fresh water source through a pipe or tunnel will destroy this amazing tapestry of fisheries and family farms. Supporting the State of California in its aim of building a $51 billion canal or tunnel and then figuring out how to operate it later simply cannot be defended in the eyes of the public. Restore the Delta calls on Secretary Salazar to do the right thing and to ensure that the public trust is protected,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

“We urge you to … reject these unsustainable water demands and their high public costs, and instead invest in more efficient use of our scarce water resources through cost-effective water conservation and recycling. This will not only protect the pocket books of millions of California ratepayers and U.S. taxpayers, but will help ensure that legally-required salmon doubling goals, estuary restoration, and public trust values are honored for future generations. The planning for California’s water future must return to a lawful, science-based, inclusive, and transparent process. The San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary must not be stripped of the freshwater flows upon which so many vital public trust
resources and West Coast communities depend. From its inception, this plan has been crafted by, and for, South-of-Delta exporters. They have used their economic power to influence and rush this half-cocked, multi-billion dollar water tunnel,” the groups urged.

“The idea that you’re going to commit to building a $50 billion tunnel around the Delta that current science demonstrates won’t protect the estuary, and only later
revise the science, develop assurances and decide how to operate it simply doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. “You can bathe this pig in perfume
and apply lipstick, but it still won’t fly.”

The complete letter is posted at www.restorethedelta.org.

Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve@hopcraft.com

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara@restorethedelta.org 

 

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