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Sacramento Delta Fish Under Threat From Billionaire Water Thieves

On November 16 the California Fish and Game Commission decided to postpone consideration of a controversial proposed striped bass regulation that would wipe out the population of the fish in the Sacramento Delta, which is where we live. The striped bass has been fished here for over 130 years, however, the species is facing the same fate as the chinook salmon, Delta smelt, long fin smelt and green sturgeon. Populations of those fish have been decimated or eradicated as a result of the state’s policy of pumping water from the Delta to the powerful farmers in Southern California. The huge populations of Los Angeles and San Diego can outvote the rest of the state once the farmers get their support by threatening to raise food prices if water prices are increased.

The Department of Fish and Game proposed the regulation after a court settlement of a lawsuit brought against it by the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta (CSD). As is usual with this kind of “Astroturfing”, the name is the exact opposite of the probably effect. CSD is an agribusiness political action group representing San Joaquin Valley corporate growers. It is housed in the headquarters of Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms. Resnick, a Beverly Hills billionaire and the largest tree fruit grower in the world, wields a lot of political influence in Sacramento. His organizations have made tens of millions of dollars annually from buying and reselling water back to the state for a big profit. He is a big advocate of state and federal plans to export more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to his and other farms in Central and Southern California. It’s not a coincidence that state and federal governments are fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal to pump more Delta water down there.

Resnick’s plans are being opposed by Delta residents, Indian Tribes, family farmers, business owners, fishermen, conservationists and environmental justice advocates. They argue that using the peripheral canal to divert more water from an area that is already suffering the consequences of a diminished water supply would lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon and other Delta fish populations. The powerful agribusiness lobby insists on over-farming land that is meant to be desert and resists eco-friendly farming methods that use far less water. This is yet another example of government being manipulated by the over-wealthy top 1% of Americans. Occupy Wall Street just got some new recruits.

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