Backing off on environmental perfection

By Dennis Wyatt
Managing Editor

POSTED  May 20, 2010 2:24 a.m.


It will go down as a landmark decision.

U.S. District Judge OIiver W. Wagner ruled this week that people have rights.

That may sound a bit daffy but in the wacky world of California water politics people take second class citizen status behind fish and even vegetation.

In a nutshell, Wagner ruled that federal water officials must consider humans along with fish when it comes to divvying up how California’s most precious resource – water – is discharged or moved through the Delta. The judge also directed the federal government to stop using what he termed “guestimations” instead of precise scientific studies to determine the exact impact reduced water would have on the fish population.

The ruling pleased urban and agricultural users and disappointed fishing interests and environmentalists. The ruling could mean more water for farmers who have been devastated by three years of drought. Many have been forced to rip out orchards and take fields out of production which has had a major impact on the San Joaquin Valley economy – already dubbed the new Appalachia by the federal government poverty studies – due to the lack of water. Not only is the jobless rate pushing 30 percent in southern valley counties where agriculture is virtually the only game in town but ultimately it will mean higher food prices for all of us.

Read more…


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