Marin water measures have statewide impact

In a contest with implications for water agencies up and down California, voters in Marin County on Tuesday will decide between dueling ballot initiatives over a plan to turn seawater into drinking water.

Both measures require a public vote before the Marin Municipal Water District could build a 5-million-gallon-a-day desalination facility on the shoreline in San Rafael. But the measure proffered by a vocal group of desalination opponents bans the water agency from spending any money prior to construction, including funds for permitting, engineering and design work, unless voters approve it.

In effect, Measure T would stop the project in its tracks – a dangerous precedent in the water district’s view, given the potential for drier, hotter years ahead due to climate change. The water district, the county’s largest with 190,000 customers in central and southern Marin, relies on seven local reservoirs for three-quarters of its annual deliveries. Flows from the increasingly regulated Russian River supply the rest.

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Voters Agenda: Candidates evade thorny water issues

As this election season dribbles down to its final days, it might seem like water torture for many voters – drip, drip, drip.

Yet the real torture is waiting for leading candidates to offer honest and detailed positions on a crucial resource of California – the water we drink and dedicate to farming, industry and fisheries.

Gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman have offered policy platforms on water, but they both dodge some key issues. Whitman supports the $11 billion water bond that the governor removed from the November ballot. Brown has been more circumspect. Whitman has pandered to growers in the San Joaquin Valley by saying she’d favor farms over fish. Brown has criticized her for such pandering, but hasn’t detailed how he’d resolve disputes over imperiled Delta smelt and salmon and the big Delta pumps that suck water (and fish) to farms and cities to the south.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/10/24/3125498/candidates-evade-thorny-water.html#ixzz13PBXV9KP

Susan M. Trager: AB32 Empowers State Regulators

By SUSAN M. TRAGER

As we head down the stretch to the November 2 election, Proposition 23 has become the top initiative people are talking about. The debate mainly focuses on whether it would create or kill jobs.

Prop. 23 affects AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which cuts greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 25 percent by 2020. If Prop. 23 passes, AB32 would be suspended until state unemployment, currently 12.3 percent, drops to 5.5 percent or lower for a year.

Proponents cite studies, such as one by the state Legislative Analyst, showing that AB32 would put too many new burdens on business, thus killing jobs. Those backing AB32 insist that it is encouraging companies to create “green” jobs, giving California an edge in a vital new field.

A better way to look it AB32 is to see it as a type of industrial policy. According to the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, industrial policy gives “government officials additional authority, as well as the necessary fiscal and regulatory powers, to directly alter national industrial structures.”

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GOP taps water as wedge issue in Fresno County

For the 10,000 residents of this overwhelmingly Latino city, the message on gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s advertisement is designed to hit home: Mendota’s unemployment rate is 39.9 percent.

Like many places in the southern San Joaquin Valley, this sleepy town in western Fresno County has been sucked dry in recent years by drought, the reduction of water pumping from the Delta to save endangered fish, and a relentless poverty that grinds at the town’s soul. You can see the effect in the downcast eyes of the men wearing cowboy hats who saunter by the billboard on their way to play a round of pool or buy a 24-ounce Budweiser at the nearby 7-Eleven to ease their troubles, at least for one hot afternoon.

For the GOP, the misery brings political opportunity. Republican operatives think they can persuade Latinos, independents and conservative Democrats in this swing county that their interests lie in a pro-business, pro-agriculture, pro-water agenda. The Democratic Party is fighting back, arguing that voters here need political leaders who advocate for economic and social justice — including comprehensive immigration reform.

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GOP taps water as wedge issue in Fresno County

MENDOTA — “Mas trabajos,” says the billboard. More jobs.

For the 10,000 residents of this overwhelmingly Latino city, the message on gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s advertisement is designed to hit home: Mendota’s unemployment rate is 39.9 percent.

Like many places in the southern San Joaquin Valley, this sleepy town in western Fresno County has been sucked dry in recent years by drought, the reduction of water pumping from the delta to save endangered fish, and a relentless poverty that grinds at the town’s soul. You can see the effect in the downcast eyes of the men wearing cowboy hats who saunter by the billboard on their way to play a round of pool or buy a 24-ounce Bud at the nearby 7-Eleven to ease their troubles, at least for one hot afternoon.

For the GOP, the misery brings political opportunity. Republican operatives believe they can persuade Latinos, independents and conservative Democrats in this swing county that their interests lie in a pro-business, pro-agriculture, pro-water agenda. The Democratic Party is fighting back, arguing that voters here need political leaders who advocate for economic and social justice — including comprehensive immigration reform.

Read more…