Friday, September 11, 2009

Sean Hannity in the San Joaquin Valley

On Thursday, September 17, 2009, Sean Hannity will visit the San Joaquin Valley for a live broadcast. He will devote his entire program to the water crisis facing our state.

It is important to give Sean a warm welcome and to thank him for his vigilant efforts to increase national awareness of the man-made drought.

Details about the broadcast are below:

What: LIVE broadcast of the Sean Hannity Show
When: Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Time: Please arrive by 5:00 pm
Where: A fallowed field on the Westside in Fresno County
Directions: Located on the south side of Highway 198, to the west of the Fresno/Kings County line. The field is exactly 8 miles west of Lemoore Naval Air Station. The field is marked with a speed limit sign and a white wrought iron gate. The area will also be clearly marked with signs and banners.

In addition to the Hannity broadcast next week, I would like to call your attention to several editorial responses recently published by The Wall Street Journal. These responses (see below) relate to the Journal’s coverage of the water crisis as well as my recent editorial. They were written by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Environmental Defense Fund Regional Director Laura Harnish and highlight the challenges we face by exposing the people who are working to prevent a meaningful resolution.

It is noteworthy that Secretary Salazar again denies a man-made drought exists and Ms. Harnish believes that the root of the problem is that farmers don’t pay enough for water.

From The Wall Street Journal
Central Valley Water: Nor Any Drop for Plants to Drink

Your editorial "California's Man-Made Drought" (Sept. 2) about the severe drought and water crisis in California argues that California's water problems could be wished away if our nation were only willing to sacrifice an endangered three-inch fish, turn on a few pumps to move water from Northern California to the Central Valley, and wave a magic wand. The trouble is: The fish are a sliver of the problem, the pumps are already on, and pointed fingers can't make it rain.

California's water crisis is far more troubling than your editorial suggests. The state is in its third year of a devastating drought, caused by a lack of precipitation. In California's Central Valley, where half the nation's produce is grown, many farms and fields are bone dry, unemployment has surged, and the state's inadequate water infrastructure—built 50 years ago for a population half as large—cannot handle the stress. Moreover, California's Bay Delta, upon which 25 million Californians depend for drinking water, is in a state of full environmental collapse.

As a proposed response, your editorial asks the Obama administration to ignore science and convene a so-called "God Squad" that would override protections on watersheds and turn California's water crisis over to the courts. Trying to force more water out of a dying system will only cause more human tragedy, while diverting attention from the governor and the legislature, who face a Sept. 11 legislative deadline to decide whether to fix the broken water system in California after decades of neglect.

Rather than more finger pointing, we need real solutions. After eight years on the sidelines, the federal government has stepped in to help. The Obama administration is investing over $400 million through the president's economic recovery plan to help modernize California's water infrastructure, including over $40 million in emergency assistance to help water-short Central Valley farmers. We have helped move record amounts of water to communities in most need and are taking steps to prepare for a potential fourth year of drought. And perhaps most importantly, the federal government is now engaging as a full partner in the collaborative process that the governor launched two years ago to restore the Bay Delta, and modernize the state's woefully outdated water infrastructure. Though what we need most is rain and snow to fill the reservoirs, these actions will help mitigate the devastating impact of the ongoing drought and deliver help to the families and communities suffering most.

This is the type of locally-driven, solution-oriented, collaborative approach that we must all support—and to which we must all contribute.

Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior

It's not about fish, it's about market fairness. In California's water rights system, farmers on one side of the Central Valley pay less than $10 for an acre-foot of water (enough water to cover an acre one-foot deep), while those on the other side are forced to pay up to 60 times more—$600 an acre-foot—to keep trees alive.

What is needed is a new and fair set of market-based rules, created by water stakeholders and California's government, that can spawn new industries and new jobs, while intelligently allocating the state's water to serve agriculture, cities and suburbs, recreational users and nature.

Laura Harnish
Regional Director
Environmental Defense Fund