This just in … 30,000 Californians Speak Out Against the Delta Tunnels

From Restore the Delta:

Restore the Delta logoAt a press conference held on the steps of the State Capitol today, a coalition of citizens groups and elected leaders gave their “closing argument” against the proposed, Delta Tunnels. Controversy over the project has only grown since the Draft EIR was rebuffed by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in the fall of 2014.

On July 10, 2015 a Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIR/SDEIS) was released and a new round of public comments began. Today – on the last day of the comment period – the coalition announced 30,000 comments were submitted by California individuals and organizations AGAINST the re-proposed Delta Tunnels plan.

At a rally on the steps of the State Capitol, speakers explained how the new Recirculated EIR will violate the Delta Reform Act of 2009, the federal Clean Water Act, the federal Endangered Species Act, the California Constitution, and numerous administrative codes under CEQA and NEPA. The environmental report is once again incomplete and inadequate after nine years and one-quarter of a billion dollars has been spent.

Speakers asked Governor Brown to listen to Californians and end his push for the Delta Tunnels, once and for all. Speakers explained how the Delta Tunnels will continue the trend towards centralization of the state’s water supply, at a time when regional resilience should be the goal. They suggested redirecting state investment towards building and expanding local water sustainability projects like groundwater recharging, water recycling, and expanding urban conservation programs that have been so successful this year.

Quotes from Today’s Speakers

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta:
“Today we are proud to announce that 30,000 Californians, from every background, have submitted public comments against the Delta Tunnels! Governor Brown, the people of California are not convinced. We have done our homework and read the 48,000 pages you asked us to when you told us to “Shut Up.” We have decided we do not want to spend $60 billion to export more water from the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary to the top one-percent of big industrial growers and special interest water districts. We do not want a project that does not meet Clean Water Act or Endangered Species Act standards. We do not want a project that will decimate our regional economy. What we do want is sustainable solutions to California’s water challenges based on recycling, conservation, stormwater capture, groundwater recharge, and local water projects that create jobs.”

State Senator Cathleen Galgiani
“Notwithstanding the recent changes to the tunnel plan, I must remain opposed to it for both economic and environmental reasons. The research has convincingly demonstrated how the tunnel plan is not economically justified and is financially infeasible without a substantial taxpayer subsidy. Many of the reported benefits of the “WaterFix” project include unrealistic and inaccurate comparisons of conditions without the tunnels.  It is imperative that we look at many options with regards to long-term water policy. Any long-term plan including Delta tunnels will need to provide much more compelling economic, environmental and increased water supply arguments in order to be beneficial to the Delta and the State.”

Robert Wright, Senior Counsel, Friends of the River
“This is an emergency. The San Francisco Bay-Delta is in peril. Extinction is forever. This Tunnels project must either be dropped, or the ‘Water Fix’ agencies must issue new, honest documents under the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Policy Act that will disclose the cons of the Water Tunnels as well as tout the claimed pros and thus serve as a basis for meaningful review and consideration by the public. The lying has to stop.”

Tim Sloane, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations:
“It’s not rocket science: our salmon and our Delta Estuary need fresh water to survive. The Tunnels would hijack that water and deprive all but a fraction of Californians of its benefits. It’s just a big straw with public trust resources on the Delta end, and industrial agribusiness sucking on the other.”

Conner Everts, Executive Director of the Environmental Water Caucus:
“We have shown through mandatory conservation we can achieve permanent reductions. Since 1978, despite millions of new residents, Californians have reduced urban water consumption by almost 25 percent. When people learn water conservation strategies, those reductions become permanent. We have existing solutions – local projects with local jobs that will increase efficiency while reducing demand and leave more water for the environment. In preparation for El Niño, we should deploy water capture programs that provide thousands of local jobs and build local water supplies.”

Espe Vielma, Environmental Justice Advisory Group for the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District:
“It’s sad that there were few public comments from the Environmental Justice community. Forty percent of Californians speak languages other than English at home. Our communities cannot comment on what they cannot read. Did the Delta Tunnels agencies refuse to translate the plan because too many Spanish speakers would join the fight to stop the tunnels?”

Read more from Restore the Delta by clicking here.

Other reactions to the close of the comment period:

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