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Shadowy Organization?

The sad truth is many of the so-called environmental organizations are nothing more than 'shakedown artists' who use environmental laws to gain court awarded fees

Aug 21, 2014

A group representing farm interests has wised up and given itself a name similar to names used by environmental groups. They call themselves "The Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability." Has a nice ring to it.

They are asking a very reasonable question: Why does our Central Valley water have to flow through the Delta, but San Francisco's doesn't? As you probably know, San Francisco gets its' water from Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite and it flows via pipeline straight to San Francisco instead of through the Delta like it would if it were left to nature. The liberals in S.F. exempt themselves from the rules they make for us.

By the way, they aren't the only ones diverting their water before it gets to the Delta. The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) takes its water on the east side of the Delta, routes it around the Delta to the south and into their homes and businesses on the west side. This water could also easily flow through the Delta before they take it out.

Back to the Center for Environmental Science: Their Center's executive Director, Craig Manson, said "we cannot afford to have a double standard which requires only some to contribute to conservation and others to avoid being held accountable for the effects of their actions." This is so obviously true it almost goes without saying. But, we have to say it because the environmentalists won't.


But, environmentalists, true to their style, didn't argue against the substance of the lawsuit, instead attacking the messenger. Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said "it's a very shadowy organization run by some prominent anti-environmental interests. It tries to portray itself as an environmental group. Over the years they have filed quite a few legal actions trying to cause environmental crisis so they can argue environmental laws are extreme."

The sad truth is many of the so-called environmental organizations are nothing more than 'shakedown artists' who use environmental laws to gain court awarded fees so they can continue ideological attacks on farms. business, and ordinary citizens. Their goal is to take as much water away from folks beneficially using it to return this country to some kind of fantasy, pristine environmental past. They are now alarmed because someone else is playing in their sandbox with a different goal.


Dear Kieran: please answer why San Francisco gets its water from Hetch Hetchy without going through the Delta if water going through the Delta is so important. We didn't ask for a critique of the organization, just an answer to the question.
 

Fresno group in U.S. court over water usage in S.F.

San Francisco Chronicle

Melody Gutierrez

Sacramento --


A Fresno nonprofit linked to the largest agricultural water district in the country filed a federal lawsuit alleging San Francisco and other Bay Area communities are unfairly exempted from water cutbacks meant to protect endangered species.


The Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability alleges that freshwater diversions from the Tuolumne River are jeopardizing endangered species of salmon, smelt and sturgeon by increasing the salinity of the San Joaquin River and Sacramento Delta, where the river water would naturally flow without upstream dams creating the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Hetch Hetchy is the primary source of drinking water for 2.6 million people in the Bay Area.


The center's executive director, Craig Manson, is the general counsel for Westlands Water District and the lone named plaintiff in the case is Jean Sagouspe, a Central Valley farmer who is also on the board of the Fresno group and is the former board president of Westlands. Westlands serves 700 family-owned farms in Kings and Fresno counties that produce about $1 billion a year in food and fiber crops.


The nonprofit would not answer whether other interests were involved in its organization, which is dedicated to "equal enforcement of environmental laws."


"If we are to be successful in conserving species in California, everyone must contribute," Manson said in a statement.


'A double standard'


"For decades, San Francisco has taken water from the Tuolumne River, the San Joaquin River and the Delta without consideration for the effect on protected species. We cannot afford to have a double standard which requires only some to contribute to conservation and others to avoid being held accountable for the effects of their actions."


The lawsuit says the National Park Service has failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service - as the center contends is required under the Endangered Species Act - to ensure diversions to Hetch Hetchy don't negatively impact endangered species. Officials with the National Park Service said they could not comment on pending litigation.


Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said it's not the first time the nonprofit has filed a lawsuit claiming to be representing environmental interests.


"It's a very shadowy organization run by some prominent antienvironmental interests," Suckling said. "It tries to portray itself as an environmental group. Over the years they have filed quite a few legal actions trying to cause environmental crisis so they can argue environmental laws are extreme."


The lawsuit filed Monday in Washington, D.C., calls the Hetch Hetchy Project "one of the most environmentally controversial projects in United States history." The Hetch Hetchy dams the Tuolumne River inside Yosemite National Park and sends water to San Francisco.


Seeks study of impact


The lawsuit asks the court to determine whether an environmental impact study must be conducted before annual in-stream flows are determined for the Hetch Hetchy.


Attorney Roger Marzulla, who is representing the nonprofit, said it's no surprise during a drought that water diversions are being closely looked at. He said farmers generally feel the "entire burden of the Endangered Species Act" is placed on them.


"It's the same old problem, not enough water," Marzulla said. "If you take that water out of the system and divert it to the Bay Area, you've removed it from the natural system it's in and the Endangered Species Act requires the Park Service consider the effect that has."


Melody Gutierrez is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: mgutierrez@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @MelodyGutierrez

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