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March for Science

We question the science of bringing back salmon to a river that climate change science says will be too warm for their survival.

Apr 24, 2017

As people around the country and the world held a March for ScienceSaturday, we thought about the science that impacts our lives.  The science behind the Endangered Species Act that limits pumping water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the science of bringing salmon back to the San Joaquin River are science theories that we continue to question.  

The headline in the Mercury News says "California Democrats prepare to battle GOP over Endangered Species Act."  We hope there's at least a skirmish.  The ESA has been way too one-sided for way too long.  It's time for a tune-up.  But, we wonder.

The story goes on to say that California democrats "have been working to strengthen state protections for endangered species should a federal rollback occur."  There are a number of changes outlined in the story.

We only have two recommendations that we'd like to see ed into the conversation and the legislation:  1.  standards and accountability for water use, and 2.  the impact environmental water decisions have on humans.  For too long there has been no accountability for decisions to protect endangered species.  We believe, and we don't think it's unreasonable to demand, that those making decisions to protect these species should actually be able to prove the water they take from humans does really help the species.  If water bureaucrats are going to take a lot of water from humans to help fish, they should be able to show that it helps the fish.  Recently, a scientific study showed that "A new study says salmon can get too much water."  We don't think this has ever occurred to a California water bureaucrat.  

One of our board members, Kole Upton, put it this way:  the ESA should incorporate "a proposed law requiring environmental water releases be held to the same standards for efficiency and accountability as required of urban and agricultural uses. Water is a public resource and should not be wasted by any user. So, if an environmental water release is not accomplishing the task for which it is being released, then it should be made available to the other water users so it may be beneficially used for society."

Next, the impact on humans should be taken into consideration.  If decisions are made that have tremendous negative impact on humans, those impacts should be considered.  The current law does not allow for impacts on humans to be a part of the process.  The most recent proposal for more environmental water use on the Stanislaus River will give "a yield of only 1,000 more salmon at an annual cost of $260 million."  That's a tremendous financial cost on people, and a lot of water that cities and farms won't get.  Does it really make sense?  If they don't have to take humans into consideration, it's not even discussed.

When it comes to the San Joaquin River Restoration, we question the science of bringing back salmon to a river that climate change science says will be too warm for their survival.  Where are the scientists who will question this fool's errand?  They are nowhere to be found.  Environmentalists want it both ways, but their own scientific theories say the river will be too warm for salmon.  If it's really about science, can we please hear from the scientists on these issues?

California Democrats prepare to battle GOP over Endangered Species Act

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