Nov. 1, 2012 Westlands is not a charity - it expects a return on investment
Written By: Dan Bacher, November 2, 2012
Advocates for the restoration of California’s struggling salmon and other fish populations note that Westland’s political action committee is not a charity. It invests in those who support its agenda – and expects a return on investment. They are trying to weaken the Delta’s voice in Congress on fair water policy.
Westlands Water District growers have benefitted for years from federally subsidized Delta water exports. Now, they are using the profits they have obtained from subsidized water, at tremendous expense to the taxpayers and the environment, to muscle political influence to secure future water supplies.
The peripheral tunnels would deal the final death blow to the Delta’s $5 billion annual agriculture economy, the region’s $650,000,000 recreation economy, and to Delta fisheries, according to Delta and salmon advocates. If built, the peripheral tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, green sturgeon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail and numerous other fish species.
Record amounts of water were exported out of the Delta pumps in 2011 to irrigate land farmed by Westlands and other west side agribusiness interests, including Stewart Resnick's Paramount Farms in Kern County. The massive diversions resulted in the “salvage” of over 11 million fish, including a record 9 million native Sacramento splittail.
Delta and salmon advocates believe that regardless of political affiliation, Delta area voters should be outraged that Westlands Water District leaders are trying to buy influence in the Delta to stop the work of two Congressional Representatives, John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney, who have been strong advocates against Westlands’ scheme to build two fish-killing peripheral tunnels.
Many Delta residents are now asking: How can they expect a candidate to represent their interests when they are taking money from the California Cotton Growers Association, California Westside Farmers Federal PAC, and Westlands corporate agribusiness leaders - all of whom who have benefited year after year from millions of dollars of federally subsidized water exported from the Delta pumps?
The two Congressional campaigns are is not the only one that Westlands growers are involved with in the November election.
Ted Sheely, a Westlands Water District grower and past member of the Westlands Board of Directors who grows genetically engineered cotton in the San Joaquin Valley on his 8,700-acre farm in Kings County, is prominently featured in TV ads against against Proposition 37 ((http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_SXVfJeHyE). Proposition 37, the "Right to Know" proposition, is a November 2012 ballot measure that requires the labeling of genetically engineered food in California.
Then the Fresno Bee revealed on October 23 that five top officials in the Westlands Water District, all Republicans, on October 20 collectively donated more than $50,000 to support Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown's tax measure on the Nov. 6 ballot. Delta advocates believe that the contribution is designed as "insurance" that Brown follows through with his controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels to export massive amounts of water to Westlands and other corporate agribusiness interests.
There is no doubt that Westlands is doing everything it can to buy the November elections in California.