Schwarznegger Pimps the Water Bond

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, worshipped as the “Green Governor” by the corporate media, will engage in a curious display of surrealistic political theatre today when he pushes for an environmentally destructive water bond in a press conference at the State Capitol and then jets off to chair a “Building Green” forum in Los Angeles.

Governor Schwarzenegger will begin his public appearances today by delivering remarks at a press conference hosted by the California Latino Water Coalition at 12:30 p.m. at the West Steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento. Last month, the Governor and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein proposed a “bipartisan” plan to the legislature to “update California’s water system by increasing storage, improving conveyance, protecting the Delta’s ecosystem and promoting greater water conservation,” according to a statement from the Governor’s office.

Under pressure from San Joaquin Valley corporate agribusiness, Schwarzenegger will today be pushing his $9.3 billlion water bond, with no sense of irony, after having issued an executive order in July slashing the salaries of 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour and laying off thousands of temporary and part time workers.

So if the Governor claims the state doesn’t have the money to pay its workers their full salaries because of a budget deficit of $15.2 billion, where the heck are Schwarzenegger and Feinstein going to come up with the money for a $9.3 billion water bond that will indebt California taxpayers for decades into the future?

A coalition of recreational fishing groups, commercial fishing organizations, environmental groups and Indian Tribes is opposing the Schwarzenegger/Feinstein water bond because it proposes to build a peripheral canal and two reservoirs, Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River and Sites on the west side of the Sacramento Valley. The water bond would only exacerbate the Central Valley salmon collapse and the dramatic decline of four Delta pelagic species – delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, and juvenile striped bass – by building the infrastructure to increase exports to subsidized agribusiness from the California Delta. Increasing exports of Delta water in recent years are a major cause of both the Central Valley salmon collapse and the Delta fish decline.

The Governor’s remarks will be webcast live at

After pimping to bailout corporate water contractors at the noon press conference, the Governor will transform himself from “Arnold, the Fish Terminator,” into the “Green Governor.” He will arrive in Los Angeles at 4 p.m. to deliver remarks and chair the “Building Green Economic Forum” at the XXVI Annual Border Governors Conference at Sheraton Hotel Ballroom-East/West, 333 Universal Hollywood Drive.

“The XXVI Annual BGC, chaired by Governor Schwarzenegger, will highlight the benefits of building green economies throughout the border region and, for the first time in BGC history, the conference will hold four policy forums with world renowned experts, Nobel laureates, business leaders, government officials and others to discuss important shared opportunities and challenges along the border,” according to the Governor’s office.

How can building new dams and a peripheral canal, a move that will destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast, be construed as “building green?” How can Schwarzenegger chair and deliver remarks at a conference about “green building” when he is intent on building one of the most environmentally destructive projects in California history?

Then, at 4:30 p.m. the Governors will hold their Roundtable Discussion at Stage 28, Universal Studios Hollywood, 100 Universal City Plaza, in Universal City, CA. Schwarzenegger will join governors and federal secretaries from the U.S. and Mexico Border States and participate in a roundtable discussion “highlighting progress made over the last year on a number of ongoing national priorities.”

“In February, the Governor invited U.S. and Mexico Border States to Washington D.C. where they met with President Bush and federal secretaries, including U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Secretary for Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, to discuss national priorities for the border region. In May, the border governors held similar meetings in Mexico City with President Calderón and his cabinet secretaries,” according to the Schwarzenegger’s office.

Will Schwarzenegger discuss the “great progress” he and his staff have made by pursuing water policies that have resulted in the closure of salmon season off California and Oregon and in the collapse of delta smelt, longfin smelt, striped bass, threadfin shad, green sturgeon, white sturgeon, splittail and other species?

I’m not impressed by this horrendous case of greenwashing that the Governor, his staff and his supporters are engaging in. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign coordinator of Restore the Delta, a coalition fighting the peripheral canal and water bond, summed it up best in a comment she made to me last year after Schwarzenegger unveiled his plan to destroy the delta by building more dams and a canal.

“Schwarzenegger is as green as a silk plant,” said Barrigan- Parrilla. “When you get up close, you realize that it is all a big fake.”

Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein engaged in a parallel display of political theatre yesterday in an an effort to pressure California legislators to “set aside their ideological differences” and put the Schwarzenegger water bond boondoggle on the November ballot. Yesterday she told Sacramento area business leaders that Democrats need to join her, Schwarzenegger and California Republicans in sponsoring the $9.3 billion bond.

“The time is now,” she said, as quoted by Samantha Young, Associated Press writer, on August 13. “If you wait, it will be too late to do what we need to do to get up and running to meet this hotter, drier future that is coming.”

DAN BACHER can be reached at:



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Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher