California Governor Jerry Brown on January 24 delivered his State of the State Address, portraying his administration as the “Resistance” to the policies of Donald Trump while at the same time praising the President for his plan to spend $1 trillion in infrastructure funding.
Many mainstream media outlets and some California politicians immediately gushed over the speech — apparently after not having heard or read the entire address.
On the one hand, the Governor vowed to “defend everybody – every man, woman and child – who has come here…and has contributed to the well-being of our state” and committed to protecting the state’s gains on immigration, health care and climate change, guided by the principles that make California “the Great Exception” – truth, civility and perseverance.”
Brown cited the English poet John Donne, who said, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
“When California does well, America does well. And when California hurts, America hurts,” said Brown.
Brown also warned Californians that, “While no one knows what the new leaders will actually do, there are signs that are disturbing…We must prepare for very uncertain times.”
However, Brown then switched directions and praised President Trump’s plan for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending.
He quoted Trump from his inaugural address, “We will build new roads, and highways, and bridged and airport, and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.”
Brown proclaimed, “And in this, we can all work together – here in Sacramento and in Washington as well. We have roads and tunnels and railroads and even a dam that the President could help us with. And that will create good-paying American jobs.”
Departing from his prepared remarks, Brown then stated, “I say, ‘Amen to that, Brother!’” in reference to Trump’s focus on new infrastructure.
You can read Brown’s prepared speech here.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta (RTD), responded to Brown’s address in a statement, questioning whether Brown sees “an ally in President Trump.”
“After declaring that California will lead the resistance against the Trump administration, he went on to praise Trump’s proposed infrastructure spending plan. Does Governor Brown see an ally in President Trump? Is he waiting for Federal approval of permits for this destructive project?” she asked.
“It seems that Governor Brown plans to compromise the health and safety of Delta residents for a project that will leave the Delta with water that will fail to meet Clean Water Act standards,” she stated.
She then outlined the damage that the Delta Tunnels would cause to West Coat fisheries, environmental justice communities, family farms and the people of California.
“The proposed Delta Tunnels received low marks once again from the EPA in October of 2015,” she said. “It will leave hundreds of thousands of people in the Delta, who are part of the California environmental justice communities, with degraded water quality, and will decimate California’s fisheries, and historic Delta farms. The project fails to meet the economic, social, and environmental justice standards that the Brown Administration claims to champion. Plus, before construction overruns, the project will cost with interest and operation fees around $60 billion. Brown is counting on Southern California ratepayers and property taxpayers to foot the bill.”
“Governor Brown wants to use Northern California water to create even more wealth for richer urban areas and the top 1% of growers on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley, at the expense of economically distressed Delta cities like Stockton. He wants President Trump to help him. This isn’t resistance,” concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.
“Governor Brown wants to use Northern California water to create even more wealth for richer urban areas and the top 1% of growers on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley, at the expense of economically distressed Delta cities like Stockton. He wants President Trump to help him. This isn’t resistance,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.
Besides giving his loud and extemporaneous “Amen” to the Trump Administration trillion-dollar infrastructure rhetoric, Brown in his state of the state speech also congratulated Californians for passing the water bond (no reason given), according to Ron Stork, senior policy advocate for Friends of the River.
“Governor Brown even told the assembled legislators that he would like to spend some of the Trump Infrastructure largess on ‘a dam,’ probably Sites Reservoir near his retirement ranch,” Stork pointed out. “That dam needs a lot of free money to be built. Ordinarily it would be too expensive to build and operate. So its backers hope to get $2.2 billion in state taxpayer money from the water bond that Brown boosted. Another couple or more of billions as a gift from Uncle Sam might be a sufficient subsidy.”
“Sunch frank rhetoric is a bit of a departure from some of the Brown Administration and Democratic leadership rhetoric proffered during the one-sided campaign for Proposition 1 that the bond was for ‘storage,’ privately attempting to sooth us with the notion that it would end up being spent on groundwater storage, not on dams. Well, it appears the Governor and the Republican Congress have dams (or ‘a’ dam) on their minds after all,” he concluded.
Background: the dark side of Brown’s environmental “legacy” exposed
Many mainstream reporters and editors have apparently done very little research into the actual environmental policies of the Brown administration, preferring to often act as virtual stenographers and press release writers for the Governor. Although I have written about Brown’s environmental policies in many articles published in an array of media outlets, it’s a good idea to review them once again.
The Governor’s “legacy project,” the Delta Tunnels/California WaterFix, poses a huge threat to the ecosystems of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, Klamath and Trinity river systems, in contrast to Brown’s claims that the project “could help native fish rebound from the edge of extinction.” The project is based on the untenable premise that taking more water out of a river before it reaches the estuary will somehow “restore” the San Francisco Bay Delta and its precious fish and wildlife species.
Unfortunately, the California WaterFix is not the only environmentally devastating policy promoted by Governor Jerry Brown. Brown is promoting the expansion of fracking and extreme oil extraction methods in California and is overseeing water policies that are driving winter run-Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species closer and closer to extinction.
As if those examples of Brown’s tainted environmental legacy weren’t bad enough, Brown has promoted carbon trading and REDD policies that pose an enormous threat to Indigenous Peoples around the globe; has done nothing to stop clear cutting of forests by Sierra-Pacific and other timber companies; presided over record water exports from the Delta in 2011; and oversaw massive fish kills of Sacramento splittail and other species in 2011.
Jerry Brown also oversaw the “completion” of so-called “marine protected areas” under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, overseen by a Big Oil lobbyist and other corporate interests, in December 2012. These faux “Yosemites of the Sea” fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling, fracking, pollution, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.
Governor Brown’s anti-environmental policies, particularly his fervent support of fracking in spite of his cynical eco-babble about “green energy” and “defending science,” are the result of the millions of dollars that Brown has received from Big Oil, Big Ag and other corporate interests in recent years.
Consumer Watchdog’s report, “Brown’s Dirty Hands,” documents donations totaling $9.8 million dollars to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor from 26 energy companies with business before the state. The companies included the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, as well as Occidental, Chevron, and NRG.
The report alleges that energy companies donated $4.4 million to the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party gave $4.7 million to Brown’s re-election between 2011 and 2014. Consumer Watchdog submitted its report to the FPPC as a sworn complaint.
Brown spouts “green” rhetoric when he flies off to climate conferences and issues proclamations about John Muir Day and Earth Day, but his actions and policies regarding fish, water and the environment should be challenged by all of those who care about the future of California and the West Coast.
To read Brown’s Dirty Hands, go here.