Schwarzenegger Tries to Link Wilderness Bill to Building Peripheral Canal

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in yet one more sickening attempt to portray himself as the “Green Governor” while continuing his unprecedented war on fish and the environment, praised President Obama’s signing of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act while incongruously linking it to an environmentally destructive peripheral canal proposal.

It shows how the Governor can give even a good bill, one that provides funds for San Joaquin River salmon and steelhead restoration and grants wild and scenic status to more California rivers, a toxic green taint!

“Preserving and restoring California’s wilderness and waterways has been a top priority of my Administration and I am pleased that our environmental goals will be furthered by many aspects of this bill, specifically the San Joaquin River Restoration Act,” claimed Schwarzenegger in a statement on March 30. “This bill preserves 700,000-plus acres of California’s pristine wilderness and also provides additional funding to supplement the millions of dollars California has already invested to restore the San Joaquin River — helping rejuvenate a critical fishery, restore a devastated habitat and improve a water-delivery network that is the lifeblood of a Central Valley farming economy all Californians depend on.”

The operative phrase is “improve a water delivery network.” When Schwarzenegger talks about “improving” water delivery, he means building a peripheral canal and more dams, a goal that he shares with Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Nature Conservancy in their Unholy Alliance to destroy the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

His claim that “preserving and restoring California’s wilderness and waterways has been a top priority of my Administration” is simply not backed up by his actual record in office, since Schwarzenegger’s administration’s has presided over the collapse of Central Valley Chinook salmon, delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish populations, along with imperiling the southern resident population of killer whales (orcas).

Schwarzenegger’s version of “environmentalism” is nothing other than corporate greenwashing on a massive scale, in collusion with “Gang Green” groups such as the Nature Conservancy. While the Governor constantly preaches about promoting “green energy” and “solving global warming,” he and his minions have done nothing to stop the collapse of Central Valley salmon and California Delta pelagic fish populations.

Instead, Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman and Schwarzenegger are working to exacerbate the imperiled status of these fish by pushing for the construction of a peripheral canal and more dams. They want to divert more water out of the declining estuary when dramatic cuts in water exports to corporate agribusiness and the retirement of drainage-impaired land in the Westlands Water District are urgently needed to restore Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon, delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, striped bass, threadfin shad, American shad and other fish that depend on the estuary for their survival.

At the same time, Schwarzenegger is doing everything he can to pull the biggest defenders of fish and the environment – sustainable commercial and recreational fishermen and seaweed harvesters – off the water by creating massive marine protected areas on the North Coast of California, a region already devastated by de-facto marine protected areas and fishing closures, in a privately funded process rife with conflict of interest, mission creep and a lack of transparency.

Grass roots environmentalists from the North Coast, in contrast to corporate funded “environmentalists” that often gush about how “green” the Governor is in their press releases, are fighting Schwarzenegger’s fast track MPLA (Marine Life Protection Act) because it would devastate coastal communities and pave the way for corporate aquaculture, PGE’s wave energy projects and offshore oil drilling in remote areas such as Point Arena.

Schwarzenegger’s “green” record on restoring California’s waterways and fisheries includes:

* Vetoing legislation to limit the destructive impact of suction dredge mining on salmon and steelhead in northern California rivers;

* Sending lay off notices to 98 game wardens and cadets from the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) at a time when fish and wildlife populations are under attack by poachers — and California has the lowest ratio of wardens to state residents of any state in the country;

* Pressuring the Central Valley Regional Water Resources Control Board to grant waivers to agricultural polluters at the expense of fish in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and farmworkers in rural communities with poisoned wells;

* Allowing tens of thousands of striped bass, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento splittail and other fish to perish during the Prospect Island fish kill in November 2007 after the DFG signed off on a levee repair by the Bureau of Reclamation.

However, the most egregious attack that the Schwarzenegger administration has launched on California’s fisheries was when he allowed the Department of Water Resources, in collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation under the Bush administration, to export record amounts of water to Westlands, the Kern County Water Bank and southern California at great expense to Delta fish and Central Valley salmon. Record water export levels occurred in 2004 (6.1 MAF), 2005 (6.5 MAF) and 2006 (6.3 MAF). Exports averaged 4.6 MAF annually between 1990 and 1999 and increased to an average of 6 MAF between 2000 and 2007, a rise of almost 30 percent, according the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

While Schwarzenegger played the role of the Terminator and other villains in his movies, he is now playing the real life villain role as the “Fish Terminator.” When he leaves office, he will leave behind a unprecedented toxic green path of salmon and other fish populations on the abyss of extinction, rivers devastated by siltation and suction dredge gold mining, poisoned wells in the San Joaquin Valley, and no fishing zones on the coast.

When are the leaders of national environmental groups going to have some courage and expose the Governor for the environmental fraud that he is? When is the mainstream media going to wake up to the fact that there is nothing green about Schwarzenegger other than the corporate money that he and his staff worship?

* For more information about what you can do to save Central valley salmon, southern resident killer whales and the Delta, go to, and

Dan Bacher is an outdoor writer, alternative journalist and satirical songwriter from Sacramento, California. He is editor of the Central America Connection and contributes to numerous publications and websites, including Dissident Voice, CounterPunch, Because People Matter and the Sacramento News & Review. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Dan, or visit Dan's website.

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  1. BIll said on April 14th, 2009 at 3:14pm #

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