by Dan Bacher
The mainstream media, state officials and corporate “environmental” groups have for years tried to portray California as the “green” leader of the nation. In reality, California suffers from some of the greatest environmental degradation of any state in the nation, since corporate agribusiness, the oil industry and other big money interests control the majority of the state’s politicians and exert inordinate influence over the state’s environmental policies.
California is currently in a state of emergency, with NASA scientists saying that California has only about one year of water left in reserves, according to Food and Water Watch. This is largely due to the gross mismanagement of California’s reservoirs, rivers and groundwater supplies, during a record drought, to serve the 1 percent.
California is currently in a state of emergency, with NASA scientists saying that California has only about one year of water left in reserves, according to Food and Water Watch
California Governor Jerry “Big Oil” Brown’s recent water restrictions on cities and counties are woefully inadequate. Big agribusiness, oil interests and the Nestlé corporation and other bottled water companies continue to deplete and pollute California’s precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water. It’s clear that the severity of this drought calls for much more than just individual action like cutting back on your showers or flushing your toilet less.
Sooner or later we have to stop subsidizing corporate agribusiness interests, who grow almonds and other export crops on toxic land, soil that should have never been irrigated, with cheap water and other subsidies.
The idea of big corporate growers “suffering” during the drought is a classic example of the “Big Lie” that has been spread by agribusiness, the Brown administration and Big Ag “Astroturf” groups.
At a press conference in Sacramento on April 8 after meeting with water agency and agribusiness leaders, Governor Brown said, “The key challenge here, aside from getting the water, is to collaborate together and not try to blame other people and point fingers.”
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD), responded, “We have already sent a tweet asking him get the water for whom? Westlands? Paramount Farms?”
The Governor has not responded to her question, nor did the Governor’s Office respond to my request for the names of organizations and individuals that participated in the closed door meeting to discuss the drought. The event was closed to the press until the last few minutes when Brown held a press conference.
At 1.1 trillion gallons per year, almond farms alone consume 10% of the state’s water, or as much as entire city of Los Angeles.
On the following day, at an Association of California Water Agencies (ACWAR) event at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird claimed that “everybody is a soldier in the fight” to address the drought.
Yes, everybody except those planting almonds in the drought!
According to the “On the Public Record” blog, almond acreage in California has expanded by 70,000 acres, a total of 280,000 acre feet per year of new water demand:
“I have marked the almond acreage at the beginning and end of the 2006-2009 drought (700,000 acres at the beginning, 810,000 acres at the end). At the beginning of our current drought, almond acreage was 870,000 acres. In 2013, after two years of drought, it was up to 940,000 acres. It looks like the 2014 California Almond Acreage Report comes out at the end of April (here’s 2013). I will be excited to see a new total acreage. (Source)
Let’s make this all explicit. Since this drought began, almonds have expanded by 70,000 acres. That’s 280,000 acft/year of new water demand for a snack that will be exported. That water will come from groundwater or from other farmers. At the same time, the California EPA is literally telling urban users to take five minute cold showers. If there is a lot of new acreage in 2014 and 2015, it is going to be difficult for the Brown administration to stay friends with them.”
California has imposed emergency water restrictions on residents, but Governor Brown has let Nestlé, fracking companies, and mega-farms off the hook even though they account for 82% of the state’s annual water consumption (residential accounts for 12%), according to US Uncut. At 1.1 trillion gallons per year, almond farms alone consume 10% of the state’s water, or as much as entire city of Los Angeles.
Governor Brown has let Nestlé, fracking companies, and mega-farms off the hook even though they account for 82% of the state’s annual water consumption
The diversion of water to subsidized corporate agribusiness, oil companies and bottled water companies during the California drought has resulted in the near-extinction of Delta smelt and the dramatic decline of winter run Chinook salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon and other fish species.
You can take action NOW to stop corporate agribusiness, big oil companies and Nestlé and other bottled water companies from depleting California’s precious water supplies during a record drought by going to the Food and Water Watch website.
On March 20, environmental and human rights activists, holding plastic “torches” and “pitchforks,” formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m., effectively shutting down the company’s operations for the day. To read the complete story, go here.