American Elephants


The Environmentalists Are Not On Your Side! by The Elephant's Child

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You have undoubtedly noticed rising prices at the grocery store. Bacon aficionados have certainly noticed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday predicted that fruit and vegetable prices will rise by 5% to 6% this year due to lower production in California’s great Central Valley. California has just endured one of the driest  years on record— but much of the blame lies directly on extreme environmental policies.

More than half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, most of the lettuce, berries and tomatoes come from the Central Valley. This year federal water regulators cut farmers’ allocations of water to zero because of a long bout of dry weather. Farmers had to pump groundwater, and many saved their groundwater supply for fruit and nut trees that take years to come to full production.

About 500,000 acres of land lay fallow this year. This didn’t have to happen. The state could have stored up more water from the wet years, but they flushed 800,000 acre feet into San Francisco Bay last winter and another 445,000 acre feet this spring to “safeguard” the “endangered” delta smelt, a tiny 3 inch bait fish endangered by pumping at the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta which under the Endangered Species Act must be protected at any cost. Last winter, when 300 smelt were snared in the pumps, regulators ordered that a deluge of melted snowpack from the Sierras be discharged to the ocean rather than delivered to farmers. That amount of water would have irrigated 600,000 acres of land and been enough for 3 million households.

The Endangered Species Act has an outstanding record of stopping projects, being used as evidence in endless lawsuits, costing billions, but accomplishing nothing whatsoever as far as actually “saving” endangered species. The slaughter of birds of prey, and songbirds chopped up in wind turbines or cooked in solar arrays, on the other hand, does not trump the small amounts of expensive “renewable” energy that environmentalists keep hoping will

The California Farm Bureau estimates conservatively that the average American family will spend about $500 more on food this year as a result of crackpot environmentalism. That’s added to the increased price of gas, higher electricity bills, and higher premiums on your health insurance.

ADDENDUM: There’s more. Henry I. Miller writes in the Wall Street Journal that Santa Cruz, Mendocino and Marin counties in California, have banned a proven, modern technology that could conserve vast amounts of water. The technology is genetic engineering at the molecular level, or gene splicing. Plant biologists have identified genes that regulate water use and transferred them into important plant crops. The new varieties grow with smaller amounts of water or lower-quality water, such as that higher in mineral salts. Irrigation accounts for roughly 70 percent of the world’s fresh water consumption.

In Egypt, Miller says, researchers have shown a decade ago that transferring a single gene from barley to wheat, the plants can tolerate less watering for a longer period of time. The new drought-resistant variety in some deserts can be grown with rainfall alone, and in a conventional field requires only one-eighth as much irrigation. For a country like Egypt that regularly has trouble feeding their own people, this is am enormous benefit.



Obama Will Veto Any Attempt to Fix This Mess. by The Elephant's Child

California’s great Central Valley has been called the breadbasket of America. Certainly it has been a great agricultural region, and the Congress of the United States has turned it into a dust bowl. Unemployment is huge, but statistics do not include those who have stopped looking.

Those sticks in the photo are a young orchard deprived of water by the use of the Endangered Species Act to protect the Delta Smelt — a very small inedible fish.

The Endangered Species Act is one of those laws cooked up in Washington D.C. that was well intentioned, but questionable in its effects. It quickly became a weapon in the hands of radical environmentalists. A claim that an “endangered” species was present was enough to shut down huge proposed projects — at least through years-long court battles — often permanently.

It is easy to claim that a species is endangered, and hard to confirm. In the history of the earth, it has not been unusual for a species to go extinct. The famous ones are the passenger pigeon — over-harvested to extinction for food, and the Dodo.

The modern list of endangered species is not a great record of success, but full of species that turned out to be not endangered after all, species that recovered promptly when a predator was removed. Is extinction a natural act —survival of the fittest — or something that must be prohibited at all cost? We don’t know.

Remember that the polar bear was just listed as “threatened” in spite of the fact that there are more bears at present than ever before. There’s a lot of politics attached to the list, for modern environmentalism is largely political.

Environmentalists don’t like the modern world, they don’t like rivers to be dammed, they don’t like suburbs, they don’t like development, and the more radical want a return to the Pleistocene. They prefer that people live in very dense cities, have few children and except for corridors between dense cities, return the rest of the land to wilderness.Those are the complications.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Water Reliability Act is now before Congress. Obama has announced that if it reaches his desk, he will veto it. Why am I not surprised.

Nunes’ Sacramento-San Joaquin Water Reliability Act goes to a vote in the House Wednesday and if it passes, it will guarantee that water the farmers paid for finally gets to the parched Central Valley. It will put an end to the sorry stream of shriveled vineyards, blackened almond groves and unemployed farm workers standing in alms lines for bagged carrots from China.

The White House announced that Obama would veto Nunes’ bill because it would “unravel decades of work” on California water regulations.

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1837, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act because the bill would unravel decades of work to forge consensus, solutions, and settlements that equitably address some of California’s most complex water challenges. …

The Administration strongly supports efforts to provide a more reliable water supply for California and to protect, restore, and enhance the overall quality of the Bay-Delta environment.  The Administration has taken great strides toward achieving these co-equal goals through a coordinated Federal Action Plan, which has strengthened collaboration between Federal agencies and the State of California while achieving solid results.  Unfortunately, H.R. 1837 would undermine these efforts and the progress that has been made.

Lots of weasel words.



California’s Big Problems Include a Tiny Minnow. by The Elephant's Child

The Green Lobby convinced federal judge Oliver Wanger in 2007, that the Endangered Species Act gave the federal government the right to cut water to thousands of farmers in California’s Central Valley in order to protect the delta smelt, a 3″ baitfish.  Cutting off the water didn’t save the smelt.  New studies showed that cutting off 90% of the water had no effect on the smelt.  It’s still endangered. Wrong remedy.  The video above is from the Reason Foundation. It outlines the problems of the valley.

What the ruling did was to turn the west side of the valley into a wasteland.  California’s Central Valley has long been one of the great breadbaskets of the world. The fields and groves went fallow, family farms went under, and food prices went up.  The farmers went through two years of supply cuts before science and better information appeared.  Many of the farms have been bought up by agribusiness — which the Green Lobby hates. Ironic.

California is in desperate shape. Businesses and people are moving out of the Golden State in droves. The state is a poster child for the left’s big government welfare state. Some 2.3 million Californians are without jobs.  The unemployment rate in the state is 12.5, over 16% in the Central Valley. The state has lost 34% of its industrial base. The state’s budget gap for 2009-2010 was $45.5 billion, 53% of state total spending.  The unfunded pension liabilities for California’s state and public employees may be as high as $500 billion.

California is rapidly approaching bankruptcy, and may be beyond repair. 80¢ of every government dollar goes to government employees’ pay and benefits.  A typical San Francisco resident with one dependent pays $953 for health care, while the city employee pays less than $10.

Victor Davis Hanson, a 5th generation Californian who grew up on a farm near Fresno where he still lives and farms and writes, describes the problems in California’s agricultural heartland:

“[I see] former small farms – the vineyards overgrown with weeds, or torn out with the ground lying fallow. …  I don’t think I can remember another time when so many acres in the eastern part of the valley have gone out of production, even though farm prices have recently rebounded. Apparently it is simply not worth the gamble of investing $7,000 to $10,000 an acre in a new orchard or vineyard.
On the western side of the Central Valley, the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed.  … California coastal elites may worry about the oxygen content of water available to a three-inch smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, but they seem to have no interest in the epidemic dumping of trash, furniture, and often toxic substances throughout California’s rural hinterland.”
Another former Californian, Allysia Finlay, an assistant editor at Opinion Journal writes:
“[The] government is run by a brothel of environmentalists, lawyers, public sector unions and legislative bums…When you inevitably crash and burn, don’t count on us to bail you out.”
In the center of California’s problems is the California Air Resources Board (CARB), run by an assistant former EPA administrator.  CARB plans to impose a pollution standard on Diesel exhausts, not backed by any scientific evidence, that would put California’s trucking industry out of business.  On top of that, they are attempting to impose a cap-and-trade policy that even California’s legislature has not been able to pass.  Neither science nor law will hold down the efforts of the Green activists. A San Francisco Supreme Court judge has issued a ruling that would keep CARB from implementing their plan.

The battle over water and the smelt goes on, and the science can go hang.



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