The state’s editorial boards have voiced near unanimous opposition to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s plans to eviscerate protections for California’s endangered chinook salmon.
Feinstein announced last week that she is preparing a rider to a federal jobs bill to suspend rules protecting the iconic fish. As reported last week, if passed, this last minute maneuver would allow much more water to be pumped out of the ecologically-fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, sucking more salmon and other fish to their deaths in the giant water pumping facilities.
As the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “the rider defies court rulings, endangered-species protections and scientific studies, in order to ship delta water south for farming.”
Feinstein claims her measure would bring jobs to California. But fishing groups are quick to point out that damaging the Delta ecosystem hurts the salmon fishing industry, which returns $1.4 billion dollars to California’s economy. Restoring fish populations to healthy levels could create 94,000 new jobs.
The LA Times highlighted this contradiction. “It’s perverse to insert language in a jobs bill aimed at benefiting farmworkers without considering the impact on fishermen, whose industry has been devastated by heavy pumping of delta water.”
The San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, Eureka Times-Standard, and Monterey County Herald also editorialized against the measure.
Here’s a final bit of irony that a few of the editorial boards caught: A few months ago, at the urging of Beverley Hills billionaire and Ag tycoon Stewart Resnick, Feinstein requested that the National Academy of Science review the findings of federal biologists to determine whether their recent measures to protect endangered species in the Delta were necessary. Her new rider would require the Delta pumps to be cranked up to the maximum allowable limit before the Academy releases its report. After all the political wrangling to create the scientific review, you’d think she’d at least wait to hear what they say.