Public access to Oroville Dam records blocked by Jerry Brown administration

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As California Governor Jerry Brown prepared to meet with Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke in Sacramento on April 13 to discuss water and other issues, the Brown administration denied the Sacramento Bee access to State of California public records regarding the Oroville Dam crisis.

According to a news release from Restore the Delta (RTD), Delta farmers, fishermen, and residents are asking: “What is the actual financial situation at the State Water Project, and why is this information being hidden from California taxpayers?”

On the denial of public records, the Bee reports“Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is using federal security regulations written to thwart terrorism to deny public access to records that experts say could guide repairs to the Oroville Dam and provide insight into what led to the near catastrophic failure of its emergency spillway.

“The administration also is blocking public review of records that would show how Brown’s office handled the February crisis at Oroville Dam that led to the two-day evacuation of nearly 200,000 Northern Californians.”

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, slammed the blocking of public access to records by the Jerry Brown administration. This is an administration that has become known for its penchant for secrecy and its lack of openness and transparency in an array of environmental processes, ranging from the California Water Fix to the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

“Restricting access to public records about the Oroville Dam is just another reason why Californians no longer trust Governor Brown’s leadership on water and infrastructure,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “Not only will the public be forbidden to know what the California Department of Water Resources knew before the crisis, we will not know who is going to pay for repairs.”

“This type of cloak and dagger has also become standard with regard to planning for the proposed Delta Tunnels. We filed a public records act request in October 2016 to better understand the DWR’s history regarding the sale of revenue bonds and the tunnels. We still have not received the documents we requested,” she stated.

“Why is Jerry Brown keeping the public in the dark about the costs and real problems with the State Water Project? Is it because he wants Californians to believe there’s enough money for all the needed repairs AND his $17 billion tunnels proposal?” she asked.

In other Delta Tunnels news, the Delta Stewardship Council has changed their meeting date on the Delta Tunnels and the Delta Plan amendment from April 27th, 2017 to April 28th, 2017. Please adjust your plans according! More information at this link.

The Delta Tunnels & MLPA Initiative are deeply linked

One of the least discussed issues in California environmental politics – and one of the most crucial to understanding Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels Plan – is the clear connection between the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative and the California WaterFix, formerly called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

At a time when local, national and international mainstream media are focusing on the Oroville Dam crisis, it’s important for reporters to dig deeper and understand the context that the emergency, which spurred the evacuation of over 188,000 people in Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties, occurs within.

It’s crucial to understand that these two neo-liberal processes, the MLPA Initiative and the California Water Fix, are the environmental “legacy” that two Governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, have devoted their energy, staff and money to, rather than doing the mundane but necessary process of maintaining and repairing the state’s water infrastructure, including Oroville Dam.

The privately-funded MLPA Initiative and the California WaterFix at first may appear to be entirely different processes.

The MLPA Initiative, a process begun in 2004 under the Schwarzenegger administration, purported to create a network of “marine protected areas” along the California coast. The network was supposedly completed on December 19, 2012 with the imposition of contested “marine protected areas” along the North Coast under the Jerry Brown administration.

On the other hand, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan process began under the Bush and Schwarzenegger administrations to achieve the so-called “co-equal goals” of water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration. In 2015, the state and federal governments divided the BDCP into two projects, the California WaterFix, the conveyance component and the California EcoRestore, the habitat “restoration” component.

But in spite of some superficial differences, the two processes are united by their (1) leadership, (2) funding, (3) greenwashing goals, (4) racism, environmental injustice and denial of tribal rights, (5) junk science and (6) numerous conflicts of interest. When people educate themselves on the links between the two processes, I believe they can more effectively wage a successful campaign against the Delta Tunnels and to restore our imperiled salmon and San Francisco Bay-Delta fisheries.

For more information about the links between the Delta Tunnels and MLPA Initiative processes, go to:…