Governor Brown: don’t undermine environmental laws to push Delta Tunnels

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Delta advocates are very concerned that Jerry Brown may work with the incoming Donald Trump administration to weaken the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act to push through Brown’s “legacy” project, the Delta Tunnels, before he leaves office.

On November 10, Governor Jerry Brown offered his commitment to find “common ground wherever possible” with the incoming Trump Administration, but to oppose the new administration regarding climate change policies.

“Today we saw the beginning of the transfer of power to the President-elect,” said Brown. “While the prerogatives of victory are clear, so also are the responsibilities to ensure a strong and unified America. As President Lincoln said, ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ With the deep divisions in our country, it is incumbent on all of us – especially the new leadership in Washington – to take steps that heal those divisions, not deepen them. In California, we will do our part to find common ground whenever possible.”

“But as Californians, we will also stay true to our basic principles. We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time – devastating climate change,” the Governor stated.

In response, Restore the Delta on November 14 issued a statement calling on Governor Brown to advocate for the “full protection of San Francisco Bay-Delta fisheries and river flows for the estuary,” as he establishes his working relationship with President-elect Trump’s transition team and administration.

Restore the Delta’s executive director Barbara Barrrigan-Parrilla said:

“It is striking to us that Governor Brown did not mention protecting the Clean Water Act for drinking water supplies, or the Endangered Species Act in regard to fishery protections, in his statement about the incoming Trump Administration. While we oppose Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnels project, we know that all Californians, expect him, like every governor before him has done, to fight to enforce the federal Clean Water and the Endangered Species Acts to protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.

“Governor Brown must protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary in his dealings with the Trump Administration. If he does not, in order to push the Delta Tunnels project through the Federal approval process or to increase freshwater pumping from the endangered estuary, his legacy with Californians will be tarnished permanently. We call on him not to tie his Delta, environmental, and statewide water protection legacy to a weakening of these crucial and essential laws. We call on him to demonstrate to the new incoming Federal administration that saving the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary is as important to him as he has claimed it is while promoting the Delta Tunnels.”

In a hard slap in the face of all of those who care about salmon, the Delta and the environment, Trump on Friday appointed Representative Devin Nunes (CA-22), one of the most aggressive Congressional proponents of increasing Delta water exports to agribusiness and one of the fiercest opponents of fish and wildlife restoration in California and the West, to the 16-member executive committee of his transition team.

Nunes chairs the House Intelligence Committee and disagrees with Trump on issues including so-called “free trade” deals. Nunes is a backer of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Trump claims he will stop.

However, Nunes told McClatchy News last week that he believes Trump supports corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in their push to export more Delta water. Nunes has been one of the greatest advocates for the weakening of the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and other landmark environmental laws.

“The good thing is, he is more up to speed on water infrastructure than any other president we’ve had,” Nunes said. “Out here, everything is water, water, water.” (

Politico also reported Wednesday that David Bernhardt, a lawyer who co-chaired the natural resources department at the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and served as a George W. Bush Interior Department official, is leading the transition’s Interior Department team.

According to Congressional disclosures, his current lobbying clients include the Westlands Water District, considered the Darth Vader of California politics by Tribes, fishermen and environmentalists, and one of the biggest proponents of exporting more Delta water. Bernhart represented the Westlands Water District on litigation involving the Delta and the Endangered Species Act. (

Other members of Trump’s transition team include Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and a board member of Facebook; Trump’s sons and daughter Ivanka; and Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, who has worked as an investment banker with Goldman-Sachs, filmmaker and political consultant. On Sunday afternoon, Trump named the controversial Bannon as his chief strategist, according to Pema Levy in Mother Jones. (