State of salmon

The best quip of the President’s State of the Union address: “… the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Nice joke, good speech, but the laugh is a short-lived one for Californians, raising as the gag does the suggestion that in streamlining the way we manage salmon it would somehow be possible to tilt power from the agency that protects the fish when they migrate (Commerce) toward the agency that drains rivers of the fresh water that they need to breed (Interior).

Or vice versa.

This taxpayer for one is happy that Commerce is there to demand that the Endangered Species Act be invoked when salmon are imperiled by freshwater diversions to farms and cities. At the same time, this Californian is

Shopping at the science store

US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has joined California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in an attempt to return inconvenient data to the science store, reports the New York Times today. They are not happy, not happy at all, with “biological opinions” of federal scientists to do with the health of California fisheries. They would like to hire expertise more to the liking of powerful Central Valley constituents served by water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — and more to the liking of one constituent in particular, Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick.

9/25/2009 Update: Senator Feinstein responds to her critics in the San Francisco Chronicle. Link after the jump.

Interior appropriations chair questions legality of Cadiz pipeline right-of-way

US SENATOR Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Interior appropriations committee, has challenged Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to certify the legality of plans by Cadiz Inc to use a 42-mile-long stretch of a Mojave railway line for part of a groundwater project in San Bernardino County.

Meanwhile, lobbyists for the speculators behind the project, Cadiz Inc, have been courting Southland public utilities to sign on to the project, possibly including a lucrative groundwater contract with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

UPDATE: 8/31/2009, 4.02pm  — Cadiz reply after the jump

FURTHER UPDATE: 9/2/2009 — LADWP update after the jump

“Carving Up the Commons” explains the dark art of Western land deals

 

To download this book for free, or to order a copy for $10 from the Western Lands Project, click on the cover art

IF YOU have ever driven the stunning reaches of the Mojave, Sonoran and Great Basin deserts and wondered who owns them, the answer is: You do. It is almost all public land.

But for how long and under what terms is by no means certain. Janine Blaeloch’s new book Carving Up the Commons: Congress & Our Public Lands explains the history of that land, the challenges we face in preserving it and the dark art of Congressional land deals that are steadily wheeling millions of acres and the region’s best resources into private hands.

Carving up the Commons is of especial interest to Westerners. While the fate of public land is decided in Washington DC, most of the land itself is in the West. The pressure to

Babbitt aide choice for Bureau of Land Management

THE  Salt Lake Tribune reports, “Bob Abbey, who helped former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt complete a Utah wilderness inventory 10 years ago, is President Barack Obama’s nominee to head up the US Bureau of Land Management. Full story here and June 10 follow up here. Background on Federal West here.

Via Great Basin Water Network.

From the Las Vegas Sun, June 10, “Abbey was the choice of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who personally recommended him to Interior Secretary Ken Salzar for the job.”