Monday, October 21, 2013

Is Jerry Brown Running Scared?

Governor Fails to Show for Environmental Award Under Pressure From Protest
Is Jerry Brown Running Scared?
Over 60 people, including indigenous leaders, environmentalists and labor activists, gathered at the Le Parc Hotel in San Francisco on Thursday, October 17 from 5:30 to 7 pm to protest the Blue Green Alliance’s honoring of Governor Jerry Brown with its “Right Stuff” Award.
Faced with the protest condemning his anti-environmental policies, Brown apparently decided to back out from receiving the award. In particular, the protest focused on Brown’s support for fracking, a massive twin tunnels project and his emissions trading scheme.
A video of the protest is available here.
The protest was organized by a group of individuals unaffiliated with national environmental organizations who were galvanized by Brown’s most recent assault on the environment: the green lighting of fracking in California.
“Jerry Brown ignored the majority of Californians and the rank and file of the Democratic Party who support a moratorium on fracking,” said organizer Damien Luzzo. “He signaled that he would not sign any of the moratorium bills and only signed the already weak SB4, after he gutted it at the 11th hour at the behest of Big Oil.”
According to organizer Lauren Steiner, “When I worked on Jerry Brown’s presidential campaign in 1992, he was an uncompromised environmentalist. Now he will support any industry, including polluting ones, if he thinks it can bring jobs and tax revenues. In 1992, the old Jerry Brown limited his campaign contributions to under $100, so he wouldn’t be beholden to special interests. The new Jerry Brown has accepted $2.5 million over the past few years from the oil and gas industry.”...
“It is ludicrous for Blue Green Alliance to give the Governor an award. Attacks on the environment or workers will not save our planet,” said Ongerth.
As attendees of the dinner were arriving, protesters also handed an alternative program for the event featuring the 10 worst environmental policies of Governor Brown. 

These include: the twin tunnel plan; plans to weaken the California Environmental Water Quality Act (CEQA); record water exports out of the Delta in 2011; record Delta fish kills; the signing of Senate Bill 4; clear cutting in the Sierra Nevada; pro-oil industry appointments to the Department of Conservation; the support of “theme park” wetlands; the failure to abide by the fish doubling provisions of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) and support of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).  
The program also included the list of groups and individuals who should have received an environmental award this year instead of Jerry Brown.
Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher
For more information about Jerry Brown’s abysmal environmental record, go to:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Industrial Toxin Selenium May Be Killing Off Honey Bees

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Selenium, a chemical element that is both naturally occurring and often found near mining and industrial activities, can delay the development of or even kill honey bees, according to new research in the October issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside found that the four primary forms of the anthropogenic pollutant – selenate, selenite, methylselenocysteine and selenocystine – can cause mortality and developmental delays in the insects, which are important agricultural pollinator both domestically and abroad. The authors believe that the bees could become contaminated through the biotransfer of the metal from selenium-accumulating plants.

“Metal pollutants like selenium contaminate soil, water, can be accumulated in plants, and can even be atmospherically deposited on the hive itself,” explained lead author Kristen Hladun a postdoctoral entomologist at the university. “Our study examined the toxic effects of selenium at multiple life stages of the honey bee in order to mimic the chronic exposure this insect may face when foraging in a contaminated area.”

According to the university, selenium contamination is a global issue that originated from naturally contaminated soils as well as sources that are human in origin, including coal-fired power plants, petroleum refineries or factories. Low concentrations of the element can be beneficial to many creatures – in fact, the authors noted that it is a critical component of an antioxidant enzyme. Higher levels of the metal can be toxic to several different types of insects, however.

Honey bees ingest selenium through contaminated pollen and nectar, Hladun and her colleagues discovered. Organic forms of the metal can alter protein conformation, causing developmental issues, while inorganic forms can lead to oxidative stress. Hladun said that additional research is required to determine if selenium can damage the bee’s internal organs, or if the insect is able to somehow detoxify the compounds.

Read more

Friday, September 20, 2013

Distilled critique of DWR’s latest escapade at its public transparency charade

By Patrick Porgans, Solutionist

Dan Bacher’s article regarding “First Amendment Project: barring public from filming a BDCP public meeting is illegal”, makes interesting reading, along with the First Amendment Project’s legalese as to whether a person can video-tape a public meeting.

The Department of Water Resources' (DWR) Public Information Officer, Nancy Vogel, did precisely what she is paid to do -- damage control. DWR's hyperbole, it is all about “transparency”, is simply public-relation rhetoric. When it comes to accepting meaningful public input DWR officials have a long track record of operating in a vacuum. Anyone that has had dealings with DWR officials see right through Vogel’s and her predecessor’s revolving-door 1970s “pantyhose one-size-fit-all” stretch the truth phenomenon; i.e., if one simply ignored the historical facts and DWR's lack-luster performance, and is mindful that to government employees like Vogel, it is just a job that pays the mortgage, then, perhaps this critique will assist in clarifying the department’s interpretation of transparency.

DWR's blatant disregard for meaningful public input is a well established fact; it is all a matter of public record. A classic example of how DWR welcomed public input was exemplified in the County of Butte, the major source of the SWP supply, wherein DWR officials and their water contractors treatment of citizens that opposed DWR's SWP Oroville facilities relicensing program was despicable. During those proceeding DWR told public participants that they were legally required to sign a “confidentiality agreement” that they would not discuss certain issues pertaining to its relicensing project. Planetary Solutionaries and Porgans & Associates were participants in the relicensing process, and challenged DWR to provide the legal basis for such a requirement. As it turned out, DWR just made it up.

It is general knowledge that DWR is rife with conflicts of interest, as a water purveyor and as a trustee of the public’s water project, and the manner in which it conducts the public's business and disdain for meaningful public input has and remains DWR’s modus operandi (MO). DWR will undoubtedly continue its MO, unless, someone steps up to the plate and take action to hold it accountable, which is exactly what Planetary Solutionaries have and will continue to do.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

by Dan Bacher 
On March 2, 2012, California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and Deputy Secretary of Interior David Hayes committed themselves to making sure that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels was an “open and transparent" process. 

“Our agencies are taking actions to ensure a fair, open and transparent process, and the opportunity for input by all interested parties in the development of this plan to address the future of California’s Bay Delta and water supply,” they wrote in a letter to then State Senator Michael J. Rubio, who in February resigned from office in order to take a “government affairs” position at Chevron. (

Yet, the Brown and Obama administrations have gone in the exact opposite direction from the one they committed to on that date, going so far as to bar members of the news media from recording a public meeting to answer Delta residents’ questions and concerns about the controversial project to build twin peripheral tunnels. 

Restore the Delta on Friday released a video shot by a business reporter who attended the BDCP "office hours" the Brown administration held at the Brentwood Library on September 3. 

The "office hours" were public meetings advertised as an opportunity to get answers to Delta landowners’ concerns, according to Restore the Delta (RTD). For more information, go to

Friday, September 6, 2013

State Water Boards and Health Department runs afoul of Clean/Safe Water Acts
by Patrick Porgans and Lloyd Carter
Wednesday Sep 4th, 2013 5:35 PM
The following is Part Two of a story posted at on May 22. This part concerns California's abysmal efforts to meet goals set by the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. For more information, contact Patrick Porgans pp [at]
Forty-one years ago, a united Congress overrode President Nixon's veto of the Clean Water Act (CWA), which ordered states to limit pollutants in the nation's waterways. Coupled with subsequent amendments, the CWA required all states to assess and establish Total Maximum Daily Limits (TMDLs) of pollutants for lakes, creeks, rivers, estuaries and ocean shorelines. If the states wouldn't do it, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “could” step in and impose safety limits.

Some 41 years down the road and California still has a long ways to go in assessing and establishing TMDLs statewide. EPA’s latest published report indicate that only 16 percent of the State’s rivers and stream were assessed; 84 percent classified as “water-quality impaired”. Ten percent of those rivers and streams were classified as “good”, the remainder 90 percent impaired.

“California has some of the most magnificent rivers, lakes and coastal waters in the country. However, of its 3.0 million acres of lakes, bays, wetlands and estuaries, 1.6 million acres are not meeting water quality goals, and 1.4 million acres still need a pollution clean-up plan, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Of the 215,000 miles of shoreline, streams and rivers, 30,000 miles are not meeting water quality goals, and 20,000 miles still need a TMDL. The most common contaminants in these waterways are pesticides and bacteria, followed by metals and nutrients,” according to EPA. [Refer to Part I: Dirty little secrets about CWA.]

Indeed, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) and the state Department of Public Health (DPH), based on their performance and track-record, are playing Russian-Roulette with citizens' lives, given that dangerous toxins and poisons continue to plague public drinking supplies and the waters of the state, decade after decade. Getting all of California's rivers, lakes, estuaries and ocean shorelines clean enough to drink or swim in may be decades away.

The goal of the CWA was to make U.S. waterways fishable and swimmable by 1983 and to achieve “zero” discharge of pollutants to waterways by 1985. The historical records and the current status of the widespread pollution of the public’s streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and ground water basins are a testament to the manner in which both the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDA) of 1974 are “managed” by California water officials.

Four decades and an estimated expenditure of $40 billion of federal taxpayer funds and state borrowed money under the guise of “Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking water supply”, California’s waterways remain contaminated, and, according to the data, the problem is getting worse.                                                                                                                                                             

Trends in toxicity have increased by 170 percent since 2006

Increased water monitoring data shows the number of rivers, streams and lakes in California exhibiting overall toxicity have increased 170 percent from 2006 to 2010. Source:

More of California’s waterways are toxically polluted/water quality impaired than previously known, according to a list of polluted waterways submitted by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and finalized by the agency. The data indicate an increase in toxicity and listing of water impaired bodies will continue to rise. The State Board and regional water boards administer the provisions of the CWA under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Read more.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wolk introduces bond to fund state water projects

From page A1 | August 14, 2013 | 8 Comments
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, introduced a $5.6 billion water bond Tuesday to provide funding for projects to address the state’s water needs.

“SB 42 is a fresh approach to this bond discussion,” said Wolk, who chairs the Senate Governance and Finance Committee and the Select Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability.

“It focuses on funding the most effective, broadly supported projects that will meet the state’s most urgent water needs. At roughly half the amount of the $11.14 billion water bond currently slated for the 2014 ballot, this proposal is much more realistic.”

Senate Bill 42, The Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality & Flood Protection Act of 2014, provides funding for projects that provide safe drinking water to those Californians who still do not have access to this basic resource, improve water supply reliability while decreasing demand on the state’s most stressed watershed, advance community support ecosystem restoration and improve levees in the delta.

The projects funded by the bond will benefit all regions of the state. Specifically, SB 42 addresses needs for the following:
* Regional water supply development around the state;
* Safe and clean drinking water;
* Delta community-supported ecosystem restoration and levee enhancement in the delta;
* Funding for watershed and ecosystem projects around the state;
* Support for development of groundwater and surface water storage to the extent that those facilities
   will provide public benefits; and
* Flood protection in the Central Valley.

“SB 42 will address the needs of the more than 2 million Californians who don’t have access to clean drinking water, and the more than 1 million Californians who are not adequately protected from catastrophic flood risk, while at the same time addressing the crisis in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta,” Wolk said.

The delta is a fertile agricultural region and is the largest estuary in the Western Hemisphere, said the senator, who represents four of the five counties in the delta.

“This is a bond I believe my colleagues and voters can support,” she added.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

EPA approves state's revised drinking water plan

 By Emily Foxhall

July 24, 2013

After threatening to cut off funding to California earlier this spring because the state had been so slow to improve its drinking water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the state’s revised spending plan.

“I think as a result of this process, Californians can be more assured that their infrastructure needs are being met,” said EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld.

In April, the EPA issued a noncompliance warning to the California Department of Public Health, amid complaints that funds were not being distributed promptly or efficiently. Californians in many communities have suffered from a lack of potable water while the state left $455 million in federal funds unspent and failed to pursue an additional $260 million in loan repayments, EPA officials found.

Meanwhile, many residents in low-income communities were forced to buy bottled water or drive many miles to get safe tap water.

The state submitted its “corrective action plan” on June 24. The EPA requested that the state revise and clarify various aspects, and a new plan was submitted on July 12.

Under the new commitments approved Tuesday, the state must distribute at least $878 million to projects by mid-2016. That would be more than double the amount of funding disbursed during the past four years.

In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the department plans to distribute $200 million.

Blumenfeld said funding commitments were better spelled out in the new plan, and the state will be able to account for and track the money more closely. But the EPA’s continued support of the state’s programs depends on the department’s ability to follow through on its promises, Blumenfeld said.

The revised plan will pay for water system projects of all sizes in the state, Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the state Department of Public Health and state public health officer, said in a statement Wednesday.

Safe drinking water advocates are hopeful that the state’s renewed attention to the funding problems will help smaller, disadvantaged communities, said Omar Carrillo, a policy analyst for the Community Water Center, an advocacy group that works on behalf of low-income people.

The department identified 183 small systems in 2012 that merited assistance.

Assemblymember Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno), who introduced a bill that would transfer drinking water programs from the department of public health to the state water board, said the EPA approval does not mean all problems have been solved.

In a statement, he said the drinking water program should still be under different governance to ensure increased transparency and greater public participation, among other things.


 State stops waiting for FEMA to help

•  Will repair about 90 miles of levees

Nearly 90 miles of levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are to be rebuilt to one degree or another to provide protection against flooding, the state Department of Water Resources says.

The 14 separate reclamation district projects will receive a total of nearly $30 million under what’s called the “Delta Special Flood Control Projects’ Hazard Mitigation Plan Levee Repair and Improvement Project Solicitation Package.”

The projects include landslide levee repair, all-weather road construction, erosion repair and other improvements, along with mitigation for any habitat damage.

The largest grant is $7.2 million, the smallest $348,000. Negotiations continue with eight other districts that could add 39 miles of levee improvements and $13.9 million in grant funds to the funding package, says DWR.

Funding for these projects has been on hold since December when the Federal Emergency Management Agency withdrew from an agreement that would have assured FEMA flood assistance to reclamation districts that met FEMA’s levee criteria. These grant funds are made available for the purpose of improving levees to meet the HMP criteria.

Negotiations with FEMA for a new agreement have been unsuccessful in restoring the HMP criteria, says the state. “However, DWR considers the projects selected for funding critical to the Delta and all of California and seeks to proceed without further delay,” the department says.

Agreements with the districts sponsoring approved projects should be signed no later than December, with funding made available in time for construction to begin early next year, DWR says.


» A list of all applicants and their projects is here :


Friday, July 19, 2013

Federal agencies reviewing draft for proposal to re-plumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta call it 'insufficient' and 'biased.'
By Bettina Boxall
July 18, 2013

Federal agencies reviewing draft environmental documents for the state's proposal to re-plumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are criticizing the work as "insufficient," "biased" and "confusing."
The federal comments suggest it's going to be tough for the state to meet its self-imposed deadline of releasing the draft this October for official public comment, an important step in moving the project forward.

In what would be the biggest water supply project constructed in California in half a century, the state is proposing to build a large diversion point on the Sacramento River in the north delta and send the water through two 35-mile tunnels to aqueducts serving the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

By adding the diversion point and restoring more than 100,000 acres of delta habitat, the south-of-the-delta urban and agricultural water contractors who have promised to pay for much of the project are hoping to get relief from environmental restrictions on their deliveries.
The project, estimated to cost about $24 billion, must pass muster with federal fishery agencies that oversee endangered species protections for migrating salmon and the delta's imperiled native fish.

In response to previous federal comments, the state reduced the number of river intakes and agreed to propose initial operating rules for the project that would increase flows in the delta — giving contractors less water than they want. If the restoration efforts succeed in improving conditions for delta fish, the rules could be changed to allow for more water exports under the project's adaptive management program.
But judging by the latest round of comments, posted online Thursday by the state Natural Resources Agency, federal biologists still aren't satisfied.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, which oversees protection for salmon that migrate through the delta, called the environmental draft "currently insufficient" and said it "will need to be revised."
The fisheries agency faulted the draft for arriving at "seemingly illogical conclusions" in some sections or lacking analysis to back up a conclusion.

In one part of the lengthy draft, "both the language and the content … are advocating for the project and could be perceived as biased," the fisheries service wrote.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees protections for the delta smelt and other native fish, also
spotted pro-project bias in the draft, which was prepared by a consultant and is supposed to present an objective overview of the proposal's environmental effects.

Citing one paragraph, fish and wildlife said the wording amounted to "unjustified advocacy." Other comments called the document "very difficult to read" and cited "factual and analytical errors."
Repeating earlier criticisms, federal biologists also said the assumed benefits of restoration were unproven.
In a statement, Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Jerry Meral said his agency was confident "that all the issues raised in the comments can be successfully resolved in the coming months."

"It is important to remember that regulatory agencies by their nature do not give out 'gold stars' for work, but road maps for improvement," Meral said. "We will continue to follow that map."



JPMorgan may settle California energy market manipulation case

JP Morgan may has been negotiating a settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over its role in trading electricity in California.
(Source LA Times)
Andrew Tangel and Marc Lifsher
July 18, 2013

NEW YORK — California utility customers could one day split more than $100 million if federal regulators settle with JPMorgan Chase & Co. over allegations that the nation's biggest bank manipulated the state's energy market.
JPMorgan has been negotiating a settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over its role in trading electricity in California, according to a source familiar with the matter.
It was unclear how much of a settlement would wind up going to the U.S. Treasury and how much might be returned to California ratepayers. JPMorgan could wind up paying around $500 million including civil penalties, said this person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
JPMorgan caught regulators' attention in 2011. That year the California Independent System Operator, which manages much of the state's wholesale power market, suspected that JPMorgan was manipulating the power market.
Cal-ISO alleged that the bank was involved in placing deceptive bids to profit from energy trading and inflated payments. The scheme resulted in more than $100 million in unjust profits, Cal-ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle said.
As part of a potential settlement, the disgorged profits could go first to utilities and then to ratepayers through a California Public Utilities Commission proceeding, she said.
Spokespeople from FERC and JPMorgan declined to comment.
The looming possible settlement with JPMorgan comes as FERC this week ordered the British bank Barclays and four of its traders to pay $453 million in civil penalties in a separate case of alleged market manipulation. They were accused of gaming electricity markets in California and other markets from late 2006 through late 2008.
FERC's order also called for Barclays to disgorge $34.9 million, plus interest, in "unjust profits." Those funds would go to energy-assistance programs for low-income residents of California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.
Barclays, for its part, has pledged to fight FERC's order: "We believe that our trading was legitimate and in compliance with applicable law," the bank said in a statement.
In January, German banking giant Deutsche Bank settled a market-manipulation probe by agreeing to pay FERC a $1.5-million civil penalty and disgorge profits of $172,645.
Consumer advocates believe that Wall Street market manipulation is more widespread than these recent cases.
"FERC has managed to catch a small fraction of the very complex manipulation schemes engineered by sophisticated banks, and we're just seeing a tip of the iceberg," said Tyson Slocum, energy program director at the advocacy group Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. "The manipulation is so widespread that FERC is simply catching what it can."
Even though a $500-million settlement with JPMorgan would be a record for FERC, Slocum said the amount would not be enough.
He called on FERC to calculate how much JPMorgan's manipulation might have cost individual customers. "A company stole money from California consumers, lied about it and they're going to get a slap on the wrist," Slocum said. "That's not justice."
News of the settlement negotiations with JPMorgan was earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
Mindy Spatt, a spokeswoman for a San Francisco ratepayers advocacy group, the Utility Reform Network, said customers should be repaid in market-manipulation cases.
"The bottom line is we don't want to see any energy traders treat California as a source of easy profits," Spatt said. "We do need strong oversight to ensure traders are not taking advantage of us. No one knows better than California how much manipulation can hurt consumers."


Friday, July 5, 2013

Safe water: Public health is at risk with proposed California legislation

Special to the Mercury News
Posted:   07/03/2013 03:00:00 PM PDT
Updated:   07/04/2013 11:57:04 AM PDT

For local water managers, nothing is more critical than delivering safe drinking water. There is a tremendous amount of work involved, from monitoring supplies and distribution systems to extensive sampling and testing to verify the safety and quality of water before it enters customers' homes. Thousands of samples are analyzed in laboratories to ensure that water is safe. Wells and hundreds of miles of water mains also must be tested and maintained.
In most parts of California, this happens like clockwork -- but not in some rural communities. Recent studies have found small, economically disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley and the Tulare Lake Basin, for example, where drinking water sources are contaminated and there are no alternatives readily available.
Action is needed, but the solutions we choose must not create new problems.
One proposal moving through the Legislature is raising concerns: Assembly Bill 145 by assemblymen Henry Perea and Anthony Rendon is well-intended but takes an approach that could undermine public health protection.
The challenges facing these communities are complex. They need targeted solutions and collaboration to address a range of technical, administrative, financial and governmental issues.
One problem has been the state Department of Public Health's management of a critical revolving fund to provide grants and loans to communities for drinking water projects. The department acknowledges shortcomings that have caused delays in disbursing funds, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared the program out of compliance with federal requirements.
Instead of dealing with the fund directly, however, AB 145 seeks to move the entire drinking water regulatory program to the State Water Resources Control Board. The state board has an important mission in protecting water quality and regulating wastewater and stormwater discharges, but it is not a public health agency, and it is not led by public health experts.
That matters because the drinking water regulatory program must focus first and foremost on protecting public health. Moving the entire program out of the Department of Public Health could undermine its public health focus and weaken emergency response to waterborne illnesses and other water security threats. What's more, it would lead to disruptions that could impede key activities such as monitoring and permitting the state's 7,500 drinking water systems and providing 24-hour emergency response to protect public health.
It would be a mistake. The dangers are too great. That's why water agencies and public health groups around the state believe AB 145 in its current form is not the solution.
A better approach is to focus on correcting problems with the revolving fund. The Department of Public Health submitted a corrective action plan to the EPA on June 24. Read more...


Thursday, June 6, 2013

EPA And Lawmakers Call Lack of Clean Drinking Water Unacceptable

(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, June 06, 2013

Map of Proposed Clean Drinking Water Projects
The Environmental Protection Agency says California is violating the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The EPA says the state’s Department of Public Health has failed to spend nearly a half billion dollars in federal money to provide safe drinking water.
It’s estimated the state will have to spend 40 billion dollars over the next two decades to fix the problem.

Some lawmakers are outraged by what they see as a bureaucratic nightmare within the Department of Public Health.

Marta Saldibar, her husband and son have lived in the tiny community of Springfield in the Salinas Valley for six years.

In that time, she’s paid her monthly water bill. Then she’s paid close to $100 a month for bottled water.

Her well water, like that of her neighbors, has a nitrate contamination level six times higher than what is safe to drink.

“I just think it’s unfair that because we live in a poor neighborhood we have to wait all this time to get the water that we should have,” says Saldibar. Read more

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

FBI has examined water agency with Calderon ties

SACRAMENTO -- Officials at the FBI would not say why they raided the offices of Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) and the Latino Legislative Caucus at the Capitol on Tuesday, but prior to the raid they interviewed at least one official in Los Angeles about contracts at an agency with links to Calderon and one of his brothers.

A company official who bid on work at the Central Basin Municipal Water District in Los Angeles County said Tuesday that he had been interviewed twice by FBI agents since March about the agency's contracting practices. Central Basin has paid up to $140,000 a year on a consultant contract with Tom Calderon, the senator’s brother and a former state lawmaker himself.
In addition, Ron Calderon has authored legislation on behalf of Central Basin in the past.
Michael J. Franchek, a vice president at EcoGreen Services, said Tuesday that the FBI agents wanted to hear about his complaints and allegations that favoritism has been involved in contract awards, including the one that went to Tom Calderon.
Franchek said he talked to the agents about a federal stimulus grant to Central Basin. The water agency officials held competitive bidding and chose a firm called Water2Save to work on the project.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that Tom Calderon also has a consulting contract with Water2Save.
“Our conversation went to Tom Calderon’s relationship with Central Basin,” Franchek said, adding that he voiced concern that Sen. Ron Calderon’s influential status in the Legislature might have affected contracting decisions.

Calderon hasn't done anything wrong, his lawyer says,0,7720439.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly

Friday, May 31, 2013

By Chris "Maven" Austin | 05/30/13 12:00 AM PST

The price tag is up to nearly $25 billion, but the benefits are up, too, says the Brown administration as the state inches forward to launch an unprecedented project to move more northern California water south through a pair of tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

On Wednesday, the administration pegged the cost at $24.7 billion, about a billion dollars more than previously estimated. But the administration also said there would be $5 billion worth of benefits over the next five decades, reflecting a more reliable water supply, improved water quality and other improvements.

The revised cost figures came in the release of a final round of paper work surrounding the proposal which, if built, would be the costliest state public works project ever and about four times the $6.3 billion price tag of the new Bay Bridge. Read more

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Agency Fails To Recoup Tax Money Spent on Toxic Cleanup

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control spent $100 million of taxpayer's money over 26 years to clean contaminated property but failed to collect reimbursements from liable polluters. The department also identified a separate $40 million wrapped up in legal matters and another $45 million for which bills were sent but reimbursements were never collected.

Lisa Tucker of Consumer Watchdog, who wrote an investigative report characterizing the agency as troubled, pro-business and weak in enforcement, said the disclosure of $100 million in neglected reimbursement deserves a "full-scale independent financial audit." Read more:
     "California Agency Failed To Collect $100 Million for Cleanup of Contaminated Sites" (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 5/30).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Decision could accelerate new regulations on runoff

Record Staff Writer
May 26, 2013 12:00 AM
A judge's decision could speed new rules regulating polluted runoff from farms, rules that growers say will be costly and burdensome.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley last week sided with state water quality officials, finding the environmental reports they prepared supporting the new rules were adequate.
Frawley also ruled that temporary rules already in place fail to protect water quality. But he said they can remain until the permanent regulations are written.
His decision is the latest legal twist in what's known as the "ag waiver."
Under the federal Clean Water Act, farmers are not required to get permits to cover the polluted irrigation water that drains off their fields into rivers and streams.
However, they're now required to join coalitions and pay a per-acre fee to help fund water quality testing and educational outreach.
The permanent rules could add burdens, such as more frequent reporting and a requirement that farmers monitor groundwater quality.
The ag waiver has been attacked from multiple fronts, with farmers saying it is burdensome, and environmentalists saying it doesn't go far enough. To read more

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monsanto GMO’s sprout seeds of unity among the world’s people

By: Patrick Porgans, Planetary Solutionaries

Monsanto genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) seeds sprout unity amongst people of all nations and denominations. Globally, media sources estimated two-million protestors emerged onto the streets in major cities throughout the world, during the U.S. celebrated Memorial Day weekend.

Participants contend that this massive demonstration is Blowback resulting from a front-end loaded piece of legislation -- the so-called Monsanto Protection Act – approved by U.S. lawmakers earlier this year and signed into law days later by U.S. President Barack Obama; despite strong opposition from both the agriculturalists, consumers and environmentalists.

In March, the U.S. Congress passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, which contained a provision that has put St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto in the cross hairs of people from all walks of life, concerned about the safety and future of their food supply.

Critics contend that the Act contains language that threaten to contaminate the food supply; language they claim was intentionally buried in Section 735 that gives a green light to Monsanto and other biotech companies that experiment with genetically-engineered, genetically-modified crops, allowing them to market laboratory produced products even if legal action is taken against them.

“The provision would strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentially hazardous GE [genetically engineered] crop while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) assesses those potential hazards… Further, it would compel USDA to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request, even if in the course of its assessment the Department finds that it poses previously unrecognized risks.”

Protesters across the spectrum are espousing one common message -- stop Monsanto from contaminating the earth’s life-support food producing system from the potential adverse ecological impacts of GMOs.

Monsanto representatives paint a different picture asserting that GMOs is a better way to feed a growing population with its “patented” blend of chemicals and treated seeds, which it claims will be safer, produce greater yields, use less chemical and be more sustainable.

Critics are quick to point out that this is the same Monsanto that manufactured such toxic chemicals as DDT, PCBs, and Agent Orange; it claimed were safe decades ago. However, history has shown Monsanto’s assurances of safety were blatantly false as all of those chemicals have been found to be extremely toxic. And, although they have been seriously restricted or banned, these cancer causing toxic chemicals are still showing up in the ecosystem, and scientific reports show that they will continue to persist into the distance future.

Even government insiders acknowledge that the Monsanto Protection Act is a pre-emptive gag order that attempts to limit or restrict judicial and administrative intervention; essentially, placing the public and the consumer in a defensive position and allows Monsanto to continue doing business as usual.

Last week, Senator Merkley of Oregon announced that he’s is introducing an amendment to repeal the Monsanto Act. In a press release, the Senator called the provision “…an outrageous example of a special interest loophole.”

Whatever the case, it appears Monsanto’s actions have released the Genie out-of-the bottle, and the battle over who will prevail and what types of food the consumer will eat is now on the table. Read more at