Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 10, 2015

Groups criticize Calif. Gov. for ignoring Big Ag, Big Oil water use during drought

Photo of protest outside the Metropolitan Water District offices in Los Angeles courtesy of Food & Water Watch.

Groups criticize Brown for ignoring Big Ag, Big Oil water use during drought 

by Dan Bacher 
Censored News
Governor Jerry Brown embarked on a speaking tour in Southern California on Tuesday, June 9, to tout his controversial drought policies and tunnels plan as protesters rallied against his support of expanded fracking operations that pollute aquifers throughout the state. 

Brown attended the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California Board Meeting at noon and later joined Austin Beutner, publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, for a conversation on the state’s drought as part of a new event series sponsored by the Times called “The California Conversation.” 

As usual for the Brown administration, one of the least transparent administrations in California history, this meeting was not open to the public, but only to "credentialed media." 

Outside the MWD meeting in Los Angeles, a group of anti-fracking activists from Food and Water Watch and Californians Against Fracking held signs proclaiming, "Poison Water! Thanks Big Oil Brown," "Don't Frack the Golden State," "Stop Fracking Our Water," and "No Drill No Spill," as Governor Brown gushed about his drought policies that refuse to deal with the biggest water wasters - Big Ag and Big Oil. 

"If he really wants to do something about this drought, he'd put a moratorium on fracking," according to a Facebook post announcing the protest. 

Brown pushed really hard to gather support for his controversial tunnels plan at the MWD meeting, conjuring up images of portending disaster unless his Delta tunnels are built. 

“If we do nothing ... there will be a collapse, whether it be tomorrow, five years, 10 years, 20 years. It’s going to happen in the lifetime of the people in this room,” Brown said, according to the Los Angeles Times. (

“Think of this as an insurance policy. We’ve got to make sure that we can capture this water and convey it in a reliable, secure way," Brown claimed.

Then at approximately 6 pm, Brown also discussed the drought at an event entitled, "The California Conversation: Water in the West," hosted by the Los Angeles Times, at University of Southern California, Town and Gown in Los Angeles. 

More information on “The California Conversation” series and a livestream can be found at KCET, the event’s broadcast media partner, will feature the event in an upcoming episode of “SoCal Connected” airing Wednesday, June 10 at 8 p.m. on KCET and nationally Thursday, June 11 at 8 p.m. ET /PT on Link TV. 

According to the Governor's Office, "In April, Governor Brown announced the first ever 25 percent statewide mandatory water reductions and a series of actions to help save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state’s drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient."

Public trust advocates weren't impressed by the Brown administration's drought "actions." They slammed Brown for focusing on reducing urban and residential water use - and ignoring the state’s most egregious water wasters and polluters, including corporate agribusiness and Big Oil. 

“Governor Brown continues to allow big agribusiness and the oil and gas industry to abuse our precious ground and surface water resources unabated while demanding individual Californians and communities must cut back their use by twenty-five percent," said Adam Scow, California Campaign Director for Food & Water Watch. "By refusing to rein in Big Ag and Big Oil, Governor Brown is taking the politically easy way out, but it won’t be easy for Californians when reservoirs and taps run dry. It’s beyond time for Governor Jerry Brown to stop doing favors to special interest at the expense of California." 

“The Governor must start by placing immediate sensible limits on groundwater pumping in order to protect our water savings account for generations to come. In the longer term, the Governor must prioritize balancing California’s water budget to ensure responsible and sustainable allocations that work for all Californians. One important step in this process is retiring from production the toxic, arid lands on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that we do not have the water to support and compensate producers fairly for their losses," he noted. 

“Finally, Governor Brown must limit the oil and gas industry from using and polluting water and prevent the industry from injecting its toxic waste waster into protected aquifers. Governor Brown should place an immediate ban on fracking and extreme oil extraction as a real step towards replacing fossil fuels with clean and renewable energy," said Scow. 

Restore the Delta (RTD) criticized Brown for touting his "leadership" during the drought a month after telling critics of his Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the twin tunnels under the Delta to ‘shut up." 

"This follows on the heels of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent op-ed in the LA Times in which she continues to beat the drum for greater flexibility in managing water exports from the north part of the state to the south,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director. “It’s a shame that they both have forgotten the impacts of the drought on the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, which is on the verge of an ecological collapse, or the impacts of the drought on Delta farmers, who have voluntarily cut water use by 25%." 

"Both Governor Brown and Senator Feinstein continue to push forward a sixty-year-old vision of building big projects to move water from one part of the state to the other, claiming all the while it is for the benefit of Southern California residents. Yet, historically, 70% of the water taken from the Delta has gone, and continues to go, to big agribusiness growers like Stewart Resnick, who has publicly stated that he plans to expand his almond empire holdings by 50% over the next five years," she said. 

"The pumps have yet to be shut off one day during this four-year drought. Los Angeles water districts said they needed about 700,000 acre-feet of water for health and human safety. Yet, we know that 1.5 million acre-feet have been exported thus far this year, and the pumps continue pumping. Who is receiving that water and for what purpose?" asked Barrigan-Parrilla. 

"This is all part of Governor Brown’s shell game for the Delta tunnels. Use fear of disaster to sell people scared by the drought on the need for the Delta tunnels. Get urban ratepayers and property tax payers to pay for the project. Deliver the water to the hedge fund and conglomerate agribusiness growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley," she concluded. 

To read the entire news release, go to 

While Governor Brown has mandated that urban water districts cut back 25 percent on their water use, big growers like Stewart Resnick of Paramount Farms have expanded their water-thirsty almond growing operations. 

Agribusiness has increased its almond tree acreage by 150,000 acres during the current drought. For more information, please read my investivative piece in the East Bay Express: 

For a complete review of Governor Brown's abysmal environmental record, go to:

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