U.S. Interior Secretary and industry-shill extraordinaire David Bernhardt has seemingly once again used his public position to benefit his former employers. Just weeks ago, Bernhardt’s agency took steps to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for the imperiled delta smelt, after having pushed to raise a massive California dam at the expensive of sensitive ecosystems downstream, such as habitat for endangered Chinook salmon. Both moves intended to hand over more of the state’s in-demand water supply to a politically powerful group of agribusinesses from California’s Westlands Water District that—wait for it—used to employ Bernhardt as a lobbyist and lawyer. Now, the agency is proposing awarding one of its first contracts for permanent access to a massive amount of water under a 2016 law that Bernhardt lobbied Congress to enact. And you guessed it, the recipients would be the Westlands Water District. Small world, huh? Bernhardt worked directly as a lobbyist for Westlands up until 2017, when he joined the Interior Department to supposedly serve the public and protect our natural resources. How’s that going, Dave?
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Expert BlogDoug Obegi
Despite voluminous scientific evidence demonstrating the need to increase protections for endangered and threatened fish species, the Trump Administration is proposing to greatly weaken protections in order to increase water supply for the Westlands Water District and other water contractors.
SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, a coalition of fishing and conservation groups filed a lawsuit against Westlands Water District for unlawfully aiding efforts by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to raise Shasta Dam. The destructive project would flood critical parts of the…
Photographer Max Whittaker shows us the many faces of the delta, including its strange and fascinating history and the challenges complicating its future.