The Endangered Species Act has wreaked havoc for decades on rural communities, but a newly filed lawsuit could force San Francisco urbanites like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to share their pain.
A federal complaint filed this week contends that the Hetch Hetchy Project, which supplies water to San Francisco and the Bay Area, has unfairly enjoyed an exemption from the “severe cutbacks” required in rural California in order to save endangered fish species.
Craig Manson, who heads the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability (CESAR) in Fresno, said the lawsuit is aimed at addressing the “double standard” that forces farmers to give up water in the name of species conservation — without requiring Bay Area residents to do the same.
Mr. Manson wants the National Park Service to press the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to end the special exemption from the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but “the Park Service just won’t do it.”
Why not? Jeffrey Olson, National Park Service spokesman, said the agency cannot comment on ongoing litigation, but critics point out that San Joaquin Valley farmers have nowhere near the political clout of San Francisco’s political leadership, which includes Mrs. Pelosi and a good chunk of the state’s dominant liberal power structure.
“I think the law is being subjectively applied,” said Aubrey Bettencourt, executive director of the California Water Alliance. “California is a tale of two cities. If you added all the agrarian counties of California together in terms of registered voters, that’s not even enough to offset either San Francisco or Los Angeles. There are not enough votes.”
|Dry Lake in California Coast Range|
Water, of course, is a basic requirement for life, but it is also a commodity, and the market helps to control the price. When water is easy to get, the price should be low, and when it is difficult, the market will drive up the price and make users choose more wisely how to spend their water.
You might think that cities water needs are fairly well fixed by the number of people, but that is far from true. The average family uses about 300 gallons per day in the US at their household (not counting external uses, like manufacturing and irrigation used to make their goods and food). How much by contrast do you think they actually drink? Not all that much. We water our lawns, bath, and flush our shit with water treated to drinking water standards, not to mention public uses for municipal spaces (fountains, gardens). In an emergency, lawns can go brown, fountains and pools drained, and recycled "gray water" used to flush toilets and irrigate.
However, no need to do that if your urban democratic machine politicians can take the water away from the farmers who grow much of the nations food to provide it for the cities to waste at will. Whether or not that will be sustainable in the long run is an open question