Premature View On Judge's 'Green' Ruling

FEB. 8, 2011


Chriss Street’s “CA Judges Get Cold Feet on Warming” (Feb. 7) prematurely celebrates Judges Ernest H. Goldsmith for recently halting the rollout of California’s cap and trade program and Judge Oliver Wanger’s December 2010 finding that stopping water deliveries to farms and cities to protect the Delta Smelt fish was based on sloppy science.

Judge Goldsmith’s ruling is merely procedural and temporary and is unlikely to deter the implementation of cap and trade in California.

Cap and Trade is a program that requires industries to “cap” their pollution emissions and compels them to buy (trade) emission credits from industries and power providers who have less pollution than their “cap,”  and was originally devised by Enron.

Goldsmith’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment to get exemptions for low income communities and “communities of color” from California’s Global Warming Solutions Act which is set to roll out in 2012.  In other words, if the court grants carve-outs to certain communities based on race and income, electricity rates for the working and middle classes will go up even higher than forecasted.  About the only thing to celebrate from the temporary order is that it signals that California’s Green Power Law won’t work, as it will be unaffordable to vulnerable groups.

Judge Goldsmith’s suspension of cap and trade is only a delay and is not a shut down of the cap and trade program.

Likewise, Judge Wanger’s December 2010 decision to end the environmental embargo on water deliveries to farms and cities to protect the Delta Smelt was offset by the news on Feb. 7 that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has been authorized by a different court to undertake yet another study, only this time to protect the Longfin Smelt in the Sacramento Delta.

Thus, cuts to water deliveries out of the Delta are likely to resume.  In other words, the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service under Obama administration, has undone Judge Wanger’s ruling. One might think that allowing more water to be impounded in the Delta will only threaten the dikes that hold the Delta’s water from flooding nearby communities. Water should be sent to farms and cities to lessen the threat of any failures of dikes in the Sacramento Delta due to earthquake.  But who would file such a counter lawsuit?

Some 2,500 years ago Aesop wrote the following fable, which indicates that the politics behind California’s adjudicated droughts is nothing new:

By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he could not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what he was doing down there. “Oh, have you not heard?” said the Fox; “there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order to be sure to have water by me. Why don’t you come down too?” The Goat thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the Fox immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well. “Good-bye, friend,” said the Fox, “remember next time… Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.”

And neither should we trust reports of environmental difficulties in the Sacramento Delta by the same gang that brought us the “Wettest Drought” of 2007 to 2010.

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