Delta tunnel is simply too dangerous to bend environmental guidelines

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plans to ease environmental guidelines and bypass the legislative course of to get statewide infrastructure initiatives fast-tracked would pave the best way for California ratepayers to fund a multi-billion-dollar environmentally disastrous and divisive Delta tunnel.

The Delta Counties Coalition (DCC), representing the 5 counties that comprise tens of millions of residents who reside in and across the California Delta, strongly oppose the administration’s inclusion of the Delta Conveyance Undertaking (Delta tunnel) in its infrastructure package deal and unexpectedly contemplating it within the opaque state finances course of.

Courting again to 2009, the Legislature and administration have constantly prevented legislative provisions that facilitate extremely controversial and costly remoted new conveyance within the Delta. This was finished with objective. Altering legal guidelines for the express good thing about this extremely controversial undertaking would decide “winners and losers” between these residing inside and close to the Delta (the losers) and those that search to export extra water (the winners) by means of new diversions within the north Delta.

Weakening environmental requirements for the Delta tunnel can also be opposite to the governor’s management on local weather change, deprived communities and the atmosphere. The Delta tunnel — which might span three counties, price $16+ billion and take 14 years to assemble — would enhance greenhouse gasoline emissions, hurt endangered species on land and in waterways and trigger irreversible hurt to deprived and culturally vital communities.

Because the infrastructure package deal makes its manner by means of the legislature, the Delta Counties Coalition urges legislators and Gov. Newsom to significantly take into account the next revisions:

• The reference to “Delta Conveyance Undertaking” have to be stricken from the “CEQA Judicial Streamlining” part. The Delta tunnel wouldn’t scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions or shield individuals from the worst extremes of local weather change. If constructed, building emissions could be 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and operational emissions could be 260,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per 12 months. As well as, eradicating freshwater flows with new diversions would cut back through-Delta flows, inflicting extra saltwater intrusion and worsening water high quality for native residents, farms and companies.

• Any language that eases the allowing pathway for “Totally Protected Species” needs to be eliminated. The package deal proposes to make main modifications in regulation pertaining to Totally Protected Species. The reclassification of Totally Protected Species would permit treasured wildlife akin to the long-lasting golden eagle, larger sandhill crane, southern sea otter and 34 different birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish to be extra simply harmed or killed by initiatives just like the Delta tunnel. If Totally Protected Species provisions of state regulation are to be modified, these modifications should happen throughout the legislative course of with applicable public and professional enter.

Additionally it is necessary to notice that the $16 billion ratepayer funded price ticket that was estimated a number of years in the past doesn’t account for double-digit inflation that has occurred prior to now 12 months. We all know that with different mega-infrastructure initiatives, unique prices are likely to double or triple. On high of that, a latest report from the California Water Affect Community revealed that the first beneficiary of the Delta Tunnel (Metropolitan Water District) has no plan on the way to pay for the undertaking.

Whereas we agree that local weather change requires the state to maneuver ahead with local weather resilient infrastructure, the Delta tunnel has no place in these discussions. Expediting this contentious undertaking would trigger extreme environmental, ecological, cultural and financial impacts for the Delta with out producing any new water.

We urge the Legislature to actually tackle our local weather objectives with out unexpectedly making main modifications in regulation and due course of to learn highly effective particular curiosity teams on the expense of the California Delta.

Ken Carlson represents District 4 on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. Oscar Villegas is chair of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.

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