Why the Green Party Opposes Proposition 1

from the Green Party of Alameda County Voter Guide:

"Water Bond: Funding for Water Quality, Supply, Treatment, and Storage Projects," the last-minute Proposition 1, is a smaller version of “The Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010.” In this case smaller is better. However, we still oppose this measure.

As Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California, said in a Sacramento Bee article on August 19, 2014, "The new bond, like the one it replaced, is written to enable extraordinarily expensive dams that will provide negligible benefit to the public, won't resolve our water supply problems and will irreparably damage the environment. It was written this way because the Legislature's Republicans and San Joaquin Valley Democrats threatened to withhold votes needed to get the bond bill passed unless they got money for the dams."

When the old larger water bond passed the Legislature on November 4, 2009, and then-Governor Schwarzenegger signed it a few days later, it was considered an “urgency statute” which would take effect immediately if the voters passed it in November 2010. It was not as urgent as its supporters pretended. That Water Bond was removed from the 2010 ballot because the economic downturn made it likely to lose. The same Water Bond was pulled from the November 2012 ballot because Governor Brown?s priority was to pass a tax increase, and voters were considered unlikely to pass both. Voters have gradually come to understand that bond issues, which may pass during boom times, burden the state with interest payments in difficult economic periods. And the current proposal to issue $7.1 billion in water bonds will cost about double that amount in repayments, to be paid out of general tax revenues.

Although "Storage Projects" is the last part of the title, making it sound trivial, that is misleading. "Dams and groundwater storage" is the largest part of the proposed expenditures, at $2.7 billion of this $7.1 billion proposal. Readers of "Cadillac Desert: the American West and its Disappearing Water," by Marc Reisner, published in 1986, will understand that any water projects being considered at this point have a long history. But even a little history is helpful.

The last-minute decision to place this measure on November's ballot means that some of the organizations who have the most thorough analysis have not had time to re-examine this version. So we looked at what, for example, the Pacific Institute said when they looked at the larger version in 2010. They compared the proposed bonds to earlier bonds and found an important difference. Large water projects of the past, such as the State Water Project in 1960, provided that almost all the repayment funds would come from those who used the water (including the agribusinesses of the San Joaquin Valley). But the current proposed bond will have repayments coming from the General Fund.

Many Californians are concerned about whether this water bond will help Governor Brown get his "enormous tunnels" project built, the project he doesn't want to bring before the voters. In an article in Daily Kos (8/14/14), Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta Executive Director, disagreed [with Governor Brown] that the bond is "tunnels neutral." She responded to the passage of the bill by stating, "The passage of a water bond with BDCP funds for flows is unfortunate."

"Instead of focusing on making California's water use more efficient, fixing our aging and leaking water system and cleaning up our groundwater, Proposition 1 instead focuses on building more dams, at a cost of $2.7 billion dollars plus interest. These dams will only increase California's water supply by 1% and won't be usable for decades." This begins the "Rebuttal to Argument in Favor" from the Official Supplemental Voter Information Guide" still in its 20-day Public Display Period as of this writing. [Aug. 23- Sept. 12] Opponents of Proposition 1 include Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro, Chair, Natural Resources Committee; Adam Scow, California Director, Food & Water Watch; Zeke Grader, Executive Director, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations; Conner Everts, Executive Director, Southern California Watershed Alliance; and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta. Please join us in voting NO on Proposition 1.