Which is more endangered? The Delta Smelt, which is a three-inch minnow? Or the California Central Valley farmers and dairymen?
In one of those lengthy but fascinating weekend interview pieces, The Wall Street Journal talks to one of those dairymen, Mark Watte. (It is not behind the pay wall.)
Though the Central Valley produces much of the nation’s produce and dairy products, those farms and ranches are drying up as water is diverted to protect the aforementioned minnows.
Over the past few years the price of water in Central Valley has gone from $40 an acre-foot to $1,300. As a result, many farms lie fallow and the price of groceries climbs.
Over the past two years the government has flushed 400,000 acre-feet of water to test whether salmon, a species not seen in the area since the 1940s, could swim up what is normally a dry river bed. That’s $520 million dollars worth of water pissed into the sea.
After a recent deluge, officials dumped another 95,000 acre-feet to save those minnows. That’s $123 million worth.
That was right after Obama showed up in California to hand out some welfare checks and blame the drought on global warming, which Harry Reid says is mankind’s greatest threat.
If it’s not those minnows, it is bugs.
Watte tells how his water district had to pay an additional $20 million to raise the height of a dam. The $20 million was what it cost to assure that the project was completed prior to elderberry beetle mating season.
Elderberry bushes “are not endangered, but the elderberry beetle that lives in the bushes are,” Watte said. “So we gave the contractor a significant bonus to be done by a certain date because it was the beginning of elderberry beetle breeding season,” and heaven forbid that construction disturb beetles feeling “amorous.”
The House has passed a bill that would suspend provision of the Endangered Species Act to help endangered farmers, but California’s own senators opposed it, so it is going nowhere fast in Harry’s Senate.
In a radio interview recently, Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican represents part of the affected area, said, “It is a complete imbalance between the needs of endangered species like the Delta Smelt and economically endangered species like homo sapiens in California.”
McClintock is pushing that bill lessen the impact of the drought.
“I think the people are going to be awakened to the fact that the lunatic fringe of our society’s been in control of these policies really for the past 30 years now, and they’re absolutely out of their minds. And we’re now living with the result,” he added.
Meanwhile, all of us are paying higher grocery bills to protect minnow.