Some media statements are so ripe with contradictions they’re laughable. Sadly, people believe them, along with the false premises and outright lies contained within.
Recently a gaggle of activist groups announced changes in their legal complaint against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and California rice growers because “salmon are on the brink of extinction” due to greedy corporate farmers (my words based on their premise).
The statement from the National Resource Defense Council and Earth Justice claims that less than 2 percent of the water flowing through the California Delta region was dedicated to protect fish and wildlife this year.
They obviously failed math since 100 percent of the water used by the USBR and state agencies this summer had fish protection as its sole-stated purpose. But hey, who needs truth when hyperbole plays much better on the nightly news and in legislative hearings?
The statement ignores the 50-40-10 pie cuts that show, according to state figures, how half of the state’s allotted water normally goes for environmental purposes, 40 percent to agriculture and 10 percent to cities.
Except this year the 10 percent portion of the pie was cut by 25 percent and the 40 percent piece was curtailed. Does that mean that upwards of 90 percent of the state’s water this year simply flowed out the Delta and past the Golden Gate Bridge?
The news release even sheds a few tears over the weakening of salmon fisheries, as if recreational fishing is somehow better than growing food to feed school children (two can play that game).
The other ridiculous assertion states “we have the ability to create enough water for all of the cities and farms in our state.”
Who’s this “we” kemosabe? It’s difficult to do this when lawsuits force all available water downstream to ostensibly help the fish and when farm groups propose building new dams, activists sue to stop the projects.
The statement goes on to suggest agriculture invest in “modern, efficient irrigation technology, rather than flooding fields during a drought.”
Why didn't we think of that? It’s not as if agriculture is keeping its widespread adoption of water-thrifty technology a secret. These groups simply choose to ignore the truth, twist what they can with impunity and outright lie about the rest in press releases, legal filings and in open court.
Then there’s the outright lie in the press release that rice farmers flooded their fields “several feet deep in the drought.” Five inches is hardly “several feet,” even in common core math, but who’s counting?
According to Tim Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the California Rice Commission, rice plantings were reduced 25 percent this year because of a lack of irrigation water.
I learned this summer because I asked, and a farmer drove me around and showed me, how irrigation water for rice is mostly returned to the environment after it is used to grow rice for human consumption.
As we stood on the banks of the Sacramento River large pumps pushed water from rice checks back into the Sacramento River as the dry-down period began ahead of rice harvest. Aside from the water used to grow the rice and the little that percolated into the aquifers or evaporated under a hot, Sacramento Valley sun, much of the water used to grow this rice is actually “borrowed” from the environment before being returned to it.
It’s growing increasingly difficult not to liken the activities of those around the world that use bombs, guns and knives to elicit fear in their enemies with the tactics used by activists whose weapons of choice are lawsuits and lawyers.