Westlands

Drainage Deal Imminent?

A tentative agreement is near in secret talks between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation,the U.S. Justice Department and the Westlands Water District to settle three long-simmering drainage lawsuits, according to Interior Department sources. The settlement could be a bonanza for Westlands, which has been searching for half a century for a solution on how to safely dispose of farm drainwater containing salts, heavy metals and the trace element selenium. Westlands drainage triggered deformities in birds at evaporation ponds at the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in Merced County more than 30 years ago. According to one source, Westlands will only have to retire a minimum amount of selenium-tainted soils even though a safe drainage solution has not been achieved. A current Reclamation plan to reduce or eliminate toxic drainwater will cost an estimated $2.7 billion for Westlands' 600 growers. Geologists say more than 300,000 acres of land in Westlands and adjacent water districts (state and federal) have elevated levels of selenium, a trace element highly toxic to birds and fish. Environmentalists have called for a cessation of farming on these tainted soils.  READ MORE »

Federal Judge gives Westlands and Reclamation six more months to pursue settlement talks on drainage problem

Federal Judge Lawrence O’Neill in Fresno has signed an order allowing the Westlands Water District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation another 6 months to pursue settlement talks without any further implementation of the 2007 Record of Decision regarding Westlands' long-standing farm drainage water problem.

The key final paragraph of O'Neill's order reads as follows:  READ MORE »

Native Americans protest Westlands Water District water grab

 By Lloyd G. Carter

               Around 100 Yurok and Hoopa Indians living near the Trinity River in Northern California protested Wednesday (Aug. 21) outside a federal courtroom in Fresno where federal judge Lawrence O'Neill must decide whether to risk a repeat of a massive 2002 fish kill on the Klamath River.

               Following a complaint filed by the gigantic Westlands Water District, O'Neill  issued a temporary restraining order blocking a Department of Interior plan to use Trinity River water stored behind dams to help salmon reach their spawning grounds without being infected by a fatal parasite called Ich, which wiped out at least 34,000 salmon on the Klamath River.  The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (both Interior Department agencies) announced Aug. 5  they would use up to 109,000 acre-feet of stored water to reduce the risk of an Ich outbreak similar to that which happened in September of 2011.  Releases of cold water were set to begin Aug. 13

 READ MORE »

Sally Jewell takes over at Department of Interior

  Editor's Note:  Sally Jewell was sworn in last Friday (April 12, 2013) as the 51st Secretary of Interior.  Let us hope she turns her attention to California water matters, particularly the Bay-Delta estuary and the never-ending selenium/agricultural drainage pollution that now spews into the lower San Joaquin River.  What follows is the unedited news release of Jewell's new job:
 
Sally Jewell Gets to Work as Secretary of the Interior 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Assuming her responsibilities as the 51st Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell is spending her first full day in the office meeting some of the Department's more than 70,000 employees. She also began to hold meetings on important issues before the Department, including energy development, conservation, Indian Affairs and youth engagement.

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Westlands' $20,000-a-month lawyer/lobbyist runs into new troubles

 

By Lloyd G. Carter

               Nearly a year ago  I blogged on this website about the Westlands Water District hiring Washington powerhouse lawyer/lobbyist Norman Brownstein, dubbed the "101st Senator" by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.  That two-part article was titled "How the West(lands) Was Won."  Just use the website search engine with the keyword "Brownstein" to find it.

              That series detailed the rise of the Denver, Colo. law firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck, a major lobbying firm in Colorado and Washington, D.C., as well as a powerhouse law firm with branch offices in several states, including California.

 READ MORE »

REPEATING Budgets, Billionaires, Bonds, Big Profits and the Brown Family – Parts One and Two

Editor's Note:  This two-part series first ran on this website in August of 2011.  It is being repeated by request.  READ MORE »

Patricia Schifferle responds to selenium polluters on San Joaquin River

Patricia Schifferle responds to selenium polluters on San Joaquin River.

SEC issues final judgment in an insider trading scam involving the son of a prominent attorney for Westlands

On May 5, I blogged about the powerful Denver, Colorado law firm Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck with long-time ties to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. You can read that story  at

http://www.lloydgcarter.com/content/120509560_how-westlands-was-won-part-two.

The same firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck was hired by the Westlands Water District to pursue a billion dollar claim in the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, D.C. over failure by the U.S. Bureau of

Reclamation to complete a drainage system for Westlands.  Lead partner Norman Brownstein, a prominent Washington lobbyist has been embarrassed recently by his two adult sons who have become involved in shenanigans

or outright violation of criminal laws.   Brownstein's younger son, Drew "Bo" Brownstein, was involved in an inside trader scam and pled guilty, resulting in a prison term.  Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission

issued the following news release:

 

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

 

Litigation Release No. 22404 / June 28, 2012

 

SEC v. H. Clayton Peterson et al., 11 Civ. 5448 (S.D.N.Y.) (RPP)

   READ MORE »

Westlands acreage up sharply in 2011 but the state claims Mendota unemployment is also up to a record 42.3 percent. Say what?

Remember the great Westlands Water District protest in the year of 2009 when the western Fresno County farm town of Mendota, with its alleged 40 percent unemployment rate, was made the poster child for the Westlands cry for more water?  Well, now comes word that Westlands planted acreage in 2011, a very good water year, was up 139,000 acres, the highest in a decade.  What was the Mendota unemployment this year, according to the California Empoloyment Development Department?  A record 42.3 percent. Dr. Jeffrey Michael, Director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific, says the Mendota EDD unmployment numbers are just as inaccurate  now as they were in 2009 and Mendota employment is actually around 25 percent this year and was at 30 percent in 2009. Why isn't the mainstream media covering this?  To learn more, check out Dr. Michael's blog HERE.

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