On Thursday night Jon Stewart's The Daily Show on the Comedy Channel aired a segment about the selenium-poisoning of Idaho rivers by the J.R. Simplot mining and agribusiness goliath. The EPA was blistered for endorsing a report by the Simplot company which wants to increase selenium limits in creeks and streams that receive mining wastes, even though it's already causing two-headed trout and other fish deformities. Unmentioned in the Daily Show segment was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which released a scathing review of the flawed Simplot report, mentioned favorably in a New York Times story, but refused to let its top selenium scientist speak to the Daily Show. You can watch the Daily Show segment here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-june-14-2012/a-simple-plot READ MORE »
60:09 minutes (13.77 MB)
Lloyd's May 2012 Radio Show
In an Initial Decision announced Monday, May 21, Federal Trade Commission Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell upheld a Federal Trade Commission complaint, and ruled that POM Wonderful LLC, its sister corporation Roll Global LLC, and principals Stewart Resnick, Lynda Resnick, and Matthew Tupper violated federal law by making deceptive claims in some advertisements that their POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements (POM products) would treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. READ MORE »
By Lloyd G. Carter
If there are unwritten charter memberships in the Hydraulic Brotherhood, the Westlands Water District and the Denver, Colorado law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck undoubtedly have honored places. It's not just that Westlands, a public agency, owns a $31 million world class trout fishing resort, which it makes available to its growers at $4,200 to $7,000 a week. It's more the fact that Westlands, the largest (in acres not farmers) and most politically connected federal irrigation district in America, and Brownstein, one of the largest and most politically connected water law/lobbying firms in the nation, are partnering in Westlands' billion dollar lawsuit against the government
And that bodes ill for the American taxpayers and the environment.READ MORE »
In my nearly 30 years covering pollution issues at National Wildlife Refuges, I have come across several courageous field level employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and a few cowards in management positions, managers who are afraid of politicians, polluters, and their own shadows. A good example is the debacle at the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in the early 1980s, where toxic selenium-tainted agricultural waste water from the Westlands Water District polluted the food chain in evaporation ponds at the Merced County "refuge," a supposed haven for migratory ducks and birds, triggering deformities and reproductive failure. There were heroes like biologist Felix Smith - who leaked the Kesterson findings to Fresno Bee reporter Deborah Blum, and there were cowards in the Portland regional office who participated in a cover-up to delay release of the Kesterson findings. READ MORE »
Remember how selenium ravaged the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in Central California nearly 30 years ago? Selenium is a trace element that is a micronutrient but can also be lethal at slightly higher doses than needed for nutritional necessity. It is widespread in the soils of the western San Joaquin Valley but is liberated from the soil by irrigation, which acts as a solvent. Farm drainage water containing poisonous levels of selenium was funnelled to evaporation ponds at Kesterson three decades ago and quickly bio-concentrated as it moved up the food chain, nearly wiping out the Refuge's bird population and triggering grotesque deformities in bird embryos. Now UC Davis researchers think they found a link between declines in bee populations and selenium. You can read about it here: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/chain-reaction-toxic-soil-kills-bees-threatens-food-production-20120416-1x2we.html. Or read the actual report here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0034137. READ MORE »
By Lloyd G. Carter
Editor’s note: Part one of this series addresses the merits of Westlands Water District’s breach of contract claim in the U.S. Claims Court in Washington, D.C. Part Two addresses the Denver law firm hired to represent Westlands and its far flung political connections.
In the wake of the public relations debacle over the brief hiring of former federal judge Oliver Wanger, the Westlands Water District has now hired a high-powered Denver, Colorado law firm with close ties to Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar and political tentacles reaching to the highest levels of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Westlands, on January 6, 2012, quietly filed a complaint in the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, D.C. claiming the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation breached its 1963 contract with Westlands by failing for decades to build a drainage system to carry away Westlands’ toxic waste waters to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There was no Westlands press release on the Court of Claims suit and no mainstream media picked up the story for almost a month. READ MORE »
Go to this website to see a video on whether or not Westlands will sell water to urban interests instead of using it for farming:
Development in Floodplain Would Devastate Wildlife Habitat, Hurt Cultural Resources
LOS ANGELES— A coalition of five public-interest groups today sued Los Angeles County in Superior Court over its approval of permits for the first phase of the sprawling Newhall Ranch development — one of the largest single residential development projects ever contemplated in California — which is proposed for 12,000 acres along the Santa Clara River in northwest L.A. County. Newhall Ranch would create a city of more than 60,000 on a six-mile stretch of the river that is currently rugged open space and farmland by channeling the county’s last mostly free-flowing river.
The construction approved by the county on Feb. 23 would require filling of the Santa Clara River’s floodplain on a large scale; channelizing over three miles of river and converting many tributary streams to concrete-lined channels; unearth and desecrate American Indian burial sites, sacred places and cultural natural resources such as the California condor; and threaten the San Fernando Valley spineflower — a species found in only one other location on the planet.
Westlands Water District Deputy General Manager Jason Peltier recently told a state senate committee the mammoth federal water district will not be reselling irrigation water to urban interests and that the water district’s growers were not “profiteers.” Questions have been raised because the bond rating agency Fitch recently reported that Westlands could “potentially” sell off some of its water supply, if necessary to pay off $50 million in bonds that Westlands and some adjacent water districts took out. Click on "1 attachment" below.