CAGW Names California Gov. Jerry Brown February Porker of the Month

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named California Governor Jerry Brown its February Porker of the Month for wasting state funds on a multi-billion dollar boondoggle as his state languishes from a historic drought.

The debate over Gov. Brown’s $15 billion “WaterFix” Twin Tunnels project is intensifying ahead of the start of hearings before the California State Water Resources Control Board on April 7.  The proposal would build two tunnels 150 feet underground to divert water from the northern side of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  The plan would continue to divert fresh water away from farms and communities statewide who have suffered through a nearly five-year-old drought.  The supposed purpose of the project, as well as the reasoning for the continued diversion, is to address a longstanding issue in California: a three-inch fish known as the delta smelt.

The smelt has been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1993.  California has a cornucopia of state statutes that has expanded these protections and led to the smelt being listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act in 2010.  WaterFix is designed to prevent the smelt from being sucked into the existing system and, in theory, provide drought relief to some southern California farming communities.  WaterFix’s primary hitch is that it must be constructed inside the constraints of years of state policies that favored the smelt over farmers.  “The overarching problem creating the water shortages are the layers and layers of laws like these and for the last few years it has been easy for the government to blame the drought,” said Westlands Water’s Johnny Amaral.  California Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-09) echoed those sentiments: “The only thing clear is that the tunnels are a repackaging of old ideas that waste billions of dollars and threaten the way of life for an entire region without creating a single new drop of water.”

Worse yet, a 2015 state study determined that the smelt may have already passed the point of extinction due to the drought.  Only six fish were found in the waters last year. 

The project’s $15 billion estimate has also come under scrutiny.  Even environmental groups such as the California Water Impact Network predict that the tab could reach $67 billion.  And as costs spiral, California taxpayers will pay much higher water bills.

CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “We knew waste when we smelt it.  Gov. Brown’s ridiculous crusade on behalf of a tiny fish has exacerbated California’s worst drought in a century.  His multi-billion dollar proposal doubles down on already flawed and burdensome state policies.”

For his continued efforts to favor the smelt over the needs of California’s drought-stricken populace, CAGW names Gov. Jerry Brown its February Porker of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.

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