Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fact or Fiction?


The Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, d/b/a the Southern Nevada Water Authority, used public money to advertise the agency's deceptive arguments justifying its attempt to defoliate rural Nevada in a full-page ad in Sunday's Review-Journal.

These ads go for about $50K, which might seem like a lot of money but is really peanuts compared to the millions the SNWA spends to prop up its environmentally destructive and myopic policies. Anyhoo, the ad, titled "FACT or fiction?" argues:

“Rural communities, ranchers and wildlife are protected by Nevada water law and federal environmental law. (1) In an effort to reduce our community’s 90 percent dependence on the drought-plagued Colorado River, the SNWA will draw upon unused groundwater supplies within Nevada.(2) The SNWA is proposing to access water that is naturally replenished each year – just as farmers and eastern Nevada residents do.(3) The SNWA will install a system of wells to sustainably manage the withdrawal of available, unused groundwater, and the project will be overseen by federal agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada State Engineer.(4) The bottom line is that the SNWA is committed to responsible groundwater management – and the law demands it.”(5)

To address these points in order: (1) Conservationists have had to sue the federal government to protect species that are on the brink of extinction, and even when facing court orders, the feds are loathe to act when they go up against powerful commercial interests such as the SNWA. (2) By "unused water," the SNWA is relying on Nevada state law that defines the resource as that which is not making people any money. That includes the water that is going to support the trees and plants and critters in rural Nevada, including such unusable resources as the Great Basin National Park. (3) Show me a farmer that wants to take 65 billion gallons out of rural Nevada and Utah annually. (4) Of course, the SNWA will be responsible for the monitoring of the water drawdown. I'm sure we can trust their figures. (5) Complete horseshit.

The fact, er, "FACT" is that the Water Grab depends on taking the water that now goes to support native foliage through "evaporative transpiration." Eliminating that foliage consigns the region to a dust bowl. The SNWA and its corporate clients are counting on being able to fool the public and prevent governmental oversight just long enough to build the pipeline and drain the aquifers - by which time it will be too late to stop them.

For more on the science, see the Las Vegas Sun here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Utah Gov Throws Down the Gauntlet

Apologies, my fellow prisoners, for failing to update this blog as frequently as I'd like. Something about an election has taken up a wee bit of time around the PLAN offices that I call my second home...
Anyhoos, there's still lots happening around the water, Yucca Mountain and alternative energy fronts - and I mean LOTS. Friends of the Earth, PLAN and Sierra Club are working on a coordinated media campaign on Yucca Mountain - details to come.
Faculty at the College of Southern Nevada are working to fund a training program for folks to work with and install clean alternative energy systems in homes and business - the kind of thing that could help fulfill the promise of this state as a leader in renewable energy nationwide.
And Gov. Jon Hunstman of Utah has thrown down the gauntlet on the our friendly local developer's drive (beneath the mask of the SNWA) to defoliate rural Nevada and Utah. Huntsman is braving inclusion on the SNWA enemies list in this recent speech in Utah:

"Now I have told Nevada in no uncertain terms that we are not going to budge an inch in terms of giving up our water to their casinos in Clark County which is exactly what they want it for. I don’t care if there are 10, 200, or 2,000, people living in the West Desert (of Utah); if it in any way impacts their way of life for their viability in the West Desert we want nothing to do with it.
"So we are simply asking for science to determine when it begins to affect these straws that they are pumping on, on the Nevada side of the border, and taking water when does it actually affect our water table?
"We want to know the science; we want to know exactly the implications of what Nevada is doing before we agree to anything. Now I know we are going to be up against tremendous pressure, I feel it coming, I was in Nevada yesterday with Senator Reid speaking at a conference on clean energy. It’s a very real issue.
"Now I haven’t said publicly that we are about ready to commit troops to the Utah Nevada border, but we are coming darn close."

Of course, for years the response from the SNWA has been "science, schmience, slot machines and tract houses make more money than farms, endangered species and people. So get out of the way."
Shout out to Terry Marasco for the feed on Huntsman's talk, btw.

Here's the link to Huntsman's website, with edited comments.