Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Drought stokes California's class war

Joel Kotkin in CityWatch:  As all the Californians who celebrated the deluge of rain that fell the week before last know, it did not do much to ameliorate the state’s deep drought. We are likely to enter our traditionally dry spring, summer and fall in a crisis likely to exacerbate the ever greater estrangement between the state’s squabbling regions and classes.

There are two prevailing views about how to deal with the drought. Farming interests in the Central Valley want the state to fund construction of additional water storage capacity so that the 700,000 acres of some of world’s richest farmland now fallowed by steep water cutbacks can be put back into production.

The predominant view embraced by the media and ruling political class identifies the drought as yet another manifestation of relentless global warming, which means the focus should be on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Greens balk at the idea of massive new spending on water storage for the agriculture sector, the state’s biggest water user, advocating instead for more conservation. New dams and reservoirs would have high environmental impacts, they argue, and their benefits may not justify the costs.

Yet many believe more storage is precisely what the state needs, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and the state Assembly’s Democratic leadership, under pressure from Republicans and Central Valley Democrats, recently added $1 billion in funding for water storage projects to a draft water bond proposal.

The southern part of the state, which tends to be drier than the north, has managed to avoid the worst of the drought by investing in its own storage facilities, something the more green-oriented north largely has avoided. ...

Interstate 205 crosses two aqueducts in California, shot by Ikluft, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

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