Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Warren Buffett and the Klamath Dams

Most people would not know how much Warren Buffett affect the economy of California. He is one of the major stockholders in Midwestern Energy Holdings Co. which in turn recently purchased Pacific Power, an electric company that owns and operates four private dams on the Klamath River. They primarily serve the very Northern California and Southern Oregon.

There dams are now the center of a major controversy. Their license to operate these dams is up for renewal (every 50 years) and the US Government has ordered Pacific Power to make major changes in the manner in which these dams are operated.

I bring up this subject because there are many separate issues that come together and they are all political.
  • With the dams blocking the river, salmon have limited access to spawning grounds.
  • Were that not enough, the US Government had cut off much of the Klamath flow in 2002 to provide additional irrigation capability for Klamath basin farms.
  • The result is a shortage of salmon and a curb on commercial salmon fishing this year.
  • Removal of the dams would make a significant difference in the cost of electricity generation for Pacific Power.
  • Alternative to this hydro-electric power may have a high carbon cost.
As I said, it is not simple. The opponent to the dams include Indian Tribes with treaty rights to salmon, fishermen (both sports and commercial), environmentalists, all joined together in a Klamath Basic Coalition.

The only Green I know of who has opened their mouth about this effort is David Cobb. Back in October, he contributed an OpEd column for the Eureka Times-Standard in which he called for the removal of the dams.

We need more outspoken Greens, getting their commentary into the local papers. It is one additional way to build the party and we need not rely on some Media Committee to do it for us because too many media producers consign Green Party press releases to the round file.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do polls tell us where to spend our energy?

  • The GPCA has only a limited amount of energy to expend and that means we can give the highest level of attention only to a limited number of issues. Are public opinion polls of value in determining where that energy is best spent?

The most recent survey from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has released a new study entitled Californians and their Government: January 2007. Given that the aim of the PPIC is to improve public policy in California, this is about as good as any survey will be.

One of the more interesting facts out of this survey is that the number on issue for people in the State of California is "immigration / illegal immigration". I note that the wording of the question (pg. 27) uses exactly that terminology, both the positive "immigration" and the negative "illegal immigration". The question asked the responder to select "which one issue facing California today do you think is the most important for the governor and state legislature to work on in 2007?". The ranking of the responses was:
  • 22% immigration / illegal immigration
  • 18% education / schools
  • 13% health care / health costs
  • 10% other
  • everything else was less than 10%.
The immigration issue has not gone away after the demonstration of 2006 and that is both a challenge and an opportunity for the GPCA. It is our choice. While Greens have been very much involved in some of the immigration demonstrations, it appears to me that we have not followed through with organizational action, a curious lapse when the President of the Mexican American Political Association is a Green. There is an open question as to how we should proceed and I don't hear much discussion. If this is truly the most important issue, we probably should be doing more.

The Tahoe GA approved an update to the platform regarding immigration. A translation of that platform by RocĂ­o Guido-Ferns (09-2006) can be found here. At the very least, we should have this translation available for distribution when tabling.

Monday, January 29, 2007


While most of the media attention given Bush's SOTU speech was focused on Iraq and the position of Nancy Pelosi, environmentalists had their own take, based mainly on the expectation that some had over the possibility of a new position on Auto Emissions and Global Warming. Seed Magazine's Chris Mooney dispels any notion as to whether that happened.

In California, the Governator has staked a position much closer to what environmentalists want. He has championed new emissions standards in his State of the State Speech. In reality, he has assigned the task of defining those standards over to the University of California (Davis and Berkeley) experts.

There is a GPCA Energy email list with 42 members ids, but 15 of those are bouncing. The rate of activity on the list is low. It exists mainly for sharing information, not for providing any organized GPCA action regarding global warming, energy policy or any other related subject. It would appear that there is not enough energy in the GPCA itself for organized activism on more than a couple of issues and energy is not on the list of issues this year (Iraq war, immigration, health care, IRV).

There are a lot of Greens who are taking specific personal action to cut down on their own carbon footprint, but I wonder if that is enough.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ending Racism

The following content originated with Kevin Zeese and has been circulated on a number of Green Party email lists.

If you think we've come a long way on race issues, look at these two
links below and you will think again. Very brief reports, but very

Kiri Davis' film, reviewed in the above link is at

She says a lot in 7:15 minutes. More than many say in a lifetime.

If there is any political party that should be above this, you would think that it would be the Green Party. We pride ourselves as being above all of that. When reading some email's about the Democratic Party, I can almost see the sneer curling the lips of the writer. But still, there is a need to act. There was even a proposal to "end racism, sexism and classism in the GPCA". That anyone would feel the need to do this in the 21st Century is almost incomprehensible.

When I read Hunter Bear's recounting of Arizona life in the 1950's, it jogged my memory. Living through those events as a teen, I sensed that this was a time of change. I guess I was too optimistic.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Personal rights and the commons

We are heading into a time when there are hard decisions to be made about issues of personal right, collective rights and rights held in common. While that distinction may seem to be rather arcane and philosophical to most, what we do about it will help determine whether or not we are successful as a party. It is not without reason that the number one blog site for Greens is called Green Commons.

Let me give two current examples that illustrate what I am talking about. David Cobb most recent OpEd piece in the Eureka, CA Times-Standard talked about a "hate fest" featuring a writer named Holly Swanson. One might easily pass off Swanson as being a professional agitator who is taking advantage of any and all opportunities to enrich herself by railing against Greens, pink-Communists, environmentalists and everyone else who does not listen to right-wing AM Talk Radio. That would be a mistake.

Swanson is currently focusing her rhetoric on Greens.
The concept of sustainability, the idea of leaving the world a better place, is not the issue. The problem is that public support for the general concept of sustainability is being used to impose the Green’s political agenda. A prime example of this is Education for Sustainability. This program, although presented as non-partisan, reflects the goals of the international Green parties. - from her web home page.
Swanson is a very visible spokesperson for the wise use movement in the West. Along with Chuck Cushman of the American Land Rights Association, she puts a public face on a set of principles that many would like to see die out. They are both part of the wise use movement and represent a philosophy that anything you do on or with your own property is OK. The idea that there is any part of nature that we own in common, such as fresh water or the air we breathe, is a total anathema to the them.

The questions regarding water in California are also going to demand that we address the idea of what we own in common. The basic law of water in the West is one of prior use. If you have had the right to use the water, that right can not be taken away from you. Now, it is recognized that fresh, drinkable water is not infinitely available and various interests are lining up to get their share before someone else does. However, even as I write the, we have to understand that water is over allocated now. That was recognized in the last century (1999).

To take this back to Humboldt County, where I started, nowhere is this playing out more obviously than in the Klamath River basin. Demands on the water for farm irrigation have crossed paths with demands for the water to sustain fish populations. The last time, farmers prospered and not, we subsidize the fishing industry. Private Dams control the flow of water, generate electricity and profits for the 2nd richest man in the US, Warren Buffett. Greens should be involved just to support the rights of indigenous people. We should be involved because the only viable solutions are those which are sustainable, no matter what Holly Swanson might say.

That issue of what we own in common is in the middle of the Delta fight as well. The battle will go on between Southern California Developers, Local (Delta) developers and Central Valley agriculture. Of particular interest is the fact the the increase in water exports from the delta results in increasing salinity, especially in the West Delta where the pumps headed South are located. The Stockton Record (Jan. 25, 2007) had an informative article on the salinity problem. One sentiment posted in response was that we should ...
Warn SoCal that in ten years water from the delta will no longer be exported to them. Let 'em build desalinators along the coast and pay several hundred dollars per month for household water. That's what those living in the desert southland should expect to pay for water!

Greens have an opportunity to make a difference in this fight. We just have to figure out whether it is important enough to devote our energy to it. Right now, we are not a player and I see no evidence that we are going to be. Yet, this is to California's future what the Iraq War in to America's future.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Redwoods Forever

This is a reminder for all of you who thanks Julia Hill for here participation in the South Central Farm fight. Even when you win, you might lose. It would have appeared that Julia had a victory of sorts out of her historic tree living experience. If you thought so, you did not consider the real character of Charles Hurwitz and just how far he will go to to make $$ from our natural legacy.

The Pacific Lumber Co. has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing the environmental restrictions on their logging as the reason that they can not pay the service on their debt. They are asking the courts to set aside those restrictions so that they can harvest more trees without restriction and stay in business.

The courts should allow Pacific Lumber to fold. Maybe, with Hurwitz stripped of ownership as the recent changes in Congress has stripped him of his legislative protections (De Lay and Pombo, unfortunately not Doolittle... yet) there is a chance for a rational solution to this confrontation of ideals. Hurwitz still holds on to a 19th Century vision of the relationship between man and nature. He is a taker, not a creator.

California Greens, in particular those of the Emerald Region, have an opportunity to take a stand for the environment, for the recognition that there are things we own in common (the air, fresh water) and against the rapacious greed of corporate raiders like Hurwitz and his Maxxam gragging and holding company.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Week in review

There is a lot going on this week that hits right at what should be the major targets of GP efforts.

Ongoing protest of Iraq War: I got this in my email yesterday. While it talks of a media event with Ciny Sheehan this morning, the protest at Representative Matsui's office is onling and has been for a couple of weeks. BTW. Matsui is another of those "not really against the war Democrats... rather like Howard Berman, whose LA County district is so close to Leftywood that I wonder how he continues to win re-election. I guess that the thought of electing a Green was too scary.
Please join Cindy Sheehan tomorrow, Monday, January 22, 2007, 9:30 am at the Federal Building, 501 I St, Sacramento. Cindy will support those asking Rep. Doris Matsui to publicly commit to voting against any more funding for the occupation of Iraq.

With $70 billion already approved, there is ample to bring the troops and bases home now! The peace-in will continue inside Doris Matsui's office from 8:30 am - 5 pm every day this week and until Matsui agrees to make a serious commitment to bringing our troops home by stopping further funding for the occupation. Bring ID to go through security check, no cameras. Stay a few minutes, few hours, or all day!

For more information, contact:; 916-448-7157

Washington decides on Global Warming: Bush is dumb (pun intended) on the subject.

It appears that American Industry will support anything that gives them another way to manipulate the system to make more money. When it comes to fighting global warming, an op-ed in today's Washington Post indicates that Congress has already defined the solution to be a cap-and-trade policy. Just consider that the authorization bill is co-sponsored by Barack Obama and John McCain. It is also the same policy that Ahnuld wants for California. I wonder what inventive way Bush will find to ignore this issue in his SOTU speech tomorrow night.

Meanwhile in California, we continue to build more highways to empower more suburban developers. There was a time when Greens railed against sprawl. Now, in the latest version of our platform, the word hardly appears, though the concept of "ecological footprint" implies the opposite. Still, it is not a subject that appears with any frequency on GP email lists that I track.

It appears that in both Washington and Sacramento, cap-and-trade is in and greens are out. The national Green Party had a good response to this issue, aimed at DiFi too.

So, it is a time for action, on more issues than we can possibly have tiem for. Still, as I heard one teen volunteer say during an interview recently, "If not now, when? If now me, who?"

Sunday, January 21, 2007

First among Firsts

The entry of New Mexico Governor Richardson into the presidential race gives the Democrats a chance to choose the first among firsts.

Hillary Clinton
would be the first woman president.
Barack Obama would be the first African-American president.
Bill Richardson, despite his anglo name, would be the first Hispanic president.

There is a Green Party challenge in this, with special emphasis on identity politics.

To begin with, each of these candidates will have an obvious arguement that a vote for them is a vote for their identiy constituency. In many cases, these are the same voters that we would want to reach out to in the Green Party. We would be offering them ideas and ideals, policies that make sense. But a vote for Clinton, Obama or Richardson offers them a chance for power.

If you bring this back to California, where the issues raised by these constituencies have turned California into a very blue state we will be engaged in a fight for our political lives. These are are unusual times and they require unusual actions.

Besides the commonality of representing a frist, these three campaigns were similar in that they made their official announcements on the internet, reaching out to the netroots of the party. Beginning with Howard Deans campaign, the Democrats have learned how to do this very well. The Republicans have learned how to use the internet in other ways, being very skillful at using what they know about you to microtarget the messages you receive. All of that is stored in The Vault.

Every one of the Democratic initiatives is backed up with large amounts of cash, enough to pay for flashy, professional web sites. The Green Party depends on volunteers to keep things going. Most of the work on the GPCA web site is handled by one person when they are not attending to their day job or to family life. Similarly, the entire GPCA IT Committee is in the same position, doing the best that they can in the time that they can afford to give.

The challenges for the GPCA are very specific and how we meet them will determine if we have a future.

  • Do we allow identity politics to cut us off from constituencies who need Green Solutions to real problems?
  • Do we make a real effort to develop an effective netroots strategy, or allow the Democrats to claim that as their own special province? At least Vibes Watch has returned and is taking on LA area Green Issues.
  • We have been most successful in terms of number in urban areas: LA and the San Francisco Bay Area. Do we continue to build there or do we reach out to the faster growing ares of the Inland Empire and Central Valley to grow our base?
I don't think we have a lot of time to spend making those decisions. Will the current focus on developing a Standing General Assembly get us there, or is that going to be a distraction? I would tend to believe the latter, since all of the energy spent on internal machinations only sucks that energy away from effective action in reaching out to the rest of the world.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Green Party Presidential Goals

We know that the media is all abuzz about the Democratic / Republican presidential ambitions of a wide range of folk. It easy fodder for Jay Leno who quipped that Hillary had to return early from Iraq because of a big problem at home.... Obama.

In the middle of this, there a bit of discussion going on about the 2008 GP nomination. It generally takes one of several well known paths.

Many people believe the the GP has no leadership with national name recognition and any charisma at all. So, they are constantly looking elsewhere for a candidate to support. Two name keep coming up: some want to forget the GP and support Ohio Rep. Kucinich. Other want to recruit Cynthia McKinney into the Green Party as a true candidate.

There are still some Greens who lack the name recognition, but who would like to use the race as a platform for their ideals. I've heard that Kent Mesplay is considering another attempt but would need to find a way to better fund his campaign than he has had in the past where lack of an organized staff has hurt his chances.

As for 2004 candidate, David Cobb, there are enough comments left on this blog to understand that he faces strong opposition from some in his own county. That fact, coupled with the emotional baggage we all have faced since the 2004 campaign would indicate that another attempt from Cobb is probably not a good idea. It would surely find people taking sides based on whether or not they originally supported either Nader / Camejo in 2004.

The final take is that we should focus on building the parties at the state / local level and just forget about a national race in 2008. I am not sure that this is a good idea either. The rationale for a national race is that the right candidate can bring many people into the Green Party.

We always have the arguement about "self-selected elitists" whose ego drives this. Well, let me name a few "self-selected elitists" who are busy right now: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, Rudy Giulianni, Sam Brownbeck, John Edwards, etc. To actually participate at this level, you must be willing to make a lot of sacrifices: work, family, time. You have to want to do it. So, that complaint does not carry much weight.

As for the GPCA, there are 7 seats available to us on the national Presidential Campaign Support Commimttee and only 5 of them are filled: Forrest Hill, Larry Cafiero, Susan King, Starlene Rankin, Jared Lahti. So, I will guess that we will have most of our say, even though I am not sure that we will get all of the votes we need on that committee.

Friday, January 19, 2007

When is the next GA?

The GPCA governance process leaves me shaking my head at times. To give a good example, the Coordinating Committee (CC) voted on Dec. 4, to hold the next General Assembly in San Francisco. No date was set, that being somewhat up to the local San Francisco Greens to find the appropriate date / venue and announce it.

At the same time, there was a meeting in San Mateo to consider the requirements for a "Standing General Assembly" that would allow decision making to take place without the need for a face-to-face GA. There are a number of things that, according to the bylaws, can only be decided by a GA.

What I found amusing was the criticism of the Media Committee for chosing to put information about the SGA meeting on the Green Party California web site while not putting information about the San Francisco GA there.

Now, I can think of a fewpractical reasons this happened.
  1. There was an identified venue for the SGA meeting; not yet for the GA itself.
  2. There was an actual date for the SGA meeting; not yet for the GA itself.
  3. The CC has made no official announcement of the GA, maybe because of points 1 and 2 above.
Some people do find petty ways to try and score political points.

Monday, January 15, 2007


This is just a bundle of things that made me stop and think a bit, I hope that they do the same for you.

The first is Gregg Jocoy's commentary about what we Greens should do because the Democrats now in power will disappoint. It is from his York County (SC) Magazine Column republished on his blog. The Democrats won, so What Now?

Then, I note that April 14, 2007 is a Climate Change Day of Action, sponsored by From their map, I note California events in Benecia, Mill Valley, San Mateo/Burlingame/San Francisco (sponsor not sure which one yet). Do you have energy to do something? Stepitup2007 is lead by Bill McKibben.

I almost fell asleep with the Chris Matthews show on Sunday Night. But, two topics were so scarry that they kept me awake. One was the way that Hillary is positioning herself to the center of everyone while Obama, Edwards, Biden, et. al. pose to the left. She may soon fall in with the Lieberman crowd base on the way that she reacted to the Bush speech by sending out press releases... from Iraq, of course.

That does not bother me as much as hearing Dan Rather speculate on the way that Bush is now escalating the rhetoric against Iraq. He was suggesting that what is planned is a joint US / Israel preemptive strike. Now, that is really scarry. I can think of no single act that would radicalize more new jihadists in the Middle East.

I have a new suggestion on Iraq and its nuclear ambitions. The US should announce that it will not support any Middle Eastern Country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. No signature, no aid. Even handed, and that includes Israel.

One last comment on the weather. It has been cold in Santa Clara County and we probably lost most of our citrus fruit. But, for those who say this is or is not an effct of Global Warming, maybe we should wait for Chris Mooney to finish his blog reports from San Antonio, where the American Meterological Sociey is holding its annual meeting, where there is a special series of talks on "Climate Change Manifested by Changes in Weather".

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. Gradually, the people of this nation have moved King from the position of being a slain leader into that of an icon, safely enshrouded in legend, admiration, a man whose very speeches are quoted, memorized even and repeated on the National Holiday that we have set in his honor.

Why then, was it still necessary in 2006 for the Green Party of California, to have a proposal to "end racisim" within the GPCA? It is something that I fail to comprehend. Yet, maybe by making a symbol out of the persona of King, we have gotten to the point that we no longer feel the need to deal with that which King spent most of his life fighting, a racism that is so deeply engrained in the human experience that eradication is a daily struggle.

My first experience of racism came as a high school student in the Flagstaff, AZ fo 1954. We had moved from a very small (< 300) town in rural Illinois to the much larger Flagstaff just as I moved from elementary scholl to high school. That was the year of Brown vs. Board of Education decision and the closing of Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School, It was also the end of the time in which Dunbar's achievement meant much of anything around there. The principal of Dunbar Elementary School was Wilson Riles, later to become State Superintendent of Public Instruction here in California and whose son is an influential Oakland political figure and now a member of the Green Party.

The one thing that sticks in my mind now was the fact that the closing of Dunbar School only reinforced the pecking order of racial identiy that existed in Flagstaff at that time.

It is human to try and attain that which is denied to us. For the homeless, it may be the home. For the powerless, the goal becomes power and power is defined in our society by politics. The Green Party is not now seen as a pathway to power for the powerless. King's path to power was in the streets at a time when there was no other way. Now, with merely tacit recognition by the dominant political parties, the paths to power may seem to be dead ends.

What then, would pull the powerless to the Green Party?

Friday, January 12, 2007

2 year plans

Various Green Party Working Groups are putting together their 2 year plans and budget requests right now. I am involved with 2 working groups: Grassroots Organizing and Green Issues.

The mission of the Grassroots Organizing Working Group. (GROW) is...
To facilitate coordination and communication between local Green Party organizers and groups; and to provide resources for collaboration, skill sharing, and training in order to promote the strategic growth and diversity of the Green Party of California.
Given the two views of what we need to win elections that were posted by Patrick and Peter to the Elections 2008 thread, what should GROW be doing to help us achieve our goals. It seems to me that there is a lot of energy to organize protest around hot, in the new, right now issues but little energy to do the long range, back office, step by step, often thankless work of organizing to build the party and win elections.

Maybe, before commenting, readers could check the GROW activity by following the link above. Has GROW been doing the right thing all along?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What are the doing now?

It is rather an interesting exercise to see what some of our statewide race candidates are doing now.

We hear the Peter Camejo is undergoing treatment for cancer and wish him well. A press release went out from the Camejo Group and was repeated on Green Party CA lists.

Since the election I have heard next to nothing from Senate Candidate Todd Chretien. I have had email contact with Kent Mesplay. Tian Harter is in another category all together. He continues his involvement in local politics and his ever present photo montages. He has just put up another Contribution at AOL.

Forrest Hill is stil talking about elecdtoral reform as befits a candidate for Secretary of State. As an example of non-partisanship, I have referred the Revolt of the Elders Committee to Hill's perscription for electoral reform in California.

For those who are not familiar with them, the Revolt of the Elders is a group of mostly Republican leaders from government and the Congress in the 1970's who have decided to try and restore politics to the sense of public purpose and ethical behavior on which they based their own service. The leaders of the Elders are Pete McCloskey (Rep. from the last 1960's to the early 1980's) and Lew Butler, at one time the Undersecretary of Health Education and Welfare in the Nixon Administration.

The Revolt of the Elders Committee was a key factor in the defeat of Richard Pombo and plans to continue to target others in Congress who have failed their constituents while growing their bank accounts.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Election 2008

In case anyone needs a reminder, election 2008 has begun. If there is any single defeat that stung the Republicans, it was having Richard Pombo tossed unceremoniously onto the ash heap of history. In fact, the Republican National Committee has already started the counter-attack.

I have not seen the text, but here is what was reported on the votepomboout email list last night.

And we received our first "hit piece" since the election attacking
McNerney for "rewarding illegal aliens." At least it didn't mention
Pombo ("paid for by the National Republican Congressional
Committee") but I worry after the comment in a Vorderbrueggen
article several weeks ago saying Guy Houston waiting for Pombo to
decide about a rematch before Houston considered running in the 11th
when he terms out in 2008.

Did this flyer to go everyone in the district or just registered
My guess is that it was just registered Republicans, since I did not get a copy and I know that the person posting to that list is, even though they worked to dump Pombo like the rest of us.

The question I have for Greens: who is already planning for 2008?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Border Wars

If whiskey is for drinkin' and water for fighting over (Mark Twain) then immigration is not the ony border issue that we have with Mexico.
While baking my own version of a power bar (recipe posted on demand) last night I was tuned in to the California Connected on PBS station KQED, San Francisco. Last night, they covered the situation with the New River, flowing from Mexico into the US near Calexico. I will not go into the details...
but will call attention to two relevant issues.
  1. When this segment was originally shown in June, 2006, it was 109 in the desert. The river was so polluted that it had as much as 16 million bacteria / virus count when 260 is considered so polluted as to be hazardous to your health.
  2. The Metropolitan Water District is looking at the New River as a future source of drinking water for LA.
Since that segment was filmed, the Calexico New River Community and it's supporters have had some effect. The City of Mexicali has brought a sewage treatment plant online. You can read about that in the segment update that accompanies the video at California Connected. Right now, the major effort is to raise $800,000 to help fund an Environmental Impact Report so that they can begin the total cleanup.

If the Metropolitan Water District really has plans to tap the New River as a source of drinking water, I suggest that they should put up the $800,000. Further, I would hope that LA County Greens would demand such action and give the entire question a public airing. Do the Citizens of LA really want to be drinking this?

Finally, to show that the New River is NOT a New Problem, I would quote the following from the highly ineffective International Boundary and Water Commission.

New River Border Sanitation Problem and Solution

On August 26, 1980 the IBWC submitted to, and the two Governments subsequently approved Minute No. 264, "Recommendations for Solution of the New River Border Sanitation Problem at Calexico, California-Mexicali, Baja California." Under this agreement Mexico is taking steps to provide an interim solution to the problem of the discharge of sanitary and industrial waste waters from the Mexican City into New River which flows north across the boundary. The recommended goal for a permanent solution is the elimination of sanitary and industrial wastes in the waters of New River crossing the boundary.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Excermental Gains

For some reason, I keep coming back to Los Angeles as being a source of environmental problems. In the past, I had limited this to consideration of LA's determination to continue growth at any cost and the inevitable thirst for water that this creates. LA has a long and dubious history of draining other regions dry in an effort to slake that thirst.

Now, rather than creating a problem with it's imports, Los Angeles is being challenged over it's exports, 26 times a day, 26 tons of sewage treatment plant sludge trucked to the Central Valley to go on fields to raise hay that is exported to Japan.

The title of this post is stolen from a Matt Jenkins article in High Country News. (subscription required). LA gets a purified water and the farmers of Kern County get ????. That is the problem. It is everyting that goes down the drain somewhere.

The problems are a regulatory mess. Once again you have the question of whether local jurisdictions (Kern County) can regulate what is imported to go on their land, or do less restrictive state and local regulations take precedent.

On Nov. 20, U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess ordered Kern County to lift its ban, saying it conflicts with the waste management act. He has forwarded the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to send it to the California Supreme Court.

Regardless of what happens in court, the situation’s not going away. A Kern County victory will probably just divert the sludge to farms elsewhere, such as Arizona, at an increased cost to taxpayers. After all, whether one county wants it or not, sludge happens.

The environmental implications involved in this legal discussion are everywhere. In 2006, the Democratic controlled California State Legislature was working on a bill that would have stopped local jurisdictions from attempting to control the use of GMO's in local agriculture. Earlier in 2006, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would have overridden state measure like California's Proposition 65 that enforced strict labeling laws on food products.

Greens need look no further to find an issue that meshes well with the ten key values. The Kern County voters solidly supported a ban on importing sludge by a margin of 85% - 15%. It was that ban which the Federal Judge overturned.