Green Room

“What are they afraid of, the fish can’t vote!”

posted at 10:24 pm on May 16, 2009 by

Actor, Comedian, and farmer Paul Rodriguez, once a strong proponent of Democrats, has switched sides. Not over health care, or immigration reform, or even Iraq. He switched sides because of a fish, specifically Hypomesus transpacificus – the Delta Smelt. This tiny fish will cause the ruination of Southern California’s Central Valley area, some of the most fertile land on Earth. It will render thousands of farmers and farm hands unemployed. This fish is in a fight with the farmers, all over water.

The pumps which supply the valley with water from Northern California have been switched off after a judge ruled in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and their report claiming that the pumps are hazardous to this minnow sized fish. Last week, Lester Snow and other California water regulators urged the federal government to reconsider it’s protections for the endangered Smelt. In previous years, the water pumped in has been restricted, this year it has been cut off completely. And without water, there is no farming. What is especially damaging is that farmers have already planted, so without their crops they will be ruined.

Rodriguez helped create the California Latino Water Coalition, has led marches of several thousand people, and spoke to many of the Democrats he helped get elected – so far nothing has worked. On the Mark Levin Show on May 13th, Rodriguez said,

When I called [them] I was told to ‘stick to the jokes’…So now I realize that it was really the Republicans who had my best interests at heart all along.

Unemployment, already high in California, is skyrocketing in the valley. For example, Mendota, a small town in Fresno County, has seen its unemployment rate jump to 35%, high even for a community with a large population of seasonal farm workers. Greater Fresno is above 13.2%. And the impact to California’s $20 Billion agriculture industry is incalculable. Todd Diedrich, and almond grower, has been forced to let two thirds of his 1,500 acre farm go fallow.

What is clear is that environmentalists, along with California lawmakers and the FWS, have teamed up to kill off farming in the 400 mile long valley. When asked about the policy and it’s effects on the farmers and workers Lloyd Carter (a Gerry Brown appointee and environmental activist) said,

They’re not even American citizens for starters, right? Do you think that we should employ illegal aliens? What parent raises their child to become a farm worker? These kids they are the least educated people in America, or in the southwest corner of this valley, they turn to lives of crime, they go on to go on welfare, they get into drug trafficking and they join gangs.

To environmentalists, the farmers are irrelevant. The food supply is irrelevant, the health of California’s agriculture industry is irrelevant. Saving a tiny fish from harm is all that matters, and no compromise will be allowed. It is possible that another solution can be worked out, but in the meantime trees, plants, and animals go thirsty while the workers go hungry.

It is absolutely insane.

Red Dot in a Red State

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So now I realize that it was really the Republicans who had my best interests at heart all along

Better late than never.

KelliD on May 17, 2009 at 8:22 AM

Why is it that it takes the result of Democratic policies to get Democrats to realize that Republicans have their best interest at heart?

I forgot, we are all reich wing extremists.


broker1 on May 17, 2009 at 8:45 AM

A repeat of Klamath Falls, OR about ten years ago. Once again, the needs of a tiny fish trumps the needs of thousands of people.

Whatever happened to “proportional response”?

Ace ODale on May 17, 2009 at 5:25 PM

Once again, the needs of a tiny fish trumps the needs of thousands of people.

Ace ODale on May 17, 2009 at 5:25 PM

Or a tiny owl.

MarkTheGreat on May 18, 2009 at 8:49 AM

Thank you SOOO much for covering this travesty.
The effing Delta Smelt has been making me mad for 10 years. While in college studying water science and how to design canals like the Friant-Kern canal, we took a field trip where we saw the $9 million fish screen upstream of the pumping stations for the canal.

At the time, CA had a budget deficit of $16 million and I thought the screen was a total waste and joke, especially since LIVING Delta Smelt were found 4 pump stations up the canal system, in the canal- they went through 4 sets of impellers and lived!

Screw these fish. They aren’t even a species, they are a sub-species so they can’t be on the Endangered Species List. Furthermore, they live all over the USA, Michigan to Maine, so they ARE NOT threatened. The farmers and workers around Fresno, however, are threatened at this point. All 80,000- as is the MOST high producing farming region IN THE COUNTRY.

Food grows where water flows, people. You can’t expect to have produce from a healthy country when farmers are suddenly allocated only 10% of previous years’ water.

It’s freaking crazy!

NTWR on May 18, 2009 at 3:48 PM