Big oil, Big AG exempt from water restrictions ??

Almond farms alone consume 10% of the state’s water, or as much as the entire city of Los Angeles.

by John Lawrence - May 12, 2015

Governor Jerry Brown is leading the nation and perhaps even the world in his efforts to do something about climate change and global warming which is causing epic drought conditions in California.

He has mandated that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to 40 percent below 1990 levels over the next 15 years. Brown called this the most aggressive benchmark enacted by a government in North America. All well and good.

In addition to getting more electric cars on the road and making power plants get their energy from renewable sources, Brown has also addressed California’s water crisis. With the Sierra snowpack virtually nonexistent, California is having to get creative about where it gets its water supply.

“With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached — for this generation and generations to come,” Mr. Brown said. These efforts come as this state has been struggling with a drought that Mr. Brown has said is, at least in part, exacerbated by global warming.

With Green House Gasses (GHGs) reaching the benchmark level of 400 ppm for the entire month of March 2015 for the first time in world history, actions to reduce those levels to a sustainable 350 ppm have been lagging behind. Meanwhile, severe weather such as the recent extreme floods in Chile and Australia, daily tornado watches in the US and the early advent of hurricane season are pounding into our consciousness the extreme seriousness of the global warming threat.

But the Governor, formerly known as Governor Moonbeam, has done little to refrain Big Oil and Big Ag from using most of the water in the state. The large population of California only uses 10% of the total water; agriculture uses 41%, with the rest diverted for environmental causes and captured by the state’s dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, and other infrastructure.

Agriculture accounts for roughly 80 percent of human-related water consumption in the state. Much of that comes from large-scale farms in California pumping billions of gallons a year of fresh groundwater to keep producing thirsty crops and animal products for supermarkets across the country—a “case study in the unwise use of natural resources,” the New York Times wrote last month.

Meanwhile, cities and water agencies will be required to implement 4 to 36 percent cutbacks, depending on the area. San Francisco must reduce its usage by 8 percent, Los Angeles by 16 percent, San Jose by 20 percent, and Sacramento by 28 percent. Failure to meet those targets could result in fines against water agencies of up to $10,000 a day. State legal advisers will review the rules before they are implemented.

AlmondsThe idiocy of this policy is that water intensive crops like almonds and rice are grown in the middle of what amounts to a desert instead of in vast areas of the nation which are literally saturated with water.

At 1.1 trillion gallons per year, almond farms alone consume 10% of the state’s water, or as much as the entire city of Los Angeles. With agriculture pumping huge amounts of groundwater which is not being replenished, the question naturally arises when will this water run out and what will farmers do then?

California’s oil and gas industry uses more than 2 million gallons of fresh water a day to produce oil through fracking, acidizing, and steam injections, according to environmental estimates. In 2014, California oil producers used up nearly 70 million gallons of water on fracking alone, state officials told Reuters on Thursday.

While that number is lower than projected, fracking and toxic injection wells must not be given “a continuing license to break the law and poison our water,” Zack Malitz, an organizer with environmental group Credo, told Reuters.

“Fracking and toxic injection wells may not be the largest uses of water in California,” he added, “but they are undoubtedly some of the stupidest.”

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