American Council of Engineering Companies Applauds Brown's Tunnel
by Dan Bacher
In a real news "shocker," the American Council of Engineering Companies, California (ACEC California) on July 25 commended Governor Jerry Brown for announcing his plan to build twin peripheral tunnels around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
In a statement, the group claimed "The Governor’s plan focuses on major improvements to the Sacramento and San Joaquin river delta, which is widely regarded as the hub of California’s water supply."
“The Governor has today laid out a thoughtful and considered plan that balances California’s economic water needs with fish stock protection, water quality improvements and wetlands restoration,” said Paul Meyer, executive director of ACEC California. “The Governor’s proposal will not only confer once it is complete immense long-term economic and environmental benefits on California, in addition during its design and construction phase this major project will create thousands of quality jobs during a difficult economic time,” he added.
“This is exactly the kind of large scale engineering challenge in which California engineering, surveying and environmental consulting firms excel, and our members look forward to the opportunity to help make the Governor’s vision a reality,” Meyer said.
Delta advocates disagree strongly with ACEC California's rosy assessment of Brown's peripheral tunnel plan. They point out that members of this group stand to make huge profits from designing and engineering the facilities from one of the largest proposed public works projects in California history, all designed to benefit corporate agribusiness interests including the Westlands Water District and billionaire grower and water privateer Stewart Resnick of Paramount Farms.
"You can’t restore an estuary hemorrhaging from pollution and lack of flow by stealing more fresh water from it," said Bill Jennnings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. "That’s a death sentence for the Delta."
Adapting the words of Winston Churchill to the current battle on the Delta, Jennings said, “We will fight this abominable scheme through the administrative halls, through the courtrooms and the ballot box. We will fight on the channels and sloughs and on the levees and through the fields. And if necessary, we’ll fight them to the very gates of hell. We shall never surrender and we will prevail and when this darkness dissipates, future generations will look back upon us and call this our finest hour.”
The involvement of engineering and construction companies in promoting the peripheral tunnel's construction is well-known. Bechtel Foundation, along with the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, has funded a series of studies by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) advocating the construction of "improved conveyance" - the peripheral canal or tunnel. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/01/18714516.php