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Weird News Dump | Main | Saturday Gardening Thread: Critter Week [KT]
March 10, 2018

Thread before the Gardening Thread: California Water and Train Report [KT]

Serving your mid-day open thread needs


Kern River

Happy Saturday! Hope you don't mind me going local with a few government-related absurdities today. Feel free to reciprocate with your own local examples in the comments.

Last night, I got a survey call from an outfit that was clearly designing propaganda for a new 4 billion dollar water/parks ballot initiative. The questions I got about "trust" irritated me. Why should it matter to my evaluation of this proposition if I "trust" Jerry Brown, the NAACP, firefighters, local business owners or "scientists"?

And why should water storage projects have to compete with city parks?

Well, I guess it should matter if I trust Jerry Brown. His government is not keeping good faith with voters who passed Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond, of which only 2.7 billion was apparently set aside for water storage.

And what kind of water storage do they propose? The theft of water from the Kings River basin for certain landowners in Kern County. The aquifers in the Kings River basin are awfully low. A lot of wells went dry during the drought. See the link under the photo. Here is a possibly related feature story on the biggest farmer in the United States, in Kern County, who may already be able to keep his citrus, nuts and pomegranates going with water intended for other farmers in Tulare County. Hmmmm. Interesting story in any case.

I have heard tell of some other farmers in Kern County who don't seem as favored. But maybe the Powers that Be think that the Kings River Basin is not going to need water in the future because of High Speed Rail. That, along with the San Joaquin River Basin, is where construction is starting. Bureaucrats are blocking the building of reservoirs with money from Proposition 1, including one at Temperance Flats northeast of Fresno.

But just yesterday, there was an announcement of further cost over-runs to HSR, with an estimated final cost of over 77 billion dollars. And the project is even further behind schedule:

The rail authority's previous business plan made the case that it had just enough money in hand to build an initial operating system that could carry passengers and generate revenues, which would potentially attract private investors to help finance completion of the system. The new business plan implicitly makes clear that higher costs and uncertain funding leave it short of that critical goal.

The rail authority has wrestled with a more than $40-billion funding gap for the full system, which would increase further under the new cost estimates. It is still counting on the Legislature to amend the state's greenhouse gas auction system so that the system could borrow against future fees through 2050, but even with that benefit the project faces a financial shortfall that only partnerships with the federal government and private investors could plug, said rail authority chief executive Brian Kelly.

Sound like a good deal to you? Have they figured in the environmental court challenges in richer neighborhoods yet?

The biggest immediate driver of the cost increase has been in the Central Valley, where the rail authority is building 119 miles of track between Wasco and Madera.

Wasco to Madera! Flat. Farmland. Just wait for the REAL drivers of cost increases. Mountain tunnels. Really high-powered environmental attorneys. And more!

"Initially a rathole, now a sinkhole, soon it will be an abyss in which more and more tax dollars are forever lost. I speak of the never-ending scam called High Speed Rail," said Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford).

Hope you have a nice, relatively government-free weekend. Got anything planned?

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posted by Open Blogger at 11:10 AM

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