The Central Valley and the Delta Smelt

Friday’s broadcast from Fresno was very different from the ordinary remote because so many of the guests were suffering personally from the federal government’s decision to drastically reduce water deliveries to california’s Central Valley in the name of protecting the Delta smelt. Because I have practiced endangered species and natural resource law for two decades, I am used to the absurd consequences brought about by the variety of laws that operate in this area, especially the federal Endangered Species Act, but human suffering on this scale as a result of the laws is unprecedented. All of it is unnecessary. It could be stopped almost immediately. When President Obama next tals about his concern for the unemployed, keep in mind that he has it in his power to put tens of thousands of farm workers and those who depend upon their paychecks –like the people who sell them food, clothing, cars etc– back to work but refuses to do so. The “jobs summit” should begin with a declation by the president that the pumps will be turned back on and stay on. If he refuses to act in this case, why should anyone believe that he cares about the employment numbers at all? My question: Do you think the president will do anything to get the water flowing again? Anything at all?


  1. Eugenia Slater says

    No, I don’t think so. Why would he? He hasn’t listened to the American people’s call to reject Obamacare. In fact, didn’t he denigrate our voice as “chatter”? If the environmental radicals in California have ignored the cries of suffering humans at the expense of a fish, I don’t see how their ESA-sympathizer-in-chief would hear them either.

    I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but nothing coming out of this White House leads me to believe otherwise.

  2. Eugenia Slater says

    Oops. Not at the expense of the fish but the farmers.
    Hey, can we add a timed editing feature for these posts? :)

  3. Reinier Heyden says

    We need to organize and make our voices heard. If you eat food anywhere in this country, this affects you! My lettuce, olives, almonds, avocados, and broccoli that I eat almost every single day all are produced by these people in our own country. This crosses party lines and it should be pretty easy to rally support. A crisis with families standing in food lines, scenes of wastelands and the dust-bowl speak volumes. The media is sleeping at the wheel–no surprise–as peoples’ livelihoods are snatched away from them by a judge-ordered drought.

    Obama, Boxer, and the rest cannot ignore us forever. Whether this translates in political change–or better–immediate aid by simply flipping a switch. Immediate jobs without a penny spent!

  4. Steve Forrest says

    Obama will lose ground politically with his left leaning base, so we can count on him doing nothing.

    This job summit will be just a big shiny object for the MSM to be mesmerized. The only way for the economy to turn around is for private business to start hiring. Private business won’t do this anytime soon because of the economic instability caused by the climbing deficit and his administration’s wild grab for power via healthcare, government motors, etc.

    Can any of you imagine last year ago this time that the government would own GM & Chrysler, the deficit would be skyrocketing and Obamacare would make Hillarycare look appealing???

  5. Hugh Hewitt says

    All very true, but I don’t know that the rest of the country knows much about the man made drought. Where, for example, is the Latino Caucus on this? The vast majority of people thrown out of work by this are farmworkers who are second and third generation Latino-Americans.

  6. Reggie Gates says

    meanwhile, the environmentalists decided to get tough – see article below.

    “Two environmental groups sued the federal government Friday seeking greater habitat protections for two San Francisco Bay-delta fish species, one of them the delta smelt, a small but important creature in California’s water wars.”

    It looks somewhat like Obama’s approach to instituting the liberal agenda – overwhelm Congress with liberal program after liberal program (cap and tax, health care, immigration reform, Stimulus II, etc.) in the expectation that they all can’t be stopped.

  7. Nick Stuart says

    No, Obama won’t do a thing.

    I wonder, as I go past the produce aisle and contemplate the prices which I am sure are higher than they would otherwise be due to this issue specifically and “environmentalism” generally, and as I check out and regard the sales tax…

    I wonder what the politicians and environmentalists think of being cursed tens of thousands of times a day because of the effects their policies have on consumers and taxpayers.

    Apre nous le deluge? Let them eat arugula?

  8. Nick Stuart says

    And those Latinos who have been thrown out of work. Who did they vote for? Who are they going to vote for in 2010?

  9. Nick Stuart says

    Actually, Obama is about as likely to do something to alleviate the drought as the RNC, RNCC, or RNSC are likely to make this an issue in 2010.

  10. adam smith says

    Did any of you listen to the segment on Friday. As Hugh said repeatedly THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL, NOT A REPUBLICAN-DEMOCRAT issue. I think it is about magic fairy dust or something

  11. William Douglass says

    This is a 100% political situation, and the GOP should be absolutely pounding the Democrats and enivronmentalists on this. Strong opposition to the EPA, Cap and Trade and the alleged green economy is an absolute winner with unemployment at over 10%.

  12. Rick Franklin says

    Based on what was said on the show Friday, it sounds to me like the best hope for getting the pumps turned back on lies with the lawsuits that have been filed by Pacific Legal Foundation and others. I see no chance the president will choose jobs over environmental extremism.

  13. Lee Wright says

    Still, this kind of local interest program was not so irritating when I listened for free but it’s a different story when I’m paying for it out of my pocket. No matter how much they try to make it into a national interest story I’m not buying that. Maybe an hour’s worth would have been sufficient but 3 WHOLE HOURS? Gimme a break. Sorry that my first comment on Hughniverse is so negative but I am not happy to have to pay for this kind of program.

    • Duane Patterson says

      seemed like a natural fit to program a show like this, hugh being an endangered species attorney, and this issue being topical in the news on several different levels, and showing a remarkably bad application of endangered species law. as to the extent of your complaint, you didn’t have to pay for that show. you paid for access to the hughniverse, which if you’ve toured around, comprises of several different areas. the show that day was free over the air. if the podcast that day was not your cup of tea, there were writings by lileks on different subjects, I had links to different things being hashed around, plus you have the ability to do what you just did – engage with hugh and/or I and have a reasonable dialogue about it, without trolls invading with profanity-laced invective. There was an update to the California water story in Monday’s show as well, but as you’ll hear, there was much more attention to the KSM trial and other newsworthy issues. The show will always basically be news driven, but subject to revision based upon Hugh’s interests, because that’s what makes talk radio work – it’s personality driven. That being said, we hope your experience in the Hughniverse will be a net positive over the course of a month or year or decade.

      • Lee Wright says

        Overall, yes, I enjoy Hugh’s program immensly. Were that not so I would not have subscribed. But the program, which I cannot listen to live over the radio for free, is pretty much the whole and only reason that I did subscribe. All the other things in the Hughniverse are incidental as far as I am concerned.

        I unerstand that what is on the program is Hugh’s choice and that is what makes the program what it is and what I like. Still, if I sit back silently when there is something I don’t like how will you know what your audience is really thinking? Over time that may result in more and more things being presented that I don’t like and, in the end, I stop listening (not likely, I know). Please do not be insulted by my comment. It was not meant that way. My expression of distaste is the only way that you can know. If all you want to hear is praise then how are you different from Obama and his cronies?

        Besides, I look forward to the 15th hour each Friday and was very disappointed when there was no movie show!

        • ted trepanier says

          Lee, I don’t like the 15th hour so how does a talk show host keep everyone happy? I also don’t like Hugh taking time off- I want him to work on the show everday. Vacations? Bah humbug.

          I have chosen to like the show and listen to all of it. I love the vacations he takes because we get to listen to Duane dabble periodically, and quite well. And, I never would have heard of guy benson, a real up-and-comer host, Jim Geraghty of the aptly named “The Indispensable, the late and great Dean Barnett, the master of combacks- James Lileks. Carol Platt Liebeau ain’t too bad either.

          This is the only show I would have considered subscribing to.

        • Duane Patterson says

          no insult taken. again, part of what i love about the hughniverse is a free-flow of ideas and opinions without the nastiness trolls provide on the free sites. my response back to you was merely to show that we do read input, whether good or bad, and tried to explain why we do the things we do sometimes. and by the way, i always miss the movie hour when we don’t do it. it’s as much fun for us to do it as it is to listen to.

    • Rick Franklin says

      Lee, I think it’s more than just a local issue when the Central Valley produces enough of the nation’s food that this issue is impacting food prices beyond California. And the job losses there are representative of how unintended consequences can arise from well-intentioned legislation. And that is a major concern with Obamacare.

      • Lee Wright says

        Yeah, but three consecutive hours? If it was good for you, swell – I was bored by the thrid hour and ready for the movies. Different strokes for different folks – enjoy the fish.

  14. John Sobieski says


    I just finished the first 2 hours of Friday’s show. This issue truly highlights the risk to all of our liberty from an overarching Federal government. I still do not comprehend how this is not an illegal taking under the 5th amendment. If I recall the argument against applying the 5th amendment is that it would cost too much if the Government had to pay for impact these types of “Quality of Life” laws. I think that that is the point. In any event we need to fight this and all of the other excesses that our revision of the Interstate commerce clause and the bill of rights has unleashed. I will be attending a rally here in Seattle on Thur in support of the Central Valley farmers (

    Keep up the good work.

  15. ted trepanier says

    People v. Fish

    The fish win everytime. I blame my lung problems today on the EPA stopping the firefighters from putting out a tire fire in Everett in the mid to late 80s because the water was getting into the river- and at a time there were no fish spawning. And this was even before the salmon became endangered.

    So, despite saying public health would be okay, I endured about a week of smoldering tire pollution waft through my house about 2 or 3 miles away. I was waking up with stomach aches it was so bad.

    So, People v. Fish- the fish win everytime.

    It reminds me of a time I was meeting the local Fisheries guy on a project where he was threatening my client a $10,000 a day fine and time in jail if my client didn’t do what he asked. What did I do? I called the regulatory agency- Department of Ecology- and reported ourselves and asked for help because we thought we were doing good.

    Later on in the same conversation and after the heat died down, the Fisheries guy was demanding a large buffer from the ‘stream’ (in this case this water was across a flat clay field that didn’t have the soils that we call ‘wetlands’ today. He demanded the buffers and he demanded restoring the “stream” for future fish runs. He had his folks come out and they said okay, but Mr. Fisheries guy, how are the fish going to jump up this 30 foot high bank that is natural. In other words, Mr. Fisheries was asking fish to “boldly go where no fish has gone before”.

    Okay, back to the buffers, Mr. Fish wanted 50 feet and as we were talking he liked 100 feet, then 200 feet, then 300 feet and quite frankly, he said he didn’t want people to develop.

    People vs. Fish- The Fish win each time.

  16. Brian Erickson says

    in a perverse way, some environmentalists are happy that people are suffering and more are scared it could happen to them. They will try to use this to convince people of the importance of conservation, and most of all emissions reduction. After all this is all due to global warming, right?

  17. Patrick Ahearn says

    Sarah Palin would be well-served to move her interviews to the Central Valley. She is in need of an issue, and this is exactly the type of advocacy that would move her past talk of last year’s election and into the future. She is the only person who could instantly elevate this issue into a national conversation.

    • Eugenia Slater says

      I think you just found the place where Sarah can “get away from it all”; she can vacation in the Central Valley. The cynic in me says the media would continue to avoid this story even if it meant not having another chance to beat up Sarah. They have bigger fish to fry — pardon the pun — and they’re going to keep hush for the sake of any wacko environmental cause.

  18. Max says

    What do you make of this post that I just saw on FlashReport regarding Meg Whitman’s donations to the Environmental Defense Fund specifically to save Delta smelt?

  19. Jody Steel says

    This is a “then they came for me” issue. There are plenty of reasons it should get more notice, but that’s the main one.

    What business are you in? What happens when they come for your industry? What industry can be considered ‘safe’ now from disastrous government intervention?

    A list of arenas the gov. has catastrophically dabbled in would be too long for one post. If it doesn’t include your area yet, just wait.