The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

California Shasta Dam:
Politicians in the Service of Big Capital

Oct 14, 2019

California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed SB 1, a California Senate bill, which his fellow Democrats said would protect the state’s federally controlled lands against the Trump Administration’s weakening of environmental requirements.

Newsom’s excuse was quite lame. He said he vetoed the bill because water districts in California’s Central Valley threatened that, if SB 1 passed, they would pull out of ongoing talks with environmental groups about water standards.

Those water districts opposed SB 1 on behalf of big agricultural companies in the Central Valley, which had been lobbying for raising the Shasta Dam’s water level. That way the dam, which is operated by the federal government, would send much more irrigation water to the Central Valley—and less water to the farmers and salmon growers in coastal water districts. In fact, the federal government’s own scientists said that a higher Shasta would endanger plant and animal life in the area, and could seriously harm the salmon industry on the West Coast.

In other words, Newsom has sided with Central Valley capitalists in this dispute. So has the Trump Administration, which has already started the process of increasing the water volume in the Shasta Dam.

It doesn’t take much detective work to see through the Trump Administration’s motives in this controversy. Trump’s current Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, was both an attorney and a lobbyist for the Westlands water district, the largest water district in the Central Valley, until late 2016—shortly before he got a position in the Trump administration, that is. And Westlands, created and controlled by some of California’s wealthiest farmers, has consistently spent big for lobbying the federal government for a steady flow of irrigation water.

Newsom and Trump—and the Democratic and Republican Parties behind them—may fight each other on some issues. But they are in complete agreement on one thing: to use their positions to help Big Capital amass more profit.