Will a private company get to sell off Californians’ commonwealth of water and destroy the state’s desert environment and tourist economy? This urgent question faces state lawmakers because Cadiz Inc. seeks to pump water from beneath the Morongo Basin and pipe it out to sell for its own profit.
Increasing the threat level to our natural landscape is the fact the Trump administration just placed a longtime lobbyist for Cadiz in the role of Interior secretary. David Bernhardt is a danger to our state and national park lands in the eastern Mojave Desert and the $1-billion tourist economy that depends on them.
I am grateful that state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) takes these dangers seriously. He is one of the principal coauthors of SB 307 to require the Cadiz scheme to undergo a careful review of its environmental threats. Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside), Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) crafted this solid bill along with Portantino.
Thanks to Portantino, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, Californians have a chance to stop Cadiz before its plunder can proceed. I urge activists from both parties to support this legislation. It represents state oversight at its best to counter ruinous private profiteering at its worst. With key protections taken away at the federal level, we need this state legislation now more than ever.
The writer is vice president of the Sierra Club.