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The New York Times Must Ignore History to Place Blame on California’s Woes

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Adam Nagourney, writing in the New York Times over the weekend, penned this piece looking at the history of Calfornia’s father-son governors, Pat Brown and Jerry Brown. He used the California drought to cast the story of Jerry Brown, now the governor, having to clean up the messes caused in part by his father.

Pat Brown was California’s governor during the boom time of the sixties. He encouraged development in California and threw a statewide party as California became the most populous state. Nagourney would have you believe that Pat Brown’s development incentives and desires to settle southern California have put the state in the mess it is in. But while Nagourney mentions Pat Brown’s water project as a cause for so many people and too much development, he writes out of history key details to make Pat Brown’s son Jerry some sort of protagonist dealing with his father’s antagonistic legacy.

As Victor Davis Hanson notes, it was not Pat Brown’s water project that caused the problem, but environmentalists’ destruction of his project that caused the problem. Had California gone through with Pat Brown’s vision, it would have significant reservoirs and channels able to both hold and capture water.

Instead, dams were destroyed, reservoirs were cancelled, water was channeled into rivers to flow out to sea, along with other assorted blunders of radical environmentalism. And, history objectively shows, Jerry Brown was one of those environmentalists that championed the causes of destroying his father’s legacy.

Nagourney completely and, no doubt, willfully ignores that.

Here is Nagourney on the water project:

If Pat Brown wanted the stunningly ambitious California State Water Project that he muscled into law to “be a monument to me,” as he later said of what was the most expensive public works project in the state’s history, Jerry Brown championed the modest if intellectually provocative “Small Is Beautiful” viewpoint espoused by the economist E. F. Schumacher, which emphasized the dangers of depleting natural resources. (Mr. Brown flew to London to speak at Schumacher’s funeral in 1977.) As governor, Jerry Brown spoke of limits and respect for the fragility of the planet from the moment he took office.

Now, here is Victor Davis Hanson:

Just as California’s freeways were designed to grow to meet increased traffic, the state’s vast water projects were engineered to expand with the population. Many assumed that the state would finish planned additions to the California State Water Project and its ancillaries. But in the 1960s and early 1970s, no one anticipated that the then-nascent environmental movement would one day go to court to stop most new dam construction, including the 14,000-acre Sites Reservoir on the Sacramento River near Maxwell; the Los Banos Grandes facility, along a section of the California Aqueduct in Merced County; and the Temperance Flat Reservoir, above Millerton Lake north of Fresno. Had the gigantic Klamath River diversion project not likewise been canceled in the 1970s, the resulting Aw Paw reservoir would have been the state’s largest man-made reservoir. At two-thirds the size of Lake Mead, it might have stored 15 million acre-feet of water, enough to supply San Francisco for 30 years. California’s water-storage capacity would be nearly double what it is today had these plans come to fruition. It was just as difficult to imagine that environmentalists would try to divert contracted irrigation and municipal water from already-established reservoirs. Yet they did just that, and subsequently moved to freeze California’s water-storage resources at 1970s capacities.

The radical environmentalist policies of the seventies have caused California to dry out completely. Sure, the drought is terrible, but they could have had reserves of water on hand. Jerry Brown helped destroy those reserves. But Adam Nagourney and the New York Times ignore that history.

The post The New York Times Must Ignore History to Place Blame on California’s Woes appeared first on RedState.


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