We must all sacrifice for the environment

But I meant you – not me! We’re supposed to be exempt from rules we inflict on others.

“Being “hoisted by his own petard” means the bomb maker gets blown up and lifted sky high by his own explosive device,” writes Paul Driessen. “Former Colorado Department of Natural Resources director Greg Walcher notes that the term applies with delicious irony to the in-your-face, holier-than-thou environmentalists who inhabit and run San Francisco.”

“Determined to save locally endangered salmon populations, they and the State of California have long demanded and imposed water use reductions by Central Valley farmers. But now the California Water Resources Board wants further water use reductions – and this time those reductions will also hit city residences, schools and businesses, and hit them hard: a hefty portion of 98 billion to 220 billion gallons less water per year! Imagine how many baths, showers, laundry and dishwasher loads, and other “essentials” that would mean.”

“But those rules and reductions were supposed to apply only to OTHER people, the once ultra-green urbanites are wailing.”


We must all sacrifice for the environment

But I meant you – not me! We’re supposed to be exempt from rules we inflict on others.

Greg Walcher

Greg Walcher

Have we become a society of people who want to regulate others, but not ourselves? We laugh at those who suddenly object to a policy that seemed perfectly OK when (they thought) it only applied to others.

We make fun of Al Gore demanding that “we” end “our” fossil fuel use, while he travels the world in private jets and SUVs. We chortle about politicians and Hollywood stars advocating gun control while surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards.

In truth, such hypocrisy is common, because the desire to control other people’s behavior is human nature, at least for many. Yet our attempts at control frequently come back to haunt us.

In Hamlet’s most famous speech, he predicted that a would-be assassin might end up being “hoist with his own petard.” A “petard” is a bomb, so Hamlet meant the bomb maker might be blown up (“hoisted” off the ground) by his own explosives.

Today that Shakespearean phrase is a common proverb describing poetic justice, another way of saying “caught in his own trap,” or “what goes around comes around.”

San Francisco officials are once again learning this, as they struggle yet again with water shortages. Several times, endangered species issues have come back to haunt some of the nation’s most unyielding environmental campaigners and their elected officials. (San Francisco is the birthplace and headquarters of the Sierra Club.)

Yet the City has never moderated its in-your-face, holier-than-thou environmentalism. When President Trump announced the U.S. exit from the Paris climate deal, San Francisco announced that it would comply with the intent anyway, by limiting local fossil fuel use.

The City has also banned plastic straws, grocery bags and Styrofoam containers. It even requires solar panels on private buildings. If something is on the environmental industry wish list, San Francisco is leading the way.

But when the same activists insist on leaving more water in the rivers, to protect salmon, they mean water from Central Valley farmers – not their own water. Up to now, state regulators have obliged, and water restrictions have been imposed on farms to the south for 25 years.

Hundreds of billions of gallons of water previously used for irrigation have been flushed to the ocean, rather than sent through the California Aqueduct to the Central Valley, supposedly to protect salmon migration and spawning. Nevertheless, area salmon remain endangered.

So now the California Water Resources Control Board proposes further restrictions, this time including water that is part of San Francisco’s municipal supply.

Public hearings are generating numerous angry responses. That’s hardly surprising, since the plan would double the flow of water in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced Rivers, leaving more water for salmon, but less for the City – a lot less.

In fact, it could mean an annual reduction of 300,000 to 675,000 acre-feet of water for the Bay Area. In everyday household terms, that’s 98 billion to 220 billion gallons per year! Imagine how many baths, showers, laundry and dishwasher loads, lawn waterings and restaurant glasses of water that would mean.

Imagine how many almonds, walnuts, tomatoes, grapes, olives, apricots and peaches, how much cotton and rice, how much milk and cheese would not be produced in the Central Valley, if that much additional water is taken from farmers.

While San Francisco’s water supply has been mired in controversy for a century, today the city has some of the purest water in the nation. That’s because its water comes from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park.

The losing battle against building that dam and reservoir was a defining battle cry of Sierra Club founder John Muir, who vigorously opposed it. The dam was built anyway, and since the 1920s it has delivered Tuolumne River water to San Francisco, and to farms near Modesto.

But San Francisco’s water rights are junior to the agricultural rights, so the City could actually face the largest reductions.

Golden Gate City leaders, their environmentalist allies and normally ultra-green citizens are outraged. They never intended that water reductions they so strongly support would have any effect on themselves.

Meanwhile, a local group called “Restore Hetch Hetchy” advocates tearing down the dam. In 2012 it got an initiative on the local ballot for that very purpose. But San Francisco voters voted it down. They support tearing down other people’s reservoirs, not their own.

The opponents then went to court, and have been there ever since. Ironically, they’re fighting the City itself, which argues that the legality of Hetch Hetchy is “settled,” and that the reservoir’s water supply is now indispensable.

Adding still more to the petard-like irony, the reservoir doesn’t just supply water to 2.7 million residents and businesses in more a dozen Bay Area communities. It also generates significant hydroelectric power, which is vital for a city and state that have vowed to end all electricity generation from nuclear, coal and natural gas facilities.

Suddenly, the once vital salmon somehow seem less important to City leaders.

Their alternative is (predictably) to have the State spend vastly more on “river restoration,” including killing competing fish. But even if that helps the salmon, it won’t satisfy the environmental industry, which still wants more water restrictions.

Perhaps water leaders across the West can be forgiven for thinking, “Welcome to our world,” if San Francisco is being hoist with its own petard. It is a world the Golden Gate City helped create.

Greg Walcher is president of the Natural Resources Group, author of Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back, and a former head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.


7 thoughts on “We must all sacrifice for the environment”

  1. Greg has many years of experience dealing with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and their unsuccessful plans for recovery of T&E fish in the upper Colorado River. He was a breath of fresh at when he served as director of Colo Dept of Natural Resources.

  2. We all know that San Franciscans have some of the snootiest, most ridiculous environmental beliefs in the country—but I quite enjoy the fact that so many homeless now infiltrate their beloved city that you can’t go anywhere without stepping in human faeces, trash, used drug needles, and the like.

    Poetic justice might describe what has happened, but I consider it more the result of not living a humble and thankful life. It’s a beautiful city in a beautiful setting—but I cannot abide by the sheer hypocrisy stridently advocated for by the elites who call it home.

  3. Notice that this horsesh*t is in the same
    key and rhythm of Dope Francis, the last.
    The Dope says we should all live a ” little poorer ”
    for the benefit of all mankind.
    Is the Dope leading by his own good example ?
    Are the AGW alarmist cranks practicing what they preach ?
    The Dope has even sold out the faithful of his own church in China for the temporary preservation of his or his church’s
    wealth there.
    Only the stupid take the advice of the hypocrites.
    Only the stupid believe the GHE, AGW, climate change crap.
    In the USA and other western countries,
    Only the stupid follow and vote for the liberals.

  4. One sad fact of California politics is the persistence of Jerry Brown. He has consistently worked to send water from northern California south to the L.A. basin and adjacent areas. Their problems never has been drought. California historical rainfall data lack any significant trend (most time series data will show a trend, but if the range of the error of the estimation includes a trend of zero, the “trend” in the data is not statistically significant. California HAS NO TREND. We have had some very dry years and some very wet ones, sometimes close together, but there is no statisically significant trend in the historic data. The little trend there is seems to show the present to be somewhat wetter on average, even with one of the driest years on record falling in the period.

    The only “water problem” California has is people. There is simply a limit on how much water can be captured for Southern California swimming pools without demanding that other parts of the state do without.

    The data can be found here:

  5. Reminds me of growing up in So Cal. In addition to the mandatory water restriction device, which the utilities monitored to ensure usage declined in line with it’s implementation.
    I recall many a summer while showering when I was a child in the 70’s [ Jerry was Governor then too] wherein I had to exit said shower with shampoo dripping down my face and burning eyes filled with soap because all that came out of the shower head was the sound of rushing air exiting the pipes, as the water ran out.

    Karma, the environmentalists are reaping what they have sewn without regard for the big picture [cant happen in my bubble].

    This is nothing new…. California is a desert, Palm Springs is an oasis. The Winter snowfall in the Sierras melts providing water in the Summer. Water retention dams and reservoirs store that water for later use.

    This is nothing new.

    If anything I give Jerry credit for trying to bring back and re institute more water retention dams removed by prior governators and environmentalists. I don’t agree with a lot of Jerry’s politics but he is better for California than the governators after/before him. I say this because for all of Jerry’s proclamations you can also go back to the record on Moonbeam’s proclamations of California instituting its own space agency in the 70’s and look to today’s California Private Space Agencies, SpaceX, Amazon, Virgin galactic. He does come up with some visionary policies [sometimes]. Maybe he suffers from being way too early in timing.

    Thank you for reminding me of one of the litany of reasons as to why I no longer reside in California. Beautiful State, fun place to visit, But residing there is filled with many many , oh and’s…. but did we tell you about the …. Earthquakes, Fire ,Flood, Traffic Smog, Regulation, Taxes, Expenses, Fees, Water Shortages, Summer brown outs, and highway “lawns” consisting of green spray painted gravely surfaces….etc, etc, etc,

    The self righteous over regulators ” saving” fish look like they are apoplectic. Shut down the electricity for good and have them walk everywhere. see what happens next. LOL.

  6. i was only ever in california once….

    we were on our way home from deployment in japan in 1961…

    IN 1961!!!!!

    we were not allowed outside the apartment, on account of the pollution index…..

    california had a “pollution index” in 1961………

    kinda says it all, actually……..




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