Brown Hires Bruce Babbitt As New Point Man For Delta Tunnels

Bruce Babbit hired by Jerry Brown


By Dan Bacher | 

Governor Jerry Brown has enlisted Bruce Babbitt, the former Secretary of Interior under the Clinton administration and former Governor of Arizona, to serve as a “special advisor” to the Brown administration on California WaterFix and other Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta matters.

The hiring of Babbitt was first revealed in an opinion piece by Sacramento Bee Editor Dan Morain published on July 14 entitled, “Brown calls on Bruce Babbitt, as time runs short for water fix.” (www.sacbee.com/...)

The California Natural Resources Agency did not publicly announce Mr. Babbitt's hire, which is very curious for the appointment of such a prominent former federal official.

“We were asked about it by the Sacramento Bee,” said Nancy Vogel, deputy secretary for communications at the California Natural Resources Agency and former reporter for the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times.

“Mr. Babbitt has deep experience addressing complex natural resource issues and his counsel will be helpful as we work to resolve long-standing water supply and ecological challenges in the Delta - and balance human and environmental needs,” Vogel said. “Mr. Babbitt will be paid with state funds through the Department of Water Resources and will be working in both Washington, D.C. and California.”

His salary is approximately $10,000 a month, approximately $120,000 per year, according to Vogel.

“The DWR fund used to pay Mr. Babbitt's salary includes several sources of funds. The largest share comes from payments made to DWR from State Water Project contractors,” Vogel said.

Babbitt will be pushing for the completion of Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels, a Brown “legacy” project opposed by a coalition of recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Indian Tribes, family farmers, Delta residents, environmental justice advocates and many elected officials.

“We cannot sit on dead center,” Babbitt told Morain in an interview. “We must find a solution that meets all of the co-equal goals. So here I am.”

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD), responded to the news of Babbit’s hiring by stating, “The former Interior Secretary has a long and illustrious career and is respected.”

“However, we are concerned that in the work he is doing on behalf of the California Department of Water Resources for Jerry Brown, we have yet another environmental leader clinging to the big water infrastructure projects of the past like the Delta Tunnels that will not solve the challenges posed by a megadrought and climate change.”

Bob Wright, senior counsel of Friends of the River, told Ellen Knickmeyer of the Associated Press that environmental group leaders want to meet with Babbitt to discuss alternatives to the Delta Tunnels.

The Environmental Water Caucus has submitted to state officials “A Sustainable Water Plan for California in May 2014 as a reasonable alternative to the Water Tunnels, but the Brown administration refuses to look at this or other proposals.. The plan can be viewed here








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