Seldom is there a finer piece of verbal legerdemain of bait-and-switch than the opinion posted by Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez (“How can renewable energy help save the Salton Sea,” Desert Sun, June 16) when Pérez ties the need for new geothermal generation into the effort to “also help to save the Salton Sea.”
Perhaps he tries to make this connection because the expression, “Saving The Sea” is the charm bracelet for California politicians. All one has to do is say they are saving or restoring the sea and like magic the masses will sleep better at night.
I don’t confine this criticism to Mr. Pérez for it also includes names like Brian Nestande, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, John Benoit, Raul Ruiz and the host of previous politicians like Mary Bono and Sonny Bono making this same claim for decades. There is no plan to restore the Salton Sea. It’s all political gobbledygook. They don’t mean restoration. They mean mitigation. They mean, “We’re going to spend taxpayer money to attempt to reduce the negative effects while the sea slowly dies through evaporation.”
Frankly, this isn’t very much different than the oncologist telling his terminal cancer patient, “You’re going to die, but we’ll make you as comfortable as possible by feeding you morphine to ease the pain while you do.”
Another Desert Sun article on June 15 — “Lawmakers OK budget with $40M for the Salton Sea” — goes on to say “more than $40 million will be earmarked for the Salton Sea restoration.” What the article should have more correctly said was “$40 million will be earmarked for the purchase of morphine to ease the pain of the dying sea, because true restoration is not on the books.”
It doesn’t take a degree from grade school to understand that the plan is to let the sea die. To genuinely restore the sea, an equal or greater amount of water needs to be imported than is lost through evaporation. There are only two reliable permanent sources of water to restore the sea. One is a pipeline to the Sea of Cortez. The other is a pipeline to the Pacific Ocean.
There are absolutely no other long-term viable sources of restoration water given our future environment of oscillating between drought and deluge. Dwindling surface supplies must be allocated for human consumption and agriculture.
Yet we hear not a word from any politician about plans to import sufficient water to heal the shrinking brine bathtub at the Salton Sea. All we ever hear are plans for this or that project, all conveniently hidden behind the bogus “restoration.” You may verify that there are no restoration plans by asking either Messrs. Nestande, Pérez, Ruiz or Benoit where the water for restoration is going to come from and when. If they suggest any source of water other than ocean water, it is a fabrication.
As of 2017, with water rights being shifted to San Diego from farm areas around the Salton Sea, the shoreline shrinkage is predicted to range between 4 and 6 feet per year. The sea will be shrinking at an accelerating rate, and yet only small amounts of money will be shoveled toward more studies to contain little puddles from what used to be our largest inland body of water. And politicians will continue making phony noises about restoration.
The small state of Nevada is spending close to $1 billion to build a pipeline 600 feet beneath Lake Mead to connect with the Colorado River in order to sustain the growth of Las Vegas. This project is considered to be one of the most technically complex efforts ever attempted in the U.S. Meanwhile in Southern California, we are blighted by the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity who claim that building an above-ground pipeline to Cortez or the Pacific is too complicated and too costly. The benefit to the local economy of a rejuvenated Salton Sea can be measured in the tens of billions. Compare that to the cost of the toxic sandpit when the sea is left to die.
From my distant vantage point, as a simple scribe looking in from the sidelines, should I dare to suggest that there could be the corrupting influence of money playing a role somewhere and somehow?
When something that is both logical and necessary for the benefit of the populace is denied and hidden behind a subterfuge of bogus words like “restore” and “save,” not all is well in wonderland.
The truth is, my gut tells me there is a stench emanating from the sea. And it is not only that of rotting fish.
Ben McCall is a freelance writer residing in Palm Desert. Email him at email@example.com