November 6, 2022

IS WATER RACIST? ISN’T EVERYTHING?

Last year California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), explicitly responding to the suddenly discovered legacy of “white supremacy” and “the national and worldwide backlash against racism toward Black people and related Black Lives Matter protests of 2020,” passed a nine-page resolution(accompanied by 47 pages of “reference literature”), headlined “Condemning Racism, Xenophobia, Bigotry, and Racial Injustice and Strengthening Commitment to Racial Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, Access, and Anti-Racism.” One might have thought “inclusion” would have involved mentioning homophobia and Islamophobia, too, except that Black Lives Matter and their supporters get very angry when you mention the importance of any non-black group.

This cliché-ridden piece of predictable performance posturing is a case study of several intertwined traits of progressive governance today. California’s State Water Resources Control Board (and nine regional subordinate water boards) dates back to the 1960s, and was initially charged with monitoring the state’s water with an eye to detecting and remediating pollution from major sources such as industrial production, agricultural runoff, wastewater, and natural sources of unhealthy water. Surface and subsurface water quality is one of the more challenging environmental problems the nation faces because of the wide variety of ways water quality can be degraded, so it is not surprising that water monitors and regulators have a large range of factors to manage, from underground storage tanks to—in California’s case—the effects of specialized industries such as winemaking to, more recently, cannabis cultivation.

But as with all bureaucracies, mission creep and the political imperative of ever larger budgets and staff always leads to inexorable growth of power and reach, even as its primary original mission remains unfulfilled. Naturally the Board now includes “climate change” as one of its primary concerns, and “public outreach” and education—essentially propaganda and self-congratulation—as key functions. It is not surprising that it would jump on the anti-racist bandwagon along with everyone else in Leftist government.

But is California’s water more or less racist than its roads and bridges?

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