The Big Guy upstairs was pretty disgusted at what he saw going on in the Central Valley.
So he called on his loyal servant, Noah to build him a Land Ark.
“What for?” Noah asked.
“I need you to ferry my creatures out of the valley so I can start anew by having it rain for 40 days and 40 nights,” the Big Guy replied.
“Wouldn’t it be easier just to let the California Department of Water Resources continue doing what it’s doing in the name of flood control?” Noah responded. “Give them time and they’ll do your work.”
The Big Guy just shook his head. He patiently explained to Noah that the folks up in Tax-ramento were part of the problem. They were making it difficult for people to thrive in the valley, to sow the fields, to raise a family and to even build a place of worship as they needed to fill out 4,000 pages of environmental impact documents.
“Something has gone wrong, Noah,” the Big Guy said. “Government is supposed to be subservient. Instead, it is undermining the very paradise I sought to create when I created the Central Valley.”
Noah decided to faithfully follow the Big Guy.
So Noah built the biggest Land Ark Detroit had ever seen — bigger than a Suburban and brawnier than a Hummer 1. For good measure, he put in a Cummins diesel powered Hemi engine.
When the Land Ark was completed, the Big Guy instructed Noah to go out and get pairs of various creatures.
He ran into trouble right off the bat.
When he was trying to place two dairy cows in the Land Ark, the Environmental Protection Agency slapped him with a cease and desist order.
“In the name of heaven, why are you preventing me from putting two dairy cows in my Land Ark?” an incredulous Noah asked an EPA official.
“You have no plan in place to dispose of their methane gas,” the EPA official replied. “Methane gas from cows is one of the top polluting problems in our valley.”
Noah couldn’t believe what he heard. For years, people had been carping about urbanization squeezing out farming and how cars pollute the air. Now dairy cattle flatulence had become the EPA’s No. 1 target.
Noah decided he’d get back to the cows after filling out EPA required paperwork. He figured that after the flood waters receded, the Big Guy would like to see almond trees replanted. So he set out to secure two mechanical devices used to knock the “L” out of almond trees and was driving them back to the Land Ark when an environmental perfection cop pulled him over.
“Let me see your license for operating those things and how you plan to keep the dust down when you shake the almond trees with them,” the environmental perfection cop demanded.
“But officer, logic dictates when you shake almond trees, the nuts are going to hit the ground and create dust,” Noah protested.
“So?” the environmental perfection cop said. “Pick them by hand.”
With that, the environmental perfection cop impounded the almond tree shakers.
Noah decided to take a break from collecting pairs of things to make sure he had plenty of provisions. The first supply he decided to secure was water.
He was busy filling up jugs with water from the San Joaquin River, when he was tapped on the shoulder by the Three Wise guys.
“Do you have riparian water rights?” the First Wise Guy asked.
“Did you file a plan to make sure water flows would be maintained for Delta smelt,” the Second Wise Guy inquired.
“Do you have permission from the Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles to take their water?” the Third Wise Guy demanded.
“What about a wetlands recovery plan?” the First Wise Guy added.
“How are you going to make sure you don’t disturb habitat?”the Second Wise Guy chimed in.
“Why don’t you just go flood a pristine Sierra valley like Hetch Hetchy as the tree huggers in San Francisco did instead of taking from the San Joaquin River?” the Third Wise Man demanded.
Noah just threw up his hands and went to the next task on his list —providing a sanitary system for the 40 days and 40 nights he’d have people on his Land Ark.
As he was building his sanitary facilities, a Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board staff member knocked on the door of his Land Ark.
“Your permit is no longer valid,” the man told Noah. “There are new conditions you must meet. We want the wastewater purer than rainfall. This will require technology that will cost you $85 million and a $130 a month per passenger to flush.”
Noah looked at the directive and noticed the water wouldn’t be of that much greater quality yet it would drive the poor and the elderly to the streets in order to pay to flush their toilets.
“I don’t care,” the water control board official snapped. “It’s a good law. Who cares if it doesn’t really improve the water quality that much or forces wimpy senior citizens to decide between paying their sewer bill and eating?”
And to add injury on top of insult, gas prices skyrocketed from $3.55 per gallon when he started building the Land Ark to $3.95 due to the greenhouse emissions tax.
Noah looked skyward trying to see if there were any rain clouds behind the smog drifting in from over Altamont Pass as the winds cleared the pollution generated in San Francisco and the East Bay into the Central Valley.
Just then the Big Guy looked down and asked why Noah was discouraged.
“Why do the government bureaucrats labor so mightily to make life impossible for mankind?” Noah asked.
The Big Guy simply shook his head and said it was all about the original sin.
“Original sin?” Noah asked.
“Yes,” replied the Big Guy. “The bureaucrats have never forgiven Adam or Eve for wanting to have shelter or partake of apples and other food from nature without first doing a full-scale environmental report
Now Noah was really confused.
“But aren’t you in charge?” Noah asked. “Why don’t you just make it rain and get it over with?”
“I wish I could,” the Big Guy responded. But I have to do a full blown environmental impact report, conduct a hydrology study and go through 16 public hearings and then maybe the bureaucrats will consider giving me a permit.”
Noah now was beside himself.
“But Big Guy, you’ve taken on the Arch Angel,” Noah said.
The Big Guy just sighed.
“Noah,” the Big Guy said softly. “Arch Angels are one thing, but dealing with environmental perfection and bureaucrats is another.”
And that is the story of how it took 40 years and 40 weeks to conduct a hearing to see whether or not the Big Guy should be allowed to seed clouds over the Central Valley.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.