The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

November 23, 2008
Where will Darrell Steinberg come down on Peripheral Canal?
Once he takes command of the California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg will have a live grenade thrown into his lap -- the Peripheral Canal.

And who Steinberg selects to chair key committees could determine the fate of this contentious water project.

Southern California water interests and some environmental groups are seeking the canal to reduce fish conflicts in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They are urging Steinberg to select incoming Fran Pavley of Santa Monica to head the Senate Natural Resources Committee, which handles legislation related to water.

Pavley is a hero to environmentalists for co-authoring Assembly Bill 32, the 2006 legislation that commits California toward cutting greenhouse gases. But Pavley is a curious pick for Natural Resources. While in the Assembly, she didn't show a huge interest in water issues. In the Senate, her interests would seem to be better aligned with the Environmental Quality or Energy, Utilities and Communication committees.

So why are Southern California water interests pushing Pavley for Natural Resources? Because she is not Lois Wolk.

Wolk, from Davis, focused on water issues throughout her terms in the Assembly. But she is a Northern California politician, and it's hard to find many of this species who are publicly supportive off a peripheral canal. In addition, Wolk has also been a longtime ally of the Planning and Conservation League, a group that has fought efforts to fast-track the canal.

So where will Steinberg come down? If he picks Wolk, he'll anger his Southern California caucus, and if he picks Pavley, he'll anger his Northern California base. There's also a third possibility, reports Capitol Alert. Loni Hancock of Berkeley, who chaired Natural Resources in the Assembly, is also in the running for the Senate committee.

In the next few weeks, Steinberg will decide between these three. Who he selects will reveal much about his ability to juggle live grenades. 

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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