(NaturalNews) In the midst of California’s ongoing drought, why do a pair of billionaires have access to more water than all of Los Angeles’s households combined?
That’s what many Californians are wondering, and the answer lies in the shrewd business practices and paid-for political influence wielded by Stewart and Lynda Resnick, a couple whose California agricultural empire is worth an estimated $4.2 billion.
The Resnicks, who bought their first piece of California farmland in 1978, have since amassed a staggering fortune by becoming the world’s biggest almond and pistachio growers and packagers.
The couple’s nut business now rakes in $5 billion in sales per year from their 130,000 acre operation in the state’s Central Valley, and to keep the cash rolling in requires lots of water.
Billionaire Resnicks use 120 billion gallons of water yearly
In fact, the Resnicks use around 120 billion gallons of water each year, and through clever manipulation and political muscle they have managed to acquire the rights to use this water – much of which is actually paid for by taxpayers.
It’s a complicated story, and there has been much litigation involved over the years, but in the end the Resnicks always seem to get their way – even if it means spending millions funding various political campaigns (both Democratic and Republican), and on mounting their own sneaky public relations campaigns designed to fool the public into thinking that it’s a good idea to spend their tax dollars subsidizing the couple’s business interests.
From Zero Hedge:
“The Resnicks received their first taxpayer-funded water windfall in 1995 when they were effectively ‘gifted’ the Kern Water Bank by the State of California (i.e. taxpayers). Ironically, the State had just purchased the Kern Water Bank 7 years prior for $148mm (in current terms) to serve as an emergency water supply for Los Angeles.”
Through some very convoluted and shady maneuvering, the Resnicks managed to not only gain control of this huge water supply, but have also figured out a way to buy water from the government and then sell it back at hugely inflated prices:
“Between 2000-2007, the Resnicks were able to pocket $30mm by buying State and Federal Water allocations at $28 per acre foot and then selling to the State of California (taxpayers) for as much as $196 per acre foot.”
The Resnicks’ latest taxpayer-funded water grabbing scheme
The Resnicks’ current “taxpayer-funded water grab” will be an even bigger score for the billionaire couple if they are successful – and they usually are, even though they stoutly deny having or using any political influence.
To make another long story short enough to fit this article, the couple are now involved in a scheme called the “Delta Tunnels” project, which will cost California taxpayers as much as $65 billion, and will largely benefit – you guessed it – the Resnicks.
The Delta Tunnels project will involve the construction of 30 miles of underground pipelines that will connect already-built water canals to the Sacramento River to supply the Resnicks’ farms in the Central Valley.
The underground tunnels will skirt restrictions regarding transporting water through the environmentally-sensitive California Delta, and will mainly benefit the Resnicks, who have at least partly successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of the tax-paying public (with the help of Gov. Jerry Brown), by leading them to believe that the project will protect public water supplies from possible earthquakes.
This clever hoodwinking was achieved through public relations campaigns mounted by Resnick-funded coalitions with names like “Californians for Water Safety,” which were formed to sway public opinion in favor of the project, using “fear tactics” and carefully-crafted buzzwords such as “fragile water infrastructure” and “water security.”
The Delta Tunnels project was recently “re-branded” by Gov. Brown, and is now known as the “California Water Fix.”
The legal battles continue, and although the outcome is not yet clear, it’s almost certain (notes Zero Hedge‘s Tyler Durden) that “the best interests of taxpayers will not get in the way of whatever decision is ultimately made.”