Guest opinion by Molly Brown, Ami Marcus and Angelina Cook
Mt. Shasta Community Rights Project

At the Mt. Shasta City Council meeting on May 24, the Council will present its report on the Community Water Rights and Self-Government Ordinance. Our own report, Mt. Shasta Water Rights: Who Decides?, detailing why local control of our future is necessary and how the ordinance works, was released online Monday.

We expect to have a lively discussion about these two reports at the May 24 meeting.

This ordinance protects the right to “sustainably access, use, consume, and preserve water drawn from natural water cycles.” The ordinance will specifically prohibit corporate cloud seeding and corporate water extraction for resale within city limits. More broadly, it will defend the rights of citizens to self-government and the rights of natural communities and ecosystems to exist, flourish, and evolve.
It is vital for Mt. Shasta citizens to have the right to decide how to best manage local resources. But it’s more than that: adopting a law that protects community rights to determine how resources are used sets an important precedent for California, and is part of a broader national movement to bring corporations under democratic control.

In 2008, when PG&E announced plans for a cloud seeding project in the McCloud-Pit River basin, residents were neither informed nor given a voice in deciding if the plans would go forward. Cloud seeding is a form of weather modification in which silver iodide, a Class-C toxin, is disbursed from ground-based towers. Cloud seeding by corporations is completely unregulated in California. Yet, if a municipality or other public sector entity wants to seed the clouds, they must go through a formal environmental impact review process.
This tells us two things: 1) Cloud-seeding holds unforeseen risks, and 2) Corporations in California have bought their way out of the democratic process.

PG & E has just spent $35 million to put Proposition 16 on the state ballot, an initiative that would force local governments to win a two-thirds popular vote in order to take control of their local power grid. We’re talking about an enormous corporate monopoly seeking to grow stronger at the expense of our democracy. Now, with cloud seeding, they don’t just want to control the legislature and the power grid – they want to control the climate and own the rain before it hits the ground.

The 98-page report, prepared by concerned citizens, Global Exchange and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, is available at www.shastacommongs.org or http://
www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/greenrights/ShastaRightsReport.pdf). We hope you will take the time to read it and come to your own conclusions.

When different interests are at stake – agriculture, fisheries, livelihoods, environmental conservation – there are bound to be differences of opinion; in fact, a strong democracy depends on differences of opinion. But at the end of the day, a strong democracy also depends on community involvement. The health, safety, and quality of life of Mt. Shasta residents, and the beauty and sustainability of the natural environment, should be a matter for Mt. Shasta residents to decide.  And that is why everyone in Mt Shasta should attend the May 24 City Council Meeting.