Two decades ago, California agencies joined federal agencies in signing the CALFED Record of Decision, which committed to a world class Delta science program. A key part of that commitment was to establish an Independent Science Board to provide oversight and peer review of the overall program. In 2009, the legislature established the Delta Independent Science Board as a replacement for the CALFED Independent Science Board.
In June of 2020, contracts to compensate continuing Delta Independent Science Board members were abruptly withdrawn from approval. In December 2020, the Chair and Past Chair of the Board sent a letter to Governor Newsom, offering to work either with the administration or with the legislature to resolve the situation. SB 821, which would restore contract compensation to the Board, passed both houses of the legislature with no opposition and was sent to the Governor’s desk on September 3, 2021.
The Governor has yet to take action on the bill, though the Delta Counties Coalition, the Delta Protection Commission, and a broad coalition of environmental, fishing, climate, and social justice organizations have all urged him to sign it. Phil Isenberg, the founding Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council joined with Northern California Water Association President David Guy in calling for the Governor to sign SB 821 and clarify that “independent” really means “independent.” The Governor should affirmatively support independent oversight by the Delta Independent Science Board by signing SB 821.