Environmental organizations, fishing organizations, tribes, and Delta stakeholders protest rollback of environmental protections: “Environmental laws are not the cause of water shortages, and waiving them is not the solution.”
The NRDC, the Environmental Water Caucus, the CSPA, Friends of the River, Restore the Delta, and numerous other fishing, wildlife, Native American tribes, and environmental organizations have sent a letter to Secretary Jewell, Secretary Pritzker, Secretary Laird, and Secretary Rodriquez urging them to end the ongoing rollbacks of environmental protections in the Delta. Three dry years have caused the hardship, not the environmental protections, they say.
“Already, biologists in some of your agencies have warned that conditions in the Bay-Delta and its tributary rivers are so poor that we may lose entire year classes of several distinct populations of salmon,” the letter states. “Nevertheless, your agencies continue to approve rollbacks that fail to address these impacts of provide any reasonable biological justification. Further weakening of requirements would risk long-term and irreversible environmental damage.”
The latest snow survey shows conditions have improved significantly and DWR and the Bureau of Reclamation have both stated that health and safety needs of water contractors are met, the letter points out. The current waivers are not providing improved carryover storage or other benefits for fish, therefore the previous justification for weakening regulatory requirements no longer applies, they say.
The letter warns that they decisions they make in the coming weeks and months have other implications as well. Resolving the needs of the Delta requires a trust that the state and federal agencies will respect the needs of the environment even under political pressure, the letter points out. “Ignoring scientific evidence of potential environmental impacts during the drought due to the political demand of South of Delta agricultural interests, will make it far more difficult to reach an effective long-term solution in the Delta,” the letter states.
“Environmental laws are not the cause of water shortages, and waiving them is not the solution,” the letter says.