This just in … Court issues clarification on Delta Plan ruling

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“To be clear, the Delta Plan is invalid and must be set aside until proper revisions are completed.”

The Sacramento Superior Court has issued a tentative ruling on multiple parties requests for clarification of the recent ruling on the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan.

In May of 2013, the Council adopted a Delta Plan containing 14 regulatory policies and 73 recommendations. After it’s adoption, multiple parties filed lawsuits that challenged the the sufficiency and legality of the Delta Plan, as well as challenged the sufficiency of the Delta Plan’s Environmental Impact Report. In May of 2016, the court issued a mixed ruling on those challenges, finding that the Delta Plan does not meet the requirements of the Delta Reform Act with respect to establishing “quantified or otherwise measurable targets”, but left intact the Council’s authority to require reduced reliance on the Delta, among other things. The ruling had both sides claiming victory.

However, the vagueness of the ruling brought many questions, leading the Delta Stewardship Council, the State and Federal Water Contractors, and the City of Stockton to file motions for clarification. The Court has issued its tentative ruling on those questions.

The ruling clarifies that in light of the Court’s deficiencies in the Delta Plan, it is invalid and must be set aside until proper revisions are completed.

The ruling states:

“The Court reiterates that Respondent must revise the Delta Plan, and any applicable regulations to include quantified or otherwise measurable targets associated with achieving reduced Delta reliance, reduced environmental harm from invasive species, restoring more natural flows, and increased water supply reliability. Consequently, to achieve Delta Reform Act compliance with section 85308’s requirements for quantifiable or otherwise measurable targets, Respondent must adopt legally enforceable regulations. Merely providing recommendations to comply with section 85308 is insufficient.”

The court also clarifies that the challenges to the EIR and CEQA are moot:

in light of the Court’s finding of statutory violations and its finding that the Delta Plan is invalid, there is no longer a project with an EIR for which to conduct a CEQA analysis and review. Accordingly, the Court provided that the CEQA matters were moot, by which the Court implied, without expressly ordering, that there is no project, and consequently no EIR to currently review.

The ruling clarifies that the Delta Plan is invalid and must be set aside pending revisions and that there is nothing currently before the Court to review under CEQA.

Read the ruling here: Delta Plan Lawsuit Decision
Read the response from the Delta Stewardship Council here.


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