This just in … Groups request new environmental review for Delta tunnels

DWR Delta Minor Slough #5 sliderbox
Key data missing on water quality, fish, agriculture and public health impacts, they say

From the CSPA, PCL, Friends of the River, C-WIN, AquAlliance, Restore the Delta, and others:

Today, a coalition of conservation, fishing, and public interest organizations sent a letter to state and federal agencies requesting a new (and complete) environmental analysis of Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnels (CA WaterFix) proposal.

The groups claim the proposal, as currently submitted, violates the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act.

Among the claims made by the coalition:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the most recent environmental review documents for the project a failing grade in October 2015.
  • The EPA expected that the essential, but missing, environmental analyses would be supplied by other agencies during their review processes. That did not happen.
  • The US Bureau of Reclamation has now issued a biological assessment admitting the project is “likely to adversely affect” endangered and threatened fish species and their designated critical habitats. That contradicts Reclamation’s denials of adverse effects in the earlier Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
  • A new White House guidance requires consideration of the effects of climate change on federally-permitted projects.

“The National Environmental Protection Act is often called the ‘take a hard look at the environmental impacts’ law. Until the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources can prove the Delta Tunnels will not kill off fish species or destroy water quality for people in the Delta, the project remains un-permittable,” said Robert Wright, Senior Counsel for Friends of the River and author of the coalition letter.  He added: “The dog ate my homework defense doesn’t work in the federal courts.”

Groups signing the letter  include: AquAlliance, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Water Impact Network, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Environmental Water Caucus, Friends of the River, Planning and Conservation League, Restore the Delta, and Sierra Club California.

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