NEWS WORTH NOTING: Delta Counties call Metropolitan vote for twin tunnels a bad deal for ratepayers and the Delta; Cadiz responds to lawsuit filed by Center for Biological Diversity; USEPA Region 9 enforcement priorities revealed

Delta Counties call Metropolitan vote for twin tunnels a bad deal for ratepayers and the Delta

From the Delta Counties Coalition:

The Delta Counties Coalition issued the following statements in response to Metropolitan Water District’s vote to finance the State of California’s proposed Twin Tunnels project (known as “WaterFix”):

“MWD’s vote disregards the Delta, its environment, and community, and ratepayers of Southern California will be on the hook for this risky project,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis, who spoke at the MWD meeting. “The MWD board ignored more viable alternatives and chose to waste billions of dollars on a project that does more harm than good.”

“The vote yesterday is purely a ‘water grab’ and will bring about further devastation to the Delta, the environment, and our communities,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli.

“MWD’s vote is irresponsible and short-sighted,” said Kathy Miller, San Joaquin County Supervisor. “This vote risks ratepayer dollars on an ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible project, and permanently endangers the fragile Delta ecosystem. There is still no assurance of adequate funding for the project. It fails to include any meaningful safeguards to protect the environment or guard against future rate increases. It’s disappointing to see the State submit to MWD rather than show the political courage to move away from the divisive WaterFix and find genuine solutions that unite Californians and make our state a leader in water stewardship and delivery. This tunnel fight isn’t over…not by a long shot.”

Yolo County Supervisor Oscar Villegas stated, “The split vote clearly demonstrates that the purported project beneficiaries cannot agree that the tunnels will indeed provide sufficient benefit. The concerns of Met’s member agencies regarding the fiscal and environmental feasibility of the project echoes the same concerns the DCC has raised for years. It is time to focus on real water solutions.”

The DCC is an alliance of the counties of Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo. The DCC advocates for protecting the interests of the Delta and California’s water supply and has produced a set of approaches that will achieve balance for the economic and environmental health of the Delta while also improving water supply stability.

For more information regarding the DCC and its ideas for fixing California’s water issues, please visit sharedwatersolutions.com.

Cadiz responds to lawsuit filed by Center for Biological Diversity

From Cadiz, Inc.:

Yesterday the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced it filed yet another lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) – this time to obtain the release of documents about the Cadiz Water Project from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In announcing its lawsuit, CBD also took the opportunity to repeat previously discredited allegations about the Cadiz Water Project, the Project’s record of public agency approval and our commitment to environmental sustainability.

The CBD has earned its reputation as a “litigation happy organization”; its legal department is five times larger than its science wing, with an estimated 49 lawyers and paralegals on staff, far outweighing the organization’s science department comprised 10 employees. Today’s lawsuit is the third lawsuit which they attribute to the Cadiz Water Project filed in the last six months.

This lawsuit becomes the 65th lawsuit the organization has pending against the Trump Administration but CBD also had dozens of active lawsuits against the Obama Administration as well. Congress has previously investigated CBD’s actions and found that from 2009-2012 CBD and its surrogates collected more than $2.3 million dollars in legal fees from the federal government under “private settlements” related to challenges of the Endangered Species Act alone.

With regard to the lawsuit announced yesterday, we look forward to reviewing these and other materials as soon as they are available. We also continue to await the result of our own outstanding FOIA request so we that we can better understand the role CBD and others may have played in BLM’s controversial 2015 evaluation of the Project’s planned use of an active private right-of-way.

CBD’s pattern of filing suits and issuing press releases about the Project ignores basic facts: Congress was responsible for the reversal of the 2015 BLM evaluation in multiple forums over many months. In the end it was a bipartisan vote of Congress, not the Trump Administration, that removed the primary federal barrier to the Project, also known as the “Feinstein rider,” that had created a unique certification, essentially a bill of attainder, creating a process only applicable to the Cadiz Project.

The Cadiz Water Project will conserve water presently lost to evaporation to create a new reliable water supply and groundwater storage in accordance with all local, state and federal laws.  The Project’s review and approval have been repeatedly upheld by unanimous opinions in California’s Courts against “all-comers” and specifically CBD.

LEGAL ANALYSIS: USEPA Region 9 enforcement priorities revealed

From Downey Brand:

“Ever since President Trump took office in January 2017, several questions have arisen within the environmental community regarding how his administration will change the legal and enforcement priorities of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). During an event last week hosted at the Bar Association of San Francisco, Ms. Sylvia Quast, the Regional Counsel for U.S. EPA Region 9, shed some light on the enforcement philosophy and priorities in the coming year for Region 9. A major theme of Ms. Quast’s presentation was that, despite a number of key changes in federal environmental policies, the key enforcement principles and priorities for U.S. EPA Region 9 will remain unchanged for the next year. … ”

Continue reading from Downey Brand here: LEGAL ANALYSIS: USEPA Region 9 enforcement priorities revealed

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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