PLF asks SCOTUS to weigh in on Delta smelt water cutbacks

October 01, 2014 | By DAMIEN SCHIFF

Today, PLF attorneys submitted to the United States Supreme Court a petition for certiorari, asking the high court to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding the legality of the San Joaquin Valley/Southern California water cutbacks imposed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on account of the Delta smelt, a small fish protected under the Endangered Species Act.  The petition, filed on behalf of three San Joaquin Valley farmers hard-hit by the smelt water delivery cutbacks and styled Stewart & Jasper Orchards v. Jewell, asks the Supreme Court to address three issues:

First, is the Service required to take into account the economic impacts of species protections before imposing them on federal projects?

Second, should courts defer to the Service’s interpretation of its own regulations?

Third, should the high court overturn its landmark 1978 decision in TVA v. Hill, which holds that the Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to make species protection their “highest” priority, “whatever the cost”?

A decision from the Court on whether to accept the case will probably be made in early 2015.