September 23, 2009

Real failure: Obama administration refuses to admit that the ESA is hurting the Central Valley

By Real failure: Obama administration refuses to admit that the ESA is hurting the Central Valley

Author: Brandon Middleton

The Obama administration has previously had trouble admitting that the Endangered Species act has prevented water from flowing to the Central Valley. The last week has seen this disturbing trend continue. The Interior Department's Sept. 17 "Reality Check" merely states that "[t]he temporary restrictions that were required under the Endangered Species Act ended on June 30th," as if the effects of the ESA are in the past.

The trouble is, of course, that the delta smelt biological opinion has already wrought significant economic and environmental damage and, unless something changes, it will remain in place in the years to come, serving as a means for the federal government to continue to restrict contractual water deliveries.

That is why Pacific Legal Foundation's constitutional lawsuit against the delta smelt restrictions is so important — not only will a legal victory invalidate the current delta smelt biological opinion, it will prevent the federal government from imposing any delta smelt restrictions in the future.

And then there's Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's testimony last week on the Valley's water crisis. Congressman Tom McClintock asked the Secretary a simple question: "Do you deny that more than 200 billion gallons of water have been diverted from the Central Valley to meet environmental regulations protecting the delta smelt?"

Watch the video for Secretary Salazar's not-so-simple answer and how using the "God Squad" to allow more water to flow to the Valley would be "an admission of failure."

It's one thing to impose unconstitutional delta smelt water restrictions. It's quite another to act as if they don't exist. Unfortunately, for thousands of Californians, the regulatory drought is all too real.

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