April 7, 2010

The fight for water continues

By The fight for water continues

Author: Brandon Middleton

It's not a great time right now for farmers and water users throughout the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Despite significant precipitation over the past several months, the federal government is currently preventing a vast amount of water from flowing to where it's most needed. Instead of certain deliveries of their most critical resource, farmers are witnessing their water go towards an uncertain benefit program for endangered species.

This is the Endangered Species Act at its worst, putting fish before people, giving little concern to the human impacts of a species-first policy.

There is hope, however. Over the past two weeks, attorneys for water users have been in federal court in an attempt to bring sanity to an insane situation. Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys have been there in support of the cause, as we believe our family farming clients should not have to watch their businesses suffer as a result of misguided federal policy.

The good news is that significant holes have been poked in the delta smelt and salmon biological opinions throughout the course of the proceedings. Testimony has demonstrated that government officials excluded data when it suited them and then used the exact same data in support of water cutbacks. Substantial evidence was put forward showing that the water pumps have been overly blamed for the delta smelt's demise. And it has become apparent that federal officials could provide more water to humans without greatly undermining the federal agencies' regulatory regimes.

There are no guarantees when it comes to environmental litigation, so it's too early to tell what the results of the proceedings will be. But given the exposure of major scientific and statistical flaws in the biological opinions, there is certainly reason for optimism.

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