Nov 28, 2019

California to Sue Over Federal Government Water Rules

California officials are suing the federal government over proposed rules managing the state’s water scarcity.

California officials are suing the federal government over proposed rules managing the state’s water scarcity.

California officials are gearing up to sue the federal government over proposed rules managing the state’s water scarcity.

Officials argue its conclusions are not scientifically adequate and fall short of protecting the interest of the species and the state, according to the Associated Press

“We value our partnerships with federal agencies on water management,” said state Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld. “At the same time, we also need to take legal action to protect the state’s interest and our environment.”

In October, the federal government proposed new rules that would govern the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, reported the Associated Press. Gov. Gavin Newsom seeks to reconcile the interests of the state’s $50 billion agriculture industry with the growing list of endangered species.

The rules aim to deliver more water to farmers, but environmentalists warn that it would threaten endangered species further.

Newsom believes the state’s actions are beginning “to chart a new path forward for water policy in California,” reported the Associated Press. “As stewards of this state’s remarkable natural resources, we must do everything in our power to protect them,” said Newsom.

Earlier in 2019, Newsom angered environmentalists when he vetoed a law that would have applied California’s Endangered Species Act to the federally-operated Central Valley Project. 

The state is also proposing its own rules governing the State Water Project. Environmental groups are criticizing these proposed rules, however.

Doug Obegi, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, referred to them as “Trump lite.”

“It’s not as bad as what’s in the Trump (proposed rules), but it’s certainly less protections than what’s in place today,” said Obegi.

Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Lisa Lien-Mager said the new rules give the state Department of Fish and Wildlife authority to stop the increased pumping if it determines it would violate the Endangered Species Act, however. The plan would also set aside 200,000 acre ft of water to offset the additional pumping impacts in the Delta.

Read related content about California's water scarcity:

expand_less