[env-trinity] EDITORIAL Stop outrageous effort to ban Delta tunnels lawsuits
tstokely at att.net
Sun May 27 09:20:53 PDT 2018
EDITORIALStop outrageous effort to ban Delta tunnels lawsuits Shameful.It’s the only way to describe the latest effort by a Southern California lawmaker to grab as much water as possible from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta without regard to the health of the largest estuary west of the Mississippi.Riverside County Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, on May 8 slipped a rider into the 2019 House Interior and Environmental Appropriations bill prohibiting any judicial review of Gov. Jerry Brown’s $16 billion Delta twin-tunnels plan.It’s beyond outrageous.More than 25 lawsuits already have been filed challenging environmental review of the so-called “WaterFix,” its funding mechanism and the permitting for the project.Among the parties in the lawsuits are Contra Costa County, East Bay Municipal Water District, the Sierra Club, The Bay Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council.Those lawsuits and any future legal challenges would go out the window if the bill passes with Calvert’s rider intact, even if it’s clear that state and federal laws were broken. But here’s the nightmare scenario: Calvert’s strategic maneuver gives the state’s Department of Water Resources the authority to send an unlimited supply of water from the Delta to Southern California without the threat of a legal challenge.Think about it.Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District in April committed $10.8 billion to build the two 35-mile, fourstory- tall tunnels under the Delta.They would be capable of sending enough water to Southern California to fill 8,000 Olympic-size swimming pools every day. The largest water district in the nation has no intention of making that kind of commitment without an expectation that it will draw every drop of water possible from the Delta without concern for its health.Calvert’s rider also serves to demonstrate the magnitude of Santa Clara Valley Water District’s colossal error earlier this month in committing $650 million for the project.This isn’t the first time a Republican congressman has tried to head off legal challenges for a pet project. It’s merely the latest ploy to skirt legitimate opposition. More than two dozen bills currently being considered by Congress carry bans on judicial reviews.Nor is this the first time that Calvert, whose woeful record on environmental issues is well-established, has worked to put Southern California’s quest for water over the health of the Delta. Calvert is the author of HR 3916, the Federally Integrated Species Health Act, which is also designed to increase water flow from the Delta to Southern California.Rep. John Garamendi, DWalnut Grove, called Calvert’s latest maneuver “a radical assault on environmental laws by Congress,” and is working to rally support to fight it.But the best hope for blocking the bill is likely in the Senate, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein has already indicated her intention to oppose it.Meanwhile, Brown has remained silent on the bill. The governor is the twin tunnels’ biggest advocate, but it would be hypocritical of him to support Calvert’s legislation while also using the courts to fight President Trump’s repeated attacks on California’s environmental laws.Lawsuits can create frustrating delays for lawmakers trying to push projects forward. But they also serve to provide crucial public protections. Calvert’s effort to subvert the judicial process must not stand.
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