[env-trinity] Westlands strikes back in bid to raise dam

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Tue Aug 13 12:38:00 PDT 2019


CALIFORNIA: Westlands strikes back in bid to raise dam



CALIFORNIA

Westlands strikes back in bid to raise dam



Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E News reporter


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Jeremy P. Jacobs -- www.eenews.net


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Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Shasta Dam in California.  Prayitno/Flickr

An influential California water district yesterday sought to reverse a court order blocking any work on raising Shasta Dam in Northern California, a priority for the Trump administration.

Westlands Water District, which serves a Rhode Island-size part of the San Joaquin Valley, called a state judge's order blocking its environmental review unprecedented and asked a state appeals court to undo it.

Tom Birmingham, the district's general manager, said in a statement that Westlands was trying to fill a void in the environmental review of the potential project.

"Westlands initiated preparation of an environmental impact report pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)," he said.

The dispute concerns the push by Westlands and other agricultural interests to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet. The 600-foot dam is one of the most important in California's complex water infrastructure that shuttles water from the wet north to farms and cities in the drier south.

Shasta Dam impounds the state's largest reservoir, feeding the federal Central Valley Project, where Westlands draws its water. Raising the dam would expand the lake.

California and environmentalists have long opposed the plan, arguing that raising the dam would violate the state's wild and scenic rivers law because it would inundate the protected McCloud River.

The Bureau of Reclamation has pushed ahead with studying the project in the Trump administration, using $20 million Congress appropriated last year. The whole project would cost at least $1.3 billion.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) took the unusual step of filing the current lawsuit against Westlands, contending it could not act as the lead state agency on the project. Earlier this month, a state judge issued an injunction blocking Westlands' work on the issue pending trial (Greenwire, Aug. 1).


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WESTERN WATER: Court blocks Westlands' dam raise push, for now

A judge yesterday blocked the influential Westlands Water District from working to raise Shasta Dam in Northern ...
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Westlands said yesterday that it was only evaluating whether it would contribute funds to the project. Under current law, Reclamation would have to obtain significant local funding before moving ahead with construction.

In its filing, the district contends the state's lawsuit seeks to block the CEQA process before it has even begun. CEQA is California's equivalent of the National Environmental Policy Act.

"This is not a typical CEQA case, seeking an injunction to enjoin a project or to require an agency correct deficient environmental review," Birmingham said. "Instead, this injunction halts the CEQA process before it can even be completed, or any decision has been made by the agency."
Twitter: @GreenwireJeremy

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Jeremy P. Jacobs (@GreenwireJeremy) | Twitter

The latest Tweets from Jeremy P. Jacobs (@GreenwireJeremy). West coast writer for E&E News. Tweets about energy/...
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 Email: jjacobs at eenews.net

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CALIFORNIA: Westlands strikes back in bid to raise dam

An influential California water district yesterday sought to reverse a court order blocking any work on raising ...
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