In long-shot legislation, California Congressman seeks to exempt Sacramento Delta from Endangered Species Act
Implementation of the Endangered Species Act in the Sacramento Delta has been a frequent topic on the pages of ESA blawg. See ESA blawg on OCAP decision and July PCFFA decision. While the slow-motion train wreck, thanks to litigation over the delta smelt and other species, continues to plod along in the Federal Court system, the BradentonHerald.com reported yesterday that California Republican George Radanovich "wants to suspend one of the nation's premier environmental laws in order to increase water pumping out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In a long-shot bill being introduced Thursday, Radanovich proposes to exempt two Delta-area pumping plants from the Environmental Species Act during designated droughts." See also, the Sacramento Bee and Merced Sun-Star. Although the text of the bill is not yet available (I keep checking Thomas and the Rep.'s website), Radanovich's past official statements before the Congression Subcommittee on Water and Power, blaming the implementation of the ESA and the litigation, are readily available:
We must confront these radical environmental decisions that threaten the way of life of many Valley residents. Had it not been for the Wagner decision and reduced Delta exports, our farmers would have been better equipped to handle this year’s drought and we would not likely have been in the dire situation that has brought us here. Instead of looking just at the pumps, Judge Wanger should be looking at predation, overfishing, toxic from the Delta and other things. It will never happen in the Pelosi Congress, but we should look at enacting legislation that keeps the pumps running at full capacity until there’s a consensus that the pumps have been the sole cause of fish predation... We cannot afford additional environmentally charged judicial decisions, propped up by a woefully misguided Endangered Species Act, that would further reduce water exports from the Delta, which is already operating at two-thirds capacity.
Rep. Radanovich, who represents the Yosemite Valley region, also endorsed the idea of a perimeter canal to divert waters around the Delta, a solution that might avoid some of the endangered species problems:
Additionally, it is imperative that we have an alternative conveyance around the Delta. The West Side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California depend on the water supply provided from the Delta. Without an alternative conveyance, another judicial decision with similar effects to the Wanger Delta Smelt decision could devastate California agriculture and the entire economy of the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley.
P.S. Heading southbound on I-5 (depending on traffic), the L.A. Times published Andrew Wetzler's editorial column on the Endangered Endangered Species Act.