Issues and Cases

Water cutoff for Delta smelt is illegal

Stewart & Jasper Orchards v. Jewell, et al.

Contact: M. Reed Hopper

Status: On July 23, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied rehearing before the entire court, leaving an adverse ruling in March in place. The petition for writ of certiorari by the U.S Supreme Court on January 12, 2015.

Jim Jasper, PLF clientIn a misguided scheme to help a fish that’s on the Endangered Species Act list—the delta smelt—federal restrictions have severely cut the pumping into the water system that serves millions of people in Central and Southern California.

These are “the most drastic cuts ever to California water … the biggest impact anywhere, nationwide,” according to the California water agencies.

While farms and businesses are starved of water, more than 81-billion gallons of water have been allowed to flow out to the ocean—off limits to human use or consumption, thanks to federal regulators’ environmental extremism. That’s enough to put 85,000 acres of farmland back into production.

In the Central Valley, California’s agricultural heartland, thousands of jobs are threatened by the pumping cutbacks. In some urban communities of Southern California, water rationing is a prospect. Moreover, in a real sense, national security is also at issue: By starving America’s breadbasket, the feds make us more dependent on foreign sources for the basic need of life: food.

Representing farmers affected by the water cutbacks, PLF’s federal lawsuit focuses on the failure of the Fish and Wildlife Service to take into account the economic impacts of the smelt water cutbacks.  In March, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Service has no obligation to consider economic impacts when protecting the smelt.  On September 30, 2014, PLF filed a petition for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, asking it to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision.



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