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Attorney General Becerra suing Trump Administration over federal water export operations

Posted at 5:27 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 20:27:59-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Environmental Protection Agency filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Trump Administration for failing to protect endangered fish species from federal water export operations.

This lawsuit coming just one day after the president ceremoniously signed new rules altering how federal authorities decide who gets water, and how much, in California, the U.S. state with the biggest population and economy and most lucrative farm output.

The lawsuit asserts that these new rules to direct water project operations lack safeguards for protected species and their habitat in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds, including the Bay-Delta. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit requests that the court declare the Trump Administration’s adoption of these rules unlawful.

“As we face the unprecedented threat of a climate emergency, now is the time to strengthen our planet’s biodiversity, not destroy it,” said Attorney General Becerra. “California won’t silently spectate as the Trump Administration adopts scientifically-challenged biological opinions that push species to extinction and harm our natural resources and waterways.”

“We are challenging the federal biological opinions, which do not currently govern water project operation in the Delta, to protect highly imperiled fish species close to extinction,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Our goal continues to be to realize enforceable voluntary agreements that provide the best immediate protection for species, reliable and safe drinking water, and dependable water sources for our farmers for economic prosperity. This is the best path forward to sustain our communities, our environment and our economy.”

The lawsuit challenges the actions of the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency which adopted the biological opinions. The lawsuit also challenges the biological decisions issued in October 2019 by the National Marine Fisheries Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which lack sufficient protections for endangered and threatened fish.