On Wednesday, President Trump visited Bakersfield to celebrate new federal rules delivering more water to Central Valley farmers and rolling back protections for fish. The official water "record of decision" comes after the Department of the Interior (DOI) late last year reversed its opinion on scientific findings that extended endangered species protections to various types of fish.
Central Valley leaders have complained for years against water restrictions intended to help salmon and smelt that inhabit the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and Delta further north. President Trump said the changes to the “outdated scientific research and biological opinions” would now help direct “as much water as possible, which will be a magnificent amount, a massive amount of water for the use of California farmers and ranchers.” The order comes as California has taken several steps to deal with the water scarcity that has lasted for decades. The state is expected to fight the order in court.
Late Thursday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Environmental Protection Agency filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration alleging failure to protect endangered fish species from federal water export operations. The lawsuit asserts that biological opinions prepared by federal agencies under the Endangered Species Act 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 the biological opinions unlawful. This action precipitated the following response from the Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt:
“Our team of career professionals did a great job using the best available science to develop new operational plans for the coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The governor and attorney general just launched a ship into a sea of unpredictable administrative and legal challenges regarding the most complex water operations in the country, something they have not chartered before. Litigation can lead to unpredictable twists and turns that can create significant challenges for the people of California who depend on the sound operation of these two important water projects.”