EDF Wins Suit Affirming CVPIA Directive to Double California Salmon Levels

Ninth Circuit Rules that Central Valley Project must Dedicate Water for Salmon

March 2, 2012
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NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                      

 Contacts: Jennifer Witherspoon, (415) 293-6067, jwitherspoon@edf.org

 (Washington, DC – March 2, 2012) Environmental Defense Fund, along with other environmental and fishing organizations in California, won a victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed the directive of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) to double the population of California salmon and other anadronomous fish that spawn in fresh water.   

“This ruling is a victory for California salmon and the economic health of our state’s salmon industry, and the hundreds of communities and thousands of jobs that depend upon it,” said Cynthia Koehler, lead counsel for the environmental plaintiffs and EDF’s California water legislative director.  

The 1992 CVPIA, sponsored by George Miller (D-Calif.), directed the Bureau of Reclamation to ensure that natural production of anadromous fish in Central Valley rivers and streams will be sustainable on a long-term basis at levels at least twice the average levels attained between 1967 and 1991 by 2002. 

“The court firmly rejected Westlands Water District’s argument that water released from the Central Valley Project for any environmental purpose must reduce the amount of water Congress set aside for salmon,” said Koehler.  “It also underscores the fallacy of Congressman Nunes’ bill, H.R. 1837, that the all environmental rules for the Delta should be based on those applied in the 1994 Bay Delta Accord. The Bay Delta Accord only called for interim measures and did not intend to establish permanent  environmental rules, as the bill claims.”  

The House passed HR. 1837 on Wednesday, despite the fact that a majority of California members of Congress, and both Senators, oppose it.  It would: 

  1. Preempt state law and interferes with state water rights;
  2. Overturn the court approved settlement, reached through negotiations among the parties, to restore the San Joaquin River; and
  3. Undermine environmental protections for the Bay Delta estuary, salmon and other wildlife. 

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