Environmentalists and Government Battle over Contracts
Sunday, February, 21, 2016
A group of California environmentalists and federal agencies will attempt mediation over an expired water contract, according to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel.
The panel called the previous ruling bizarre, before ordering mediation, and pointed out the groups were dealing with 2012 contracts and are at the whim of Mother Nature. One of the judges on the panel stated, “It just seems to me that this is the kind of problem that a really gifted mediator with willing parties, might be able to make a lot more headway than if you just keep filing lawsuits…”
The problem concerns an appeal over eight water contracts that exist between farmers and the federal Bureau of Reclamation. These contracts expired in February 2014. The Central Valley Project (a group that has faced multiple lawsuits), sends water to farmers and suppliers in the Central Valley through the bureau’s maze of canals and reservoirs.
The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations believed the government failed to do environmental impact statements and violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving the interim contracts that replaced those that expired in 2012. The federation claims the government continued to renew the two-year interim agreements, ignoring the long-term environment impact to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The groups claim they want to end the bureau’s evasion of the National Environmental Policy Act and to receive a promise that the impact on the delta will be reviewed by the Central Valley Projects in the future before the group approves contracts.