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California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections

State claims court ruling shouldn't impact tunnel plan schedule
by Dan Bacher
Monday Mar 24th, 2014 7:53 AM
In a big victory for Delta landowners, the Court of Appeals ruled the state may not access private property in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to conduct studies used to plan the construction of Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels.

State claims court ruling shouldn't impact tunnel plan schedule

by Dan Bacher

On March 14, The California Department of Water Resources claimed that the Court of Appeal ruling the previous day in favor of Delta farmers regarding eminent domain shouldn't have "any material impact" on Governor Jerry Brown's rush to build the peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

"The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) does not expect yesterday’s (March 13, 2014) California Court of Appeal decision to have any material impact on the schedule of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP)," according to a statement from DWR.

"Based on the lower court’s decision, DWR has been proceeding pursuant to the eminent domain process to conduct geotechnical drilling and will continue to do so. Thus, the BDCP schedule takes into account the time needed for this process," the agency claimed. (http://www.water.ca.gov/news/newsreleases/2014/031414.pdf)

In a big victory for Delta landowners, the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District (San Joaquin), ruled the state may not access private property in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to conduct studies used to plan the construction of the twin tunnels. The court said these studies would first have to be authorized in formal eminent domain proceedings.

"Because the civil action described in section 1245.060 is an eminent domain proceeding for purposes of article I, section 19, and fulfills the constitutionalrequirements of just compensation and jury trial, procedural uncertainties associated with such a proceeding, such as the burden of proof, should be resolved with reference to the Eminent Domain Law," the Court ruled.

It is hard to see how the case will not have any "material impact" on the BDCP, as the state agency claims, since the ruling prohibits DWR from conducting the ground surveys and site assessments needed for BDCP's engineering, biological, geotechnical, archaeological, floral and faunal studies.

Resistance to the peripheral tunnels is building throughout the state. A broad coalition of Delta farmers, fishermen, Indian Tribes, grassroots environmentalists, elected officials and Delta residents oppose the tunnels because their construction would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

The alleged "habitat restoration" proposed under the plan would take vast tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of agricultural production to continue irrigating toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

Governor Jerry Brown's rush to build the peripheral tunnels is just one of many abysmal environmental policies that make Brown a candidate for the worst Governor for fish, water and the environment in California. Brown has continued and expanded the worst environmental policies of the Schwarzenegger administration, including the clear cutting of Sierra Nevada forests, the implementation of so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California waters under the privately-funded, oil industry lobbyist-overseen Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, and the killing of millions of fish every year at the state and federal pumping facilities on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Brown is also a strong supporter of the expansion of fracking in California, including the state's marine waters, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife's scheme to bulldoze a section of the Ballona wetlands in Southern California under the guise of "habitat restoration." Most recently, the Brown administration, along with the Obama administration, presided over the draining of northern California reservoirs during a record drought to export massive quantities of Delta water to corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies and Southern California water agencies in 2013.

For more information about Brown's many crimes against the environment, go to: http://www.alternet.org/environment/governor-jerry-browns-10-worst- environmental-policies‎