Mon 3/25: YES on SB 307, Stop Cadiz Inc.! Email tonight, call first thing Tuesday morning!

Please take quick action today to let Senator Jackson know to vote in support of this bill!

Tomorrow, Tuesday (26th), the California State Senate Natural Resources committee, which includes our Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, will vote on SB 307 to stop the Trump administration’s deregulation of Cadiz, Inc., a water mining company that wants to extract and sell 16 billion gallons of hexavalent chromium-tinged groundwater each year from beneath Mojave Trails National Monument, one of the driest places in North America.

It’s a ridiculous plan that jeopardizes the desert’s national parks, monuments and wildlife that depend on the water. The Trump administration, with Cadiz’s former lobbyist David Bernhardt now Acting Interior Secretary, eliminated the required federal review of the project in order to silence federal scientists who don’t support the project.

The California legislature is pushing back. SB 307, legislation by Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside), would subject the Cadiz project to review and permitting by the State government, restoring safeguards.

Minimal Script: I calling from [zip code] and urge you to support SB 307 to stop Cadiz groundwater mining and protect our fragile, Mojave desert ecosystem. The Trump Administration gave the green light to the Cadiz project without ensuring the necessary environmental reviews were completed, and it’s California’s responsibility to do the right thing for our state’s desert ecosystems and protected national parks.

Contact:
State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (SD-19)SAC (916) 651-4019, email
Call her Sacramento office in the morning before her 9:30 meeting. Let the staffer who picks up the phone know you are a constituent and have a message for the Senator regarding SB 307, the Cadiz bill.

More members of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water

Senator Henry I. Stern (Chair), Senator Brian W. Jones (Vice Chair), Senator Benjamin Allen, Senator Andreas Borgeas, Senator Anna M. Caballero, Senator Robert M. Hertzberg, Senator Ben Hueso, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Senator Bill Monning,

Who is this Cadiz Inc.? Why do they selling water from a desert?

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The  Center for Biological Diversity,  the Center for Food Safety and EarthJustice.org are all working together on this project that turns public resources into private profits.

Cadiz, Inc. is a public company that acquired land in the Cadiz Valley in the 1980’s. They drilled a well and did just enough farming to establish water rights, which they planned to sell to residents of southern CA at a hefty profit. The project would entail the sinking of 34 wells into the desert and construction of a 44-mile pipeline, supposedly alongside railway lines, to meet up with the aqueduct carrying Colorado River water to the Los Angeles and Orange County metropolitan areas, with a tentative budget of $536.25 million. A succession of environmental challenges and lawsuits delayed the implementation of the project, including a 2015 2015 U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision that Cadiz, Inc. could not use the existing federal railroad right-of-way for the water pipeline it intends to construct to convey water drawn from the aquifer to the Colorado River Aqueduct. In March, with the corrupt Ryan Zinke at the helm of the Interior, the Trump Administration, in the form of a blanket memo from a BLM acting assistant director, revoked two of the legal bases for the agency’s 2015 decision blocking the Cadiz project. It is a huge surprise to nobody that David Bernhardt, our wanna-be Interior Department secretary, was a former lobbyist for Cadiz and that his former employer, former employer, the Washington-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, continues to represent Cadiz.

EarthJustice.org: “A recent study published earlier this year confirmed what has long been suspected: that the groundwater in this region is interconnected — or in scientist’s terms, “hydrologically linked.” As a result, the authors of the study warned that reducing groundwater in this area will result in a “potentially substantial decrease in free-flowing water” at natural springs in the area. Natural springs in the desert, like the beautiful Bonanza Springs, are a critical source of water for a wide range of desert critters, including frogs, migrating birds, bighorn sheep, and several threatened or endangered species. (Read our client’s recent declaration about the impacts the Cadiz project would have on the desert.) Cadiz’s project is likely to put many of these species at risk.

Oh, and then there are the carcingens in the water… “Second, the water beneath Cadiz is contaminated with hexavalent chromium, a cancer-causing chemical that was at the center of the movie “Erin Brockovich.” Cadiz insists the contamination is naturally occurring, and it has promised to treat it, although it admits the water has been found to contain at least 16 parts per billion of hexavalent chromium. The federal limit on hexavalent chromium is currently 100 parts per billion, which most environmental advocacy groups agree is woefully inadequate to protect public health. The State of California acted to protect consumers in 2014 by lowering its standard on hexavalent chromium from 50 to 10 parts per billion — which would have put Cadiz’s water well above the new state limit. Unfortunately, a court overturned California’s protective 10 part-per-billion limitation in late 2017. California still plans to issue a new, lowered limit on hexavalent chromium within the next two years, which means Cadiz might be subject to even more legal hurdles in 2019.

Senator Diane Feinstein: “For close to two decades, Cadiz has been trying to ram through a water extraction project that would harm the Mojave Desert. And now we hear from the Metropolitan Water District that the water Cadiz wants to extract could contain dangerous chemicals that pose a threat to the safety of Southern California’s water supply,” Feinstein said. “The water that Cadiz plans to extract contains numerous contaminants including arsenic and cancer-causing Chromium-6. Left untreated, it could pollute the pristine water of the Colorado River Aqueduct, endangering the health of not only Cadiz’s customers but all 19 million Californians who rely on that water.” Feinstein was the lead sponsor of the1994 California Desert Protection Act signed into law by President Clinton and the sponsor of the California Desert Protection Act of 2011, the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2015 and the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2017, and a longtime opponent of Cadiz, Inc.’s designs on desert water. Last year, she supported CA Assembly bill AB 1000, which would halt significant desert water pumping until state land and wildlife officials review the proposed groundwater extractions to first certify they will not harm the desert’s ecology. The bill was blocked by State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens and Kevin de León D-Los Angeles, the Senate President Pro Tempore, and it died in the CA Senate Appropriations Committee. The Cadiz corporate headquarters is located in De León’s district and he received $9,100 in political contributions from them, $4,100 for his California Senate campaign in 2014 and $5,000 in June of this year for his planned run for lieutenant governor in 2018.

(Center for Food Safety) “The Cadiz water project, approved without environmental review, includes the construction of a pipeline through the Mojave Trails National Monument and other public lands in the area.

Today’s lawsuit notes that the Trump administration reversed two Obama administration decisions and wrongly concluded that the Cadiz project’s 43-mile pipeline did not require any federal Bureau of Land Management permits or approvals. The BLM is allowing the developer to build the pipeline within an existing railroad right-of-way, paving the way for Cadiz to pump 16 billion gallons of water a year from the fragile desert aquifer to sprawling new developments in Southern California.”

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Cadiz project will suck the desert dry while developers count their money,” said Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s an unsustainable water-privatization scheme. Pumping ancient groundwater from the Mojave Desert to water suburban lawns in Orange County will devastate desert wildlife and the entire ecosystem relying on that water for survival.”

If allowed to move forward, the Cadiz water-mining project would drain life-giving springs in the Mojave Trails National Monument and surrounding public lands, killing vegetation and destroying key habitat for a host of desert wildlife, including the threatened desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, Mojave fringe-toed lizards and kit foxes. Hydrologists from the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the Cadiz project is unsustainable and that the company’s privately funded study vastly overstates the aquifer’s recharge rate.

“The Trump administration’s approval of the Cadiz project is crony capitalism at its worst,” said Adam Keats, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety. “So much life relies on this precious desert groundwater, yet under Trump apparently the only thing that matters is how much money you have and who your friends are in government.” The project’s approval followed the appointment of David Bernhardt, a deputy Interior Department secretary and former lobbyist for Cadiz. Bernhardt’s former employer, the Washington-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, continues to represent Cadiz.”

 

 

 

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