Federal Court Rejects Trump Administration’s Approval of California’s Cadiz Water Pipeline
President Trump’s Cadiz water-mining project was blocked by a federal court. If allowed to go forward, the Cadiz water- mining project would siphon water from the springs in the Mojave Trails National Monument and surrounding public lands, killing vegetation and destroying wildlife habitat . This was a great victory for California’s wildlife
LOS ANGELES— A federal court today ruled that the Trump administration violated the law when it greenlighted plans to construct a 43-mile-long pipeline through Mojave Trails National Monument and other public land in southern California.
The pipeline is part of the Cadiz water project, which would pump 16 billion gallons of water a year from the fragile desert aquifer to sprawling developments in Southern California.
In today’s ruling, U.S. District Judge George H. Wu said railroad easements can be used only for activities that further a railroad purpose and the Trump administration failed to justify that the Cadiz pipeline serves that purpose.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety and the National Parks Conservation Association filed suit in November 2017 and 2018 to challenge a decision by the Bureau of Land Management, which had reversed two Obama-era decisions. Those reversals gave the developer permission to build the pipeline within an existing railroad right-of-way.
“We’re grateful the court decision will stop the Trump administration’s blatant attempt to do a favor for their corporate friends. The court found that the reversal of Obama-era policies was unjustified and unexplained,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This massive water-privatization scheme is not sustainable. Cadiz will devastate the entire Mojave Desert ecosystem that relies 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.
Recent peer-reviewed, published science clearly demonstrated that the Cadiz proposal’s underlying science is flawed and the project would be devastating to both natural and cultural resources in California’s largest national monument, Mojave Trails.
University of California, Irvine Law Professor Michael Robinson-Dorn, who represented NPCA in their challenge, said “the decision again emphasizes the important role of our courts in holding the executive branch accountable for decisions that fail to follow the law.”
The project’s approval followed the appointment of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for Cadiz, as deputy Interior secretary. Bernhardt’s former employer, the Washington-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, continues to represent Cadiz.
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