Biden’s California water embargo – WSJ
President Biden claims to like infrastructure. But note how his administration is working to hamper a desperately needed water supply project in the parched interior of California.
The Bureau of Land Management recently asked a federal court to overturn a permit the Trump administration granted last year to Cadiz Inc. to reuse a 220-mile pipeline and pipeline to transport gas. water across the Inland Empire and the Central Valley of California. The Greens sued in March to block Trump’s reallocation of the pipeline right-of-way to Cadiz, saying it could be used to transport water from the Cadiz water storage project to the Mojave Desert. Green radicals have tried for 20 years to block the project but have lost in court.
Cadiz’s private land sits above two watersheds with billions of gallons of water. He wants to use the watersheds as an underground water bank, which would function as a savings account. They would store runoff during wet years to use it during droughts.
After more than a decade struggling with environmental groups, Cadiz received approval in 2012 for its plan under the California Environmental Quality Act by the Santa Margarita Water District and San Bernardino County. But Cadiz still needs permits to transport water to users. This is where BLM came in to try and kill the project.
In 2015, BLM blocked a permit that would allow Cadiz to build a 43-mile underground pipeline southward along an existing rail right-of-way. We wrote about the government sabotage at the time, which included a BLM staff member who warned a hedge fund to short sell Cadiz shares. The employee still works at the agency.
The Trump administration overturned this BLM decision and granted the permit. But California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill in 2019 demanding more environmental studies. We are told that the Biden BLM did not grant Cadiz the necessary land access permits to conduct the studies. Still, the 220 mile pipeline that goes north could be used to transport water. The pipeline conveniently crosses the Mojave River Pipeline and the Los Angeles Aqueduct. It also passes through low-income rural communities where groundwater is contaminated and some people have to rely on bottled water.
But BLM recently asked the court to overturn the permit so it can consider the reassignment of the right-of-way under the National Environmental Policy Act. The pipeline already exists. The reallocation of the right-of-way would have no impact on the public domain. NEPA reviews can delay projects for years, and the Biden administration‘s sabotage shows how the law can be abused to block important public works.
BLM’s court case came days after California officials announced that towns and farms that depend on the State Water Project would receive 0% of their requested supply next year due to a severe drought, so rationing water could arrive. California businesses, unions and civil rights groups have called on the Biden administration to lift its water embargo.
“President Biden has just signed a $ 1 trillion critical infrastructure bill that could be the landmark achievement of his administration,” wrote League of Latin American United citizens director Jose Luis Barrera. Novoa, at the Ministry of the Interior. “This innovative pipeline conversion project may be the epitome of ‘build back better’ for a president who has pledged to give not only hope but action to communities that have been underserved for generations. “
In the Biden administration, obsessions with well-funded greens always seem to trump common public needs.
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