11.28.17 | Today, as expected, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a lawsuit against the US Department of the Interior and US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) challenging BLM’s recent review of the Cadiz Water Project’s proposed use of an active railroad right-of-way for its water conveyance pipeline and appurtenant improvements that provide critical railroad benefits to the host railroad. CBD previously sued the Santa Margarita Water District, the County of San Bernardino and Cadiz in California’s State Court system, challenging the adequacy of environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the County’s approval of a groundwater management plan for the Project. All California Superior and Appellate Court opinions issued over four years from 2012 – 2016 have denied CBD’s claims and validated the Project’s approvals and environmental review in their entirety. The Company issued the following statement upon learning of CBD’s new case against the federal government:
“The Cadiz Water Project is a California environmentally-reviewed, approved and judicially-validated project that will safely and sustainably provide new water for 400,000 people and bring jobs and economic opportunity to local labor, veteran and disadvantaged communities without harm to the environment.
The Center for Biological Diversity and its co-litigants have lost every case they have previously brought challenging this safe and sustainable project, and have now put themselves in the incredible and untenable position of opposing the safest, most environmentally sensitive route for our pipeline – a disturbed existing active railroad corridor – in their naked attempt to delay water and jobs for Southern California.
The action of the Interior Department last month rescinded a controversial 2015 evaluation of the Project’s proposed use of a railroad right-of-way for its pipeline by the previous administration. The flawed 2015 evaluation was widely opposed by Democrat and Republican members of Congress, railroads, labor, agriculture and infrastructure companies, because it failed to apply the law and broke with long-standing federal policy encouraging less impactful co-location of infrastructure in railroad right of ways.
The new evaluation issued by the US Bureau of Land Management in October 2017 correctly applied applicable law, returned to long-established federal policy and was widely supported. Rather than challenging this new determination – one which actually protects federal lands – CBD could be working with Project proponents to provide needed water and aquifer storage in Southern California and a host of environmental benefits. Instead, CBD is pursuing a flawed legal strategy that appears to only benefit its fundraising efforts.
We are not a party to this lawsuit and will not comment directly on the merits. Rather, we note that for nearly a decade CBD and its allies have made multiple factually unsupported claims about the Project that have been rejected by every public agency and Court of Law that has ever considered them. We expect the same outcome in this instance.”