Yesterday the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced it filed yet another lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) – this time to obtain the release of documents about the Cadiz Water Project from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In announcing its lawsuit, CBD also took the opportunity to repeat previously discredited allegations about the Cadiz Water Project, the Project’s record of public agency approval and our commitment to environmental sustainability.
The CBD has earned its reputation as a “litigation happy organization”; its legal department is five times larger than its science wing, with an estimated 49 lawyers and paralegals on staff, far outweighing the organization’s science department comprised 10 employees. Today’s lawsuit is the third lawsuit which they attribute to the Cadiz Water Project filed in the last six months.
This lawsuit becomes the 65th lawsuit the organization has pending against the Trump Administration but CBD also had dozens of active lawsuits against the Obama Administration as well. Congress has previously investigated CBD’s actions and found that from 2009-2012 CBD and its surrogates collected more than $2.3 million dollars in legal fees from the federal government under “private settlements” related to challenges of the Endangered Species Act alone.
With regard to the lawsuit announced yesterday, we look forward to reviewing these and other materials as soon as they are available. We also continue to await the result of our own outstanding FOIA request so we that we can better understand the role CBD and others may have played in BLM’s controversial 2015 evaluation of the Project’s planned use of an active private right-of-way.
CBD’s pattern of filing suits and issuing press releases about the Project ignores basic facts: Congress was responsible for the reversal of the 2015 BLM evaluation in multiple forums over many months. In the end it was a bipartisan vote of Congress, not the Trump Administration, that removed the primary federal barrier to the Project, also known as the “Feinstein rider,” that had created a unique certification, essentially a bill of attainder, creating a process only applicable to the Cadiz Project.
The Cadiz Water Project will conserve water presently lost to evaporation to create a new reliable water supply and groundwater storage in accordance with all local, state and federal laws. The Project’s review and approval have been repeatedly upheld by unanimous opinions in California’s Courts against “all-comers” and specifically CBD.