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9th Circuit Water Ruling Puts Fish Over People

From a cheering Reuters:

In drought-stricken California, court rules smelt fish get water

By Dan Levine | March 13, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A California appeals court sided with environmentalists over growers on Thursday and upheld federal guidelines that limit water diversions to protect Delta smelt, in a battle over how the state will cope with its worst drought in a century.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court should not have overturned recommendations that the state reduce exports of water from north to south California. The plan leaves more water in the Sacramento Delta for the finger-sized fish and have been blamed for exacerbating the effects of drought for humans.

Reaction from both sides was swift in the national political issue. In a blog post, Damien Schiff, an attorney for growers, said the ruling "bodes ill for farmers, farm laborers and millions of other Californians dependent on a reliable water supply."

Efforts to save the Delta smelt, which lives only in the wetlands stretching north of San Francisco, have been described as a humans versus fish battle…

Well, how else would you describe it?

At issue is a 2008 report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which concluded that the fish’s existence was threatened and recommended limited exports of water to farmers and southern California. Farmers and allies sued, and a lower court called the federal biological opinion "arbitrary and capricious."

However, in the opinion on Thursday, 9th Circuit Judge Jay Bybee ruled that the lower court should have been more deferential to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Bybee, an appointee of President George W. Bush, is considered a consistent conservative voice on the 9th Circuit.

The same thing could be said of Josef Stalin, if he were on the bench there.

"We recognize the enormous practical implications of this decision," Bybee wrote. "But the consequences were prescribed when Congress determined that ‘these species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people.’" …

Unlike, say food. Which isn’t important at all.

Thursday’s ruling could also pave the way for a ruling in a pending case involving the water needs of wild salmon and steelhead trout in the state, which involves many of the same players. A February hearing on that case was postponed until after the Delta smelt decision was handed down…

So the smelts are just the beginning.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, March 14th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “9th Circuit Water Ruling Puts Fish Over People”

  1. canary

    The DOJ going after Bybee in 2009 over the enhanced interrogation of terrorists 2002 costing millions of dollars in legal council, made a deal that he would defend fishes and animal rights over people’s rights for the rest of his career, or could it be that Bybee wants to aid liberals in torturing people to starve to death and live in poverty. Shame on him, he knows nothing about the environment and that humans are at the top of the food chain.


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