by Katy Grimes, E&E Legal Senior Media Fellow and California Globe Editor
As Appearing in the California Globe
A declaration of extinction would allow access to massive amounts of new water for families and farmers
California water expert Kristi Diener notified the Globe that a petition to request the Delta Smelt fish be declared extinct is going to be filed. Diener said this has never been done before, and currently there isn’t one single petition to have a species delisted under review in the United States.
The U.S. and California Departments of Fish and Wildlife have been put on the required 30-day notice, with the petition to follow.
Only four smelt have been collected since July 2018, after thousands of Department of Fish and Wildlife trawling surveys. Nonetheless, pumping water into storage is always throttled back about Jan – May when it is thought smelt could be migrating. The problem is, this is also during the Spring thaw, and we are not able to take full advantage of the snow melt before it meets the ocean. A declaration of extinction would allow us to access massive amounts of new water for families and farmers that is currently being squandered to the sea for smelt in which these government agencies have failed to save for nearly 30 years.
It’s past time to make these agencies defend themselves, the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars they fritter away, and the economic and environmental devastation needlessly taking place by dumping so much fresh water into the Pacific Ocean.
Chris Mathys, who will be running for the 21st Congressional District in 2022, currently held by Rep. David Valadao, has decided that instead of making campaign promises to bring us water like all the other candidates do, he will walk the walk before receiving a single vote. This is such an exciting and bold move!
In February 2020, President Donald Trump signed an order to divert water in northern California from the San Francisco Bay area to the Central Valley, following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s update of the Endangered Species Act, done to bring much needed water to agriculture and growers in California’s Central Valley. As this process was underway, the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom took their own shot over Trump’s bow with Senate Bill 1, the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019, which would send billions of gallons of water out to the Pacific Ocean ostensibly to save more fish, while farmers and ranchers were starved for water, even in maximum rainfall years.