House Passes Bill to Cutoff Funding for Water Supply Restrictions Imposed by Federal Wildlife Agencies

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1 (pdf), a spending bill, on February 19, 2011, that includes a rider to foreclose use of funds appropriated by Congress to implement Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs) developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to accompany biological opinions and jeopardy determinations made by those agencies under the federal Endangered Species Act regarding the ongoing operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project in California.  The biological opinions, jeopardy determinations, and RPAs presently are being challenged in multiple lawsuits brought in federal court.  Last year, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California held (pdf) that the FWS biological opinion (pdf) is unlawful, and the Court remanded the document to that agency.  Pending in the same Court are cross motions for summary judgment respecting the NMFS biological opinion (pdf).

The rider does not purport to amend the federal Endangered Species Act, and it also does not affect the California Endangered Species Act.  As a result, the water supply and species protection implications that would stem from enactment of the rider into law are unclear.

  • Paul S. Weiland
    Partner

    Paul Weiland is chair of Nossaman’s Environment & Land Use Group.  He focuses his practice on litigation, permitting, and compliance counseling.  Paul’s clients include public agencies, publicly regulated utilities, private ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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