California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
“Conserving California’s Fisheries"


More News

Your 501(c)(3) tax deductible cash donations are desperately needed if the fight for our fisheries is to continue. Read how you can donate!
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Enter your Email address to sign up 
for our Weekly Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust

More News


horizontal rule


Feds Put Brakes on 2-Gates Delta Experiment: Department of Interior Asks "Where's the Science?"


by Dan Bacher

January 16, 2010 -- Governmental scientific integrity made a comeback recently when the U.S. Department of Interior put the brakes on a bizarre experiment in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the 2-Gates Fish Demonstration Project, according to the Planning and Conservation League's "PCL Insider" newsletter of January 15.
Fishing, environmental, boating and Delta farm groups have challenged the proposal for posing an increased risk to Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations that are already in a state of unprecedented collapse, as well as providing a potential hazard to Delta navigation.
"The 2-Gates Fish Demonstration Project is being promoted by the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, an agricultural water user in the San Joaquin Valley, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California," The PCL Insider states. "Their project would attempt to lure endangered Delta smelt away from the deadly water pumping facilities in the southern Delta to continue the unsustainable export levels."
In a December 22nd letter, Interior refused to approve the 2-Gates proposal until the proponents address questions raised by federal agencies and independent science entities about the underlying scientific premise for the project.
"Based on our review, and in consideration of several factors, we have concluded that the underlying scientific premise of the project needs to be established before the project can go forward," said Donald Glazer, Regional Director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in his letter to Daniel Nelson, executive director of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority.
"This decision disrupts the proponents' efforts to avoid scrutiny of their project," says PCL. "The proponents had already obtained an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) through Governor Schwarzenegger's 2009 emergency drought proclamation and had prematurely secured federal funding for project implementation through omnibus federal budget bills."
As a result of the Interior decision, the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority has withdrawn the CEQA exemption for 2 Gates.
Representative Devin Nunes (R-Visalia), a strong opponent of Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley salmon and Delta smelt, wasn't upset that the project was shelved. "The Two Gates project is not a viable solution to the government imposed drought," he claimed. "It was used as political cover and to buy time for politicians who haven’t had the courage to stand up to radical environmentalists."
The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) harshly criticized the Two Gates Project in comments on the project's environmental review documents. Bill Jennings, executive director of CSPA, slammed the project for being "an increased water export scheme masquerading as science."
"Suggestions that conveyance be decoupled from the actual scientific experiment and that any positive effects serve to restore smelt abundance have been rejected," said Jennings. "The clear intent of the project is to increase water exports over limits imposed by Judge Wanger's Delta smelt decision and the federal biological opinion."
The CalFed Science Review Panel summary of the project backed up Jennings' assessment. “In short, the Two Gates Project aims to increase export levels above current levels set by recent legal opinions and currently extant biological opinions," the panel stated.
The Recreational Boaters Association of California also criticized the project over concerns that it will impede navigation on the Delta.
“At issue regarding this project is the long standing policy principle of RBOC to keep the navigable waters of California open and accessible to recreational boating,” stated Dave Breninger, RBOC President. “In this instance, this appears to have not been taken fully into consideration by Cal-Fed in designing the 2-Gates Project.”
PCL emphasizes that Interior's actions demonstrate the "problems inherent" in the Governor's wide-reaching drought proclamation.
"Without vetting the scientific assumptions of the 2-Gates proposal, which the proponents failed to do, it's impossible to determine whether the project will help mitigate the environmental impacts of the drought, a condition for qualifying for the exemption," the group stated. "By complying with Interior's request, the proponents can help determine if the project will actually protect the environment and therefore warrant use of scarce taxpayer dollars."
The 2-Gates project has been shelved, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Metropolitan Water District and corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley continue to campaign for the construction of a peripheral canal and Temperance Flat and Sites reservoirs. The peripheral canal would cost from $23 billion to $53.8 billion at a time when California is in its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The canal will expedite the export of Delta water to drainage impaired land on the valley's west side and southern California and is likely to lead to the extinction of imperiled Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and southern resident killer whales, according to canal opponents.
For more information, go to the PCL website: http://www.PCL.org