Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement after the California Department of Fish and Wildlife notified Cadiz that it would not grant a necessary permit unless the project’s controversial assertions in its 2012 CEQA environmental review are reevaluated:
“Cadiz can’t hide behind its flawed environmental review any longer. The Department of Fish and Wildlife last week confirmed what I’ve said all along: Cadiz’s environmental review is scientifically insufficient and cannot be relied upon to justify this dangerous project. The aquifer Cadiz wants to exploit is vital to life in the Mojave Desert and should be left unharmed.
“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife analyzed recent scientific studies that show the aquifer Cadiz would drain is connected to neighboring desert springs, including Bonanza Spring, which sustains desert wildlife such as the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep. The agency also conducted its own research proving bighorn sheep utilize these affected springs.
“This is the latest independent agency to find that Cadiz’s plan would cause irreparable harm to the Mojave Desert. Both the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service previously found the natural recharge rate is only 2,000 to 10,000 acre-feet per year, well below the 50,000 acre-feet that Cadiz wants to drain.
“Cadiz has spent years pushing its faulty environmental review with the hope that government officials and private investors would be willing to overlook the project’s many flaws. Thankfully, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has called Cadiz’s bluff.”
The letter from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is available here and lays out the following issues with Cadiz’s environmental study:
- Cadiz’s 2012 Environmental Impact Report incorrectly concluded that nearby desert springs were hydrologically disconnected from the groundwater aquifer and that effects to desert bighorn sheep were less than significant.
- Several new studies demonstrate a hydrologic connection between the aquifer Cadiz wants to pump and nearby springs, including Bonanza Spring.
- Desert bighorn sheep, which are a legally protected species and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, utilize Bonanza Spring.
- The department determined that the Cadiz Project “may pose a substantially higher risk to the spring and desert bighorn sheep than the Project EIR disclosed” and that “further analysis and environmental review of these important issues will be necessary.”