Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement after the California state Senate shelved a bill that would have required meaningful environmental review of the Cadiz water extraction project:
“I’m tremendously disappointed that the California state Senate killed a bill that would have helped prevent the destruction of the Mojave Desert.
“The bill that was blocked Friday night would have required independent state agencies to review water extraction projects and certify they won’t harm desert aquifers, a process that would have applied to the Cadiz project. The bill wasn’t held up because it was bad legislation or lacked the votes to pass, it was blocked because Cadiz is throwing its money around.
“The history is simple: For years Cadiz has tried to bypass independent environmental review in order to pump billions of gallons of water from a key aquifer under the Mojave Desert – and for years we’ve blocked that dangerous, irresponsible plan. But now, with the Trump administration in Cadiz’s back pocket, the company is trying to buy its way to victory.
“Cadiz wants to extract 50,000 acre-feet of water each year from an aquifer that abuts the Mojave Trails National Monument and other pristine land. That’s a total of 16 billion gallons they want to pump each year for 50 years.
“Government agencies tell us that’s simply not sustainable, that it would irreparably harm the desert. The U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service both say the recharge rate for the aquifer is between 2,000 to 10,000 acre-feet per year, which means removing 50,000 acre-feet annually just isn’t viable.
“What’s at stake? The bighorn sheep. The desert tortoise. The iconic Joshua tree and beautiful fields of wildflowers. Black-tailed jackrabbits, eagles, mountain lions and ravens. Mule deer, bobcats, bats, hawks, even the roadrunner. Even local economies that rely on the desert are at risk.
“The desert is teeming with wildlife and plants, but take away the water and you kill the desert.
“With the Trump administration toeing the line set by rich corporations, next steps to block this project will be difficult.
“We need the state legislature to step up. The Assembly passed this bill last week by a vote of 50-23, and I believe there were enough votes in the Senate to do the same. But legislative leadership has to have the courage to take action.
“I’ll do all I can in the U.S. Senate to fight Cadiz every step of the way. And I encourage all Californians to step up and make their voices heard. Call your representatives in the Assembly and state Senate and tell them to just say no to Cadiz. We can’t let companies with deep pockets destroy the environment. It’s too important to remain silent.”