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Congress Steps Up Support for Cadiz Water Project

A bipartisan group of 18 Congressional Representatives from eight states has signed a letter urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – who was confirmed yesterday – to withdraw a controversial Bureau of Land Management (BLM) determination that is holding up the Cadiz Water Project. The letter states, 

“We believe that a fair evaluation of the project would have led to very different conclusion: that the project is indeed within the scope of the right-of-way authority and requires no further approval from BLM. Consequently, we respectfully request that you immediately withdraw BLM’s October 2, 2015, evaluation and BLM’s Instruction Memorandum relating to the ‘Evaluation of Activities within Railroad Rights-of-Way Granted under the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of March 3, 1875.’”

Despite legal precedents and irrefutable evidence of environmental benefits, the BLM determination reversed a longstanding and laudable federal policy supporting co-location of infrastructure in railroad rights-of-way. How BLM reached this conclusion is a mystery, since existing law and a Department of Interior Solicitor General opinion state that no BLM permitting is required if the use furthers a railroad purpose, at least in part, which Cadiz does.

The letter goes on to tell Zinke the benefits of reversing BLM’s action:

“These actions will directly create thousands of much-needed jobs and a desperately-needed new water supply in California.”

When operational, the Cadiz Water Project will capture and conserve water that currently evaporates from dry lakes in the Mojave Desert and transport it to Southern California water users via the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Colorado River Aqueduct. It is already authorized by the County of San Bernardino to pump an average of 50,000 acre-feet – enough for 400,000 people – a year for 50 years. 

The letter makes it clear that the Cadiz Water Project is very nearly shovel-ready:

“The project has undergone a rigorous environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, which found no significant environmental impacts. In addition, in May 2016, the California Court of Appeals issued a ruling affirming six California State Court judgments, validating the approvals and environmental review for the project in every regard.”

Signing the letter were Tom McClintock (R-CA 4th), Tony Cardenas (D-CA 29th), Rob Bishop (R-UT 1st), Sam Graves (R-MO 6th), Paul Cook (R-CA 8th), Jim Costa (D-CA 16th), Kurt Schrader (D-OR 5th), Duncan Hunter (R-CA 50th), Mimi Walters (R-CA 45th), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA 1st), Dana Rohrabache (R-CA 42nd)r, Ed Royce (R-CA 39th), Trent Franks (R-AZ 8th), Stevan Pearce (R-NM 2nd), Scott Peters (D-CA 52nd), Tom Cole (R-OK 4th), Paul Gosar (R-AZ 1st) and Scott Tipton (R-CO 3rd). 

Read the letter text here. Read the Cadiz, Inc. news release here.

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