On March 5, 2020, Altshuler Berzon LLP attorneys moved to preliminarily enjoin new water project operations and block environmental rollbacks adopted by the Trump Administration that will threaten the survival of multiple west coast fish species. Altshuler Berzon serves as lead counsel to a coalition of fishing groups (including the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Golden State Salmon Association) and conservation groups (including NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, and The Bay Institute). The new federal rollbacks are authorized by October 2019 Biological Opinions issued under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the National Marine Fisheries Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service and implement a campaign promise to loosen environmental rules made by Donald Trump in 2016 when he was campaigning for President in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The case is PCFFA v. Ross, N.D. Cal. Case No. 3:19-cv-07897-LB.
The motion for a preliminary injunction argues that the Biological Opinions are arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the ESA, and that if the US Bureau of Reclamation relies on them to increase its water diversions and water exports in California’s huge federal Central Valley Project, the result will be irreparable harm to winter run Chinook salmon and a number of other fish species that are already in dire shape. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for this spring. Numerous major water districts and irrigation interests have moved to intervene in the case on the side of the Trump Administration.