Court Prevents Trump Administration from Eliminating Important Fish Protections During May 2020

On May 11, 2020, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California granted in part a preliminary injunction requested by fishing and environmental groups represented by Altshuler Berzon LLP in PCFFA v. Ross, E.D. Cal. Case No. 1:20-cv-00431-DAD-EPG.  

The Court ruled that the Trump administration’s new water project operations in California’s Delta, which include the elimination of an important protection for fish species, would cause irreparable harm to threatened Central Valley steelhead.  Specifically, the Court analyzed a measure called the San Joaquin River Inflow to Export ratio, which had been in place since 2009 but was eliminated by the Trump administration in 2019, and which had limited pumping and water exports out of the Delta in April and May, a time when juvenile salmon and steelhead migrate through the Delta and out to the Pacific Ocean.  Based on expert testimony and record evidence presented by plaintiffs, the Court determined that operating without this protective measure for the remainder of May 2020 would cause irreparable harm to the threatened steelhead population.

Having found that plaintiffs had established irreparable harm and serious questions on the merits of their claims, the Court ordered the Bureau of Reclamation to comply with the previously required Inflow to Export ratio protective measure for the remainder of May.