These letters are exactly what I’d expect for something coming from Feinstein, which is to say, totally fucked up. That woman hasn’t improved a water policy in my adult memory. Cannot wait until she’s gone.
Anyway, they’re two parallel letters, one to the feds and one to the state, saying time is running out, they better find some way to cooperate on the different ways to run the pumps in the federal biological opinion and the state incidental take permit. However, the letters are asymmetrical, with more pressure on CA to conform to the federal permit and while they’re at it, to get those voluntary agreements done.
It is absolutely terrible advice to do anything permanent based on the federal biological opinion, for several reasons.
- It, like most Trump environmental regulation, is likely to get overturned in court. This is especially true of a biological opinion that career staff said would kill fish in June, then they were replaced, and then the new biological opinion in the fall said it would be fine!
- It is now looking extremely likely that Trump and his administration will be gone in 9 months. There is absolutely no reason to lock in to any policy or agreement based on any of Trump’s works. What would California say next February when science-based policy returns to feds and California is the only party locked into some Trump/Bernhardt bullshit?
- If the VA’s must be based on the Trump biological opinion, what happens when a court invalidates the Bi-Op for being arbitrary and capricious? Are the VA’s then invalid? Will they be negotiated so they can be enforced for the 2015 federal and state fish protections?
Californian state administrators! Do not “coordinate” anything with the Trump administration right now. They’re lame ducks, nearly gone. Especially do not commit to anything that would bind you in the future. Why would you do that now, at the (hopefully) lowest ebb of federal water protection? Wait it out. The Trump administration is incredibly discredited; their science-blind worldview is visibly crumbled. The world could look extremely different in less than a year; doing anything permanent or binding now is a terrible plan. It is clear why Bernhardt wants to make his works permanent, here at the (likely) end of his administration. California should not go along with that.
MORE: Last time Feinstein didn’t like a Biological Opinion (when it got more protective), she had the National Academy of Science review it. This time, when it is farcically less protective, she’s all “GET YOUR VOLUNTARY AGREEMENTS DONE AND COORDINATE!!1!1!!!”