you’ve heard that the third time’s the charm, but, if you are a supporter of the Cadiz Water Project which is facing its third attack from the California legislature in the last three years, you might have a different opinion.
This time the weapon of choice is Senate Bill 307, identical to SB 120, authored by Senator Richard Roth, (D-Corona). It cleared the Senate Appropriations suspense file May 16th opening the door for passage in the Senate, which came quickly on May 21st with a 21 to 11 vote, (six senators ducked this hot potato, voting present). Now it’s on its way to the General Assembly.
Senator Roth, a lawyer, and retired Air Force Reserve Major General, is lionized by the permanent environmental lobby in the state capitol. The bill rolls back existing government (state and federal) public process including approval under the torturous California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
There is no time limit
In the place of this process, SB 307 substitutes endless rounds of investigations by a triumvirate of more state agencies including the State Lands Commission, in consultation with California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Water Resources.
Even Democratic leaders, like Senator Bob Hertzberg, (DVan Nuys) asked Roth to build in some time frame for this new process, “in the interest of fairness.”
The Southern California Partnership for Jobs met with Senator Roth, raising the specter of precedent—if this bill is successful in stopping Cadiz, there will be little to stop others from going after other projects, including highways dams, etc—an argument he rejected.
We support the Cadiz Project because of all the jobs it will provide. Jose Mejia, LIUNA Director, outlined in a letter sent to Anthony Portantino, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee before SB 307 slipped out of “suspense” saying:
“The immediate benefits for the region’s economy offered by the project are significant. The construction of the project’s facilities, including a wellfield and 43-mile steel pipeline, would generate more than $878 million in local economic activity and infuse nearly $40 million in new tax revenue for local governments. The project will create 5,900 construction-related jobs and 900 ongoing maintenance jobs.”
We’re not giving up, but neither are environmental groups like the Washington D.C-based National Parks Conservation Association which is leading the charge against the Cadiz project. It’s appropriate that a D.C. group would pay so much attention to this little desert aquifer since much of the opposition comes from the total war against the Trump Administration.
By Dave Sorem, P.E., ECA Government Affairs Chairman email: [email protected]