Lawsuits from Earth and the Astro Plane

Two environmental lawsuits about water, both including the California Environmental Quality Act,  one from the Earth, the other from the Astro Plane Where Flak Comes From.
Westlands Water District -- who else? -- is the respondent in one and the concealed petitioner in the other. -- blj
Maven's Notebook


This just in … Lawsuit Filed Against 10 – Year Water Transfer Program; Massive Transfers Threaten North State Farms, Fish and Communities
From AquAlliance, this press release:
AquAlliance filed a lawsuit in federal District Court against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) over their inadequate disclosure, avoidance of impacts, and mitigation of major water transfers from the Sacramento Valley through the Delta to the San Joaquin Valley.
USBR and SLDMWA (Agencies) approved a 10-Year Water Transfer Program (Program) that could send up to 600,000 acre-feet of Sacramento Valley water south of the Delta – each year. When combined with additional state approved transfers, the total could be over 800,000 acre-feet each year. If history is any guide, half of the transfer water may come from groundwater substitution. Although widely opposed by NorthState residents and local government, the Agencies moved forward approving the use of groundwater substitution, fallowing, reservoir releases, and conservation to make the transfers possible. The Agencies proposed a thin veneer for mitigating impacts that depends only on monitoring the stressed hydrologic systems (groundwater, streams, and rivers) to produce data that will be reviewed in the future by USBR and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).
The lawsuit asks the court to declare that the Agencies’ Environmental Impact Statement/Report was arbitrary and capricious, ignored relevant new information and failed to meet minimum requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Agencies failed to fully disclose the impacts from the Program and the numerous unknown or changing conditions that currently exist, such as where/how groundwater will be recharged and how the Program will further inhibit the USBR’s ability to meet Delta flow and water quality standards that have already been weakened multiple times in 2014 and 2015. The EIS/EIR also reached conclusions based on faith, making the assumption that existing groundwater depletions compounded by the Program might recover during future wet years. 3
AquAlliance Executive Director Barbara Vlamis explained, “Draining the last, relatively healthy watershed as a last ditch effort to prop up a failing system is madness. This Program will strain the Sacramento River Watershed and the Delta facilitating the continued abuses of growers in the western San Joaquin Valley who have already destroyed their own watershed. Let’s call it what it is – a water-grab that will exacerbate severe impacts already caused by water exports to agricultural interests with junior water rights that chose to plant permanent crops in a desert.”
AquAlliance has been joined by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and they are represented by the Aqua Terra Aeris law firm. Co-plaintiffs in the litigation also include Central Delta Water Agency, Local Agencies of the North Delta, and South Delta Water Agency that are represented by the Soluri Meserve law firm.
AquAlliance is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit public benefit corporation established to defend northern California waters and to challenge threats to the hydrologic health of the northern Sacramento River watershed to sustain family farms, communities, creeks and rivers, native flora and fauna, vernal pools and recreation.




Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability
Statement from CESAR Board President on Suit Filed To Require CEQA on Delta Barrier
CESAR asked the Courts to stop DWR from constructing a rock barrier in the Delta, until the agency has complied with the requirements of California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Yesterday, the State of California began constructing a rock dam that would redirect tidal saltwater from one part of the Delta to another.  This action could severely affect the availability of water to millions of Californians.  Moreover, the water in the Delta that will be subject to increased saltwater intrusion as a result of the rock dam is essential fish habitat and also critical habitat for the delta smelt and is protected under two biological opinions.  Delta smelt, green sturgeon and several protected salmon rely on that water.  And yet, DWR failed to notice Californians of the consequences of this significant environmental action.  Instead the Department moved ahead without the benefit of a CEQA analysis, or public notice and participation.

CESAR’s concerns are twofold.  First, the State is acting outside state environmental law, ignoring the requirement for public notice and consideration of alternatives.  Second, the actions being undertaken by the state will increase salinities in portions of the delta and unnecessarily reduce water supplies for the entire state.  While the State claims this is an emergency situation, in fact, these circumstances were considered in the delta smelt biological opinion in 2008.  Further, the state has been discussing these barriers for over a year.  

Instead, the DWR has ignored CEQA, the Endangered Species Act and the public in its precipitous move to construct these barriers.   California’s current water woes are largely the result of the requirements of biological opinions affecting the Delta being imposed without the benefit of environmental review.  Now the state is proceeding in exactly the same way, undertaking actions without public environmental review which will occur right where most of the delta smelt have been found this year, in essential fish habitat and critical habitat.  In addition, the actions being implemented by DWR will have an effect on water supplies for the entire state, not just the Delta water users.  An action of this magnitude, which will affect both water supplies throughout the state and essential habitat, must be subject to a full environmental review at both the state and federal levels, to avoid even more catastrophic water shortages for both the species and citizens that rely on the water.  
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The Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability (CESAR) is a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation committed to identifying fact based science to assist in conservation of species, ensuring the application of environmental laws and providing information on environmental conservation to the public, policy makers, and staff at regulatory agencies. CESAR is committed to the use of data and the scientific method to ensure consistent application of environmental statutes throughout all industries and all sectors

CESAR is designed to move conservation into the twenty-first century. There is currently a good structure for protecting our environment through various laws, including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). CESAR believes it is time to insure those laws are applied using a body of factual information which can be applied to accurately and reliably identify problems and solutions. In time this ultimately creates an ethos that supports approaches which clearly and completely articulate fact based policy solutions that are effective for both the species and the humans who rely on the same resources. CESAR products are designed to identify and use science that is the best available and complies with the requirements of the Information Quality Act (IQA) Guidelines. CESAR products are designed to aid those participating in conservation efforts for listed species. This includes regulatory agencies as well as commenters on proposed agency actions, litigators challenging regulatory actions inconsistent with law and state agencies reviewing the adequacy of federal proposals.

Americans are prepared to pay for environmental protection. But, failures harm the species, their habitats, and reduce support for conservation efforts. CESAR believes that fact based hypothesis tested science results in conservation actions that provide results for the species and pathways for sustainable use by society. Science based on guesses or ‘best professional judgment’ can result in errors that bring environmental, societal, and economic catastrophe in their wake.

CESAR Was Established In 2008 With A Commitment To:
•Ensure full, sustained and rational enforcement of environmental laws, particularly, the ESA.
•Ensure that application of these laws is justified based on data and analysis rather than speculation, surmise or opinion.

CESAR relies on a science team consisting of published researchers and subject matter experts.
CESAR scientific reviews are completed in an atmosphere which ensures participating scientists are free to conduct scientific work with the emphasis on ensuring absolute rigor and complete transparency, rather than a focus on outcome. CESAR’s only requirement is that all conclusions must be supported by data.
It is a CESAR’s policy to have a fire-wall in place between scientists and funders. This safeguards ensures that our scientists are independent and do not feel pressured to produce a particular out-come.
CESAR posts all references, data, and analysis on line to ensure a transparent process. Individual scientists write their conclusions and an executive summary is prepared. All information is posted. Once CESAR scientific reports are complete the results are posted on line and are available to everyone at no charge.


CRAIG MANSON is General Counsel of Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water agency in the United States. Westlands serves more than 650,000 acres on the west side of California’s San Joaquin Valley. Manson became General Counsel in May 2010.
Manson has had a distinguished a career in law, academia, and government. A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, he later was selected for the Air Force Funded Legal Education Program and attended The University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. Manson graduated with great distinction from McGeorge in 1981 where he was Editor-in-Chief of the law review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

Manson served as an Air Force judge advocate overseas, at the Pentagon, and as Associate Professor of Law at the United States Air Force Academy. During his four year Academy professorship, he taught constitu-tional law, international law, space law and policy and was named outstanding Military Educator for 1989. He also was an adjunct professor at Webster University.

Leaving the active Air Force in 1989 Manson joined Downey Brand, a law firm with deep Central Valley agri-cultural roots that is now Sacramento’s largest law firm. Following that engagement, he was appointed as the first person ever to be General Counsel of the California Department of Fish and Game. Five years later, the Governor of California appointed Manson to the Superior Court bench in Sacramento County. Manson re-signed his judgeship in February 2002 to accept the President’s appointment as Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife & Parks in the U.S. Department of the Interior. In that position, he oversaw the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. The President also appointed him to be United States Commissioner on the joint U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Fisheries Commission. Manson held these positions concurrently until December 31, 2005.

From 2006 to 2010, Manson was Distinguished Professor and Lecturer in Law at the Capital Center for Public Law and Policy at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. From 2006 to 2008, Manson was senior policy advisor to the Washington, D.C., office of Hunton & Williams.

Manson has been an invited lecturer at The University of Texas School of Law, University of California, Davis King Hall School of Law; Duke University; the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School at Montgomery, Alabama; the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the Bren School of Environmental Manage-ment of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Craig Manson is listed in Who's Who in America; Top Lawyers in California; and has maintained a Martindale-Hubble rating of AV (highest possible) for nearly thirty years.

A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Manson served a total of 34 years in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard, retiring in 2006 at the rank of Colonel. In 2004, he was named “Alumni of the Year” at McGeorge. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by John Marshall School of Law in Atlanta in 2005.

Education: Astronomy & Aeronautics, Monterey Peninsula College, 1971-72
B.S., United States Air Force Academy, 1976
Graduate Studies in Public Administration, University of Northern Colorado, 1977
J.D. (with Great Distinction), University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 1981 (Ed.-in- Ch., Pacific Law Journal; Order of the Coif)

Professional Experience:
2010-present: General Counsel, Westlands Water District, Fresno, California (office in Sacramento)
2008-present: Executive Director, Center for Environmental Science Accuracy & Reliability
2006-2010: Distinguished Professor and Lecturer in Law, Capital Center for Public Law & Policy, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento, California
2006-2008: Senior Policy Advisor, Hunton & Williams, Washington, D.C.
2002-2005: Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife & Parks, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
1998-2002: Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento
1993-1998: General Counsel, California Department of Fish and Game
1989-1993: Private Practice, Sacramento, California
1985-1989: Associate Professor of Law, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado
1988: Special Counsel for Arms Control, Space Law, and International Treaty Compliance, Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washingt on, D.C.
1984-1985: Defense Counsel, HQ U.S. Air Force Judiciary, Washington, D.C. (office at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, England)
1983-1984: Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, 513th Military Airlift Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England
1983: International Law Advisor/Evaluator, Combined Forces Command, United Nations Command, Osan Air Base, Korea
1982-1983: Chief Military Prosecutor, Davis- Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
1981-1982: Chief, Preventive Law & Legal Assistance, 836th Air Division, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona


Dr. Ramey earned his Bachelor's degree in Biology and Natural History from the University of California Santa Cruz, his Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from Yale University, and his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University. His postdoctoral experience included re-search at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the Center for Reproduc-tion of Endangered Species at the San Diego Zoo. He has a as Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, after which he served as a consulting Science Advisor to the Office of the As-sistant Secretary of Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of Interior. In 2007 he founded Wildlife Science International, Inc., and began consulting full time on scientific issues involving the Endangered Species Act. In 2009 he also began serving as Science Advisor for the Council for Endangered Species Act Reliability (CESAR).

Dr. Ramey has an active research program and regularly publishes the results of re-search in peer-reviewed journals. Recent projects include scientific issues surrounding the greater sage grouse, delta smelt, hookless cactus, desert bighorn sheep, killer whales, and African elephants. Dr. Ramey is a member of Caprinae Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Dr. Robert M. Zink holds the Breckenridge Chair in Ornithology, and is a Professor at the University of Minnesota, with Graduate Faculty Membership in Conservation Biology, and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. In 2005, he received the Brewster Medal from the Ameri-can Ornithologists’ Union, ( in recognition of his research contributions.

Dr. Zink’s primary research addresses evolutionary processes at the population and species level, and how these contribute to understanding how populations become differentiated, and ultimately lead to the origin of new species. He recognizes that much of this basic research has strong applied value, especially in the area of conservation. Much of his work involves molecular methods, especially DNA sequencing, although he has considerable experience with analysis of morphological features, and the relatively new field of eco-logical niche modeling. His conservation work involves using genetic data to explore the role and value of subspecies, distinct population segments, and to clarify species limits.

Dr. Zink has published studies on the endangered black-capped vireo and the threatened California gnatcatcher. In these studies, he has commented extensively on which types of molecular data are most appropriate for addressing whether populations qualify as distinct population segments. In the vireo, he and his colleagues concluded that the entire species is evolutionarily a single entity and should be man-aged as such. In the gnatcatcher, it was found that none of the taxonomic subspecies were valid, either from morphological or genetic standpoints. In addition, he found that populations in the coastal sage scrub were not ecologically differentiated, thereby leading to the conclusion that the species should be managed as a single evolutionary entity.

Subspecies have played a prominent role in biology, including conservation biology. However, in many birds and mammals, subspecies are often based on few specimens and few characteristics and their diagnosis is subjective. Dr. Zink’s molecular work has shown in many cases that subspecies are inappropriate units for conservation, owing mostly to the fact that they were based on single, idiosyncratically varying morphological features. His 2004 paper, which suggested that only about 5% of bird subspecies were valid, entitled “The role of subspecies in obscuring avian biological diversity and misleading conservation policy” has been cited 260 times.
Dr. Zink strives to interpret scientific data fairly and objectively. He began his career studying subspecies, but after much study, came to the unpopular viewpoint that they were not in most cases scientifically defensi-ble. Thus, his work reflects his conclusions about what the data actually say, not what others might want it to say.
Dr. Zink’s past and ongoing research is directly relevant to the question of whether genetic or morphological data support any significant evolutionary divisions within the Willow Flycatcher, whether these divisions are called subspecies or distinct population segments. .

Selected Publications 
Vazquez-Miranda, K. Barr and R.M. Zink. Manuscript. Fluctuating fire regimes and their historical effects on genetic variation in an endangered savanna specialist, the black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla).
Zink, R. M. J. Groth, H. Vazquez-Miranda, G. F. Barrowclough. 2013. Phylogeography of the California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica) using multilocus DNA sequences and ecological niche modeling: implications for conservation. Auk:
Zink, R. M. 2012. The geography of speciation: case studies from birds. Evolution: Education and Outreach. Published online 12 April 2012. 10.1007/s12052-012-0411-4.
Hung, C.-M., S. V. Drovetski, & R. M. Zink. 2012. Multilocus coalescence analyses support a mtdna-based phylogeo-graphic history for a widespread Palearctic passerine bird, Sitta europaea. Evolution 66-9: 2850–2864.
Zink, R. M., Jones A. W., Farquhar, C. C., Westberg, M. C., and Rojas, J. I. G. 2011. Endangered species management and the role of conservation genetics: A response to Barr et al. Auk 128:794–797.
Zink, R. M., Jones A. W., Farquhar, C. C., Westberg, M. C., and Rojas, J. I. G. 2010. Comparison of molecular markers in the endangered black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) and their interpretation in conservation. Auk 127:797−806.
Zink, R. M. & G. F. Barrowclough. 2008. Mitochondrial DNA under siege in avian phylogeography. Molecular Ecology 17:2107–2121.
Pavlova, A. S. Rohwer, S. V. Drovetski, and R. M. Zink. 2006. Different post-Pleistocene histories of Eurasian parids. Journal of Heredity 97:389–402.
Zink, R. M., A. Pavlova, S. V. Drovetski, & S. Rohwer. 2006. Barn swallows before barns: population histories and in-tercontinental colonization. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B. 273:1245-1251.
Zink, R. M., Drovetski, S. V., & Rohwer, S. 2006. Selective neutrality of mitochondrial ND2 sequences, phylogeography and species limits in Sitta europaea. Mole. Phylo. Evol. 40:679-686.
Zink, R.M., 2005. Natural selection on mitochondrial DNA in Parus and its relevance for phylogeographic studies. Pro-ceedings R. Soc. B. 272:71-78.
Pavlova, A., R.M. Zink, and S. Rohwer. 2005. Evolutionary history, population genetics, and gene flow in the common rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus) Mole. Phylo. Evol. 36 669–681.. Zink, R. M., J. Klicka, and B.R. Barber. 2004. The tempo of avian diversification during the Quaternary. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 359, 215-220.
Zink, R.M. 2004. The role of subspecies in obscuring biological diversity and misleading conservation policy. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B. 271:561-564.
Zink, R.M. 2002. Methods in comparative phylogeography, and their application to studying evolution in the North Ameri-can aridlands. Integrative and Comparative Biology 42:953-959.
Klicka, J. and R.M. Zink. 1997. The importance of recent ice ages in speciation: a failed paradigm. Science 277:1666-166
Bollibokka Fishing Club was founded in 1904 by the Hills family who owned Hills Brothers Coffee.  There were said to be 33 members of the club.   In 2007, the property was sold by the Hills family to Westlands Water District  (Fresno County) for $35 million.   Westlands bought the property to eliminate possible club resistance to the raising of Shasta Dam.    It is also reported that Westlands has sold some of the property to a developer.   Bollibokka Fishing Club is now managed by The Fly Shop in Redding and memberships are open to the public. --