On Wednesday 8/27/2014, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill in Fresno denied a request by irrigation suppliers Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority in California’s Central Valley to stop emergency water releases ordered by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that are intended to prevent another fish kill on the Klamath River. Westlands is the largest supplier of water for agricultural use in the U.S..
SALLY JEWELL, as Secretary of the U.S.
Department of the Interior; U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; U.S.
BUREAU OF RECLAMATION; MICHAEL L.
CONNOR, as Commissioner, Bureau of
Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior;
and DAVID MURRILLO, as Regional Director,
Mid-Pacific Region, Bureau of Reclamation,
U.S. Department of the Interior,
THE HOOPA VALLEY TRIBE; PACIFIC
COAST FEDERATION OF FISHERMEN’S
ASSOCIATIONS; and INSTITUTE FOR
IV. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The Court concludes that, even though Plaintiffs are likely to (and in all likelihood soon will) succeed on the merits of at least one of their claims against Reclamation in connection with the 2013 FARs, the balance of the harms does not warrant an injunction at this time. Even if the Court were prepared immediately to issue a final ruling on the merits in favor of Plaintiffs, an injunction would not be automatic. The potential harm to the Plaintiffs from the potential, but far from certain, loss of added water supply in 2015 does not outweigh the potentially catastrophic damage that “more likely than not” will occur to this year’s salmon runs in the absence of the 2014 FARs.
Plaintiffs’ TRO/PI Motion is DENIED.
NOTE: Federal Defendants are hereby on notice that the Court will view future FARs (and requests to enjoin them) in light of all the circumstances, including the fact that Federal Defendants repeatedly have treated as “emergency” circumstances that appear to merit a consistent, reasoned, policy rationale. All involved deserve a reasonable opportunity to challenge any such rationale, and all interested, including the Court, deserve to be able to give to these issues “the time and attention [they] deserve.” San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Auth. v. Jewell, 747 F.3d 581, 606 (9th Cir. 2014). Failure to heed this notice may disappoint Defendants in future orders.