Friday, 23 September 2011

Judge Wanger rips false testimony of Delta Smelt scientists, refocuses on law calling for balance with people.

Judge Oliver Wanger
Federal Judge, Oliver Wanger, found California smelt and salmonid testimony from Department of the Interior scientists to be:  "False, contradictory, misleading ... in bad faith .... an attempt to mislead and to deceive the court.."  And this: "The suggestion by Dr. Norris that the failure to implement [her plan], that that's going to end the delta smelt's existence on the face of our planet is false, it is outrageous, it is contradicted by her own testimony".  He also threw out much of the regulators' guidance document on five other fish species as "arbitrary, capricious and unlawful".

He is right to be angry because he was the judge persuaded in 2007 to issue the original diversion order cutting contracted water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 35% and is now, on the eve of his retirement, backing away from that judgement.

Interior's mealy-mouthed reply in the NYT defending Norris and Feyrer says: "We stand behind the consistent and thorough findings by our scientists on these matters and their dedicated use of the best available science." That's bafflegab.      Source: Washington Examiner column and p. 30 article.

The Delta Smelt decision, redirecting water away from people towards minnows, ignored the NEPA law itself which has two parts.  Part one calls for balancing and part two calls for penalties.   Part one was ignored.  The sad results are re-summarized:
"By diverting more fresh water for the delta smelt, federal officials reduce the amount available for people on farms and in cities. California's Central Valley was long among the nation's richest agricultural areas, producing fruits and vegetables shipped to grocery shelves across the country. Increased water diversion under President Obama and Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, however, has wreaked Depression-like economic havoc on the region, costing thousands of jobs, increasing food prices nationwide, and destroying a way of life for many California farm families. Unemployment in some areas of the valley has reached 40 percent".
For balance, Judge Wanger says: "The first purpose listed in the statute (NEPA) (establishes) "a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment." Earlier he had observed: "Federal defendants completely abdicated their responsibility to consider reasonable alternatives that would not only protect the species, but would also minimize the adverse impact on humans and the human environment."

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