A federal judge in Fresno today invalidated key parts of a plan to protect endangered winter- and sprint-run chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead species that migrate through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger's 279-page decision has similarities to a ruling last December on the threatened delta smelt, although this new ruling involves slightly different facts and challenges brought by the water users who depend on delta water.
Like the smelt decision, Tuesday's salmon and steelhead ruling likely will force the federal government to rewrite the plan -- known as a biological opinion -- for the second time in three years.
Wanger's decision, however, was a mixed bag -- even though supporters of increased delta pumping are already hailing it as a great victory -- and is likely another skirmish in the long-running battle between environmentalists and urban and agricultural water users over the delta.
Fresno Bee, 9/20/11. This Volokh Conspiracy blog includes excerpts from Judge Wanger's comments from the bench harshly criticizing two of the government's scientist witnesses. Judge Wanger's opinion is available at the PLF's blog here.
NYTimes Green Blog, 9/21/11, "More Interior Scientists Are Taking Heat"
Washington Examiner, 9/22/11, "Angry Federal Judge Rips 'False Testimony' Of Federal Scientists"