9th Circuit denies review, amends an important sentence, on Salton Sea ruling



By Martha Bridegam


The Ninth Circuit on Friday stood by its May 19 decision to uphold a sale of Colorado River water to San Diego that could leave a broader ring of dry shores around the Salton Sea — despite arguments that resulting dust could harm air quality.

Judge Andrew Hurwitz, joined by Paul Watford and William Smith, made minor amendments to his May opinion, primarily to clarify that Imperial County and the State of California do not receive Colorado River water under their own contracts with the Secretary of the Interior. Friday’s document revised a statement on the nature of the contracts to read:

“Imperial Irrigation, not the Secretary, ultimately controls the allocation of the water that it receives (subject, of course, to existing laws and contractual obligations.)”

The National Law Journal‘s Amanda Bronstad wrote in May at http://bit.ly/1o9pZlT that the court’s prior version of that sentence drew praise from an attorney with the Imperial County Air District, which was otherwise a loser in the case.

It then read, “Imperial Irrigation, Imperial County, and the State of California, not the secretary, will ultimately determine how to allocate the water they receive. If they so choose, they could allocate every acre foot of their Colorado River water to the Salton Sea.”

Per the Journal, Attorney Alene Taber viewed the May version of the sentence as signifying “that the secretary’s authority ends when the water is delivered at Imperial Dam and Parker Dam, and that the secretary does not decide how the water is allocated.”

The August 1 ruling refused both a request for reconsideration and a request for hearing en banc. The case is People of the State of California ex rel. Imperial County Air Pollution Control District v. U.S. Department of the Interior.

The new decision document is athttp://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/08/01/12-55856.pdf.

For more detail see http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3494.