Administration moves to invalidate key permit for controversial Cadiz pipeline rushed through in final days of the previous administration
Twentynine Palms, CA – Today, the Biden administration defended precious California desert water and lands sacred to Tribes by taking action towards invalidating a pipeline permit for the Cadiz Inc. water mining proposal. The long-standing proposal would drain 16 billion gallons of water annually from an aquifer beneath Mojave Trails National Monument, Mojave National Preserve and lands that tribes have been using since time immemorial.
The decision responded to a federal court lawsuit filed by the Native American Land Conservancy and the National Parks Conservation Association, that challenged a water conveyance right-of-way permit issued for Cadiz in the last days of the Trump administration. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fast-tracked approval of the pipeline permit without legally required tribal consultation and review of the proposal’s environmental impacts on national parks, national monuments, and sacred sites.
“We thank the Biden administration for recognizing that tribal peoples in the California desert region depend greatly on their sacred ancestral lands and water sources for their spiritual and cultural practices and way of life,” said Michael J. Madrigal, President of the Native American Land Conservancy. “The Trump administration excluded tribes in order to help Cadiz, but today’s decision respects that our peoples have been here since the beginning of time and today we continue to visit, gather, and utilize these special areas in the desert for our cultural survival.”
In November 2020, the National Congress of American Indians adopted a resolution opposing the Cadiz project, joining numerous California desert tribes in this fight for indigenous rights and cultural survival.
“The decision to exclude tribes and park advocates in order to permit the Cadiz pipeline should never have happened to begin with, and it’s heartening to see the Biden administration right this wrong,” said Chris Clarke, Ruth Hammett Associate Director of the National Parks Conservation Association’s California Desert Program. “If Cadiz was allowed to use this pipeline to drain the desert of scarce groundwater, the damage to natural and cultural resources would be devastating and permanent. Granting Cadiz permission to use this pipeline without a hard look at the consequences for the environment or tribal culture was just flat out wrong.”
When the BLM acted to ensure the pipeline permit would be approved before the change in presidential administrations, it blocked legally required review by scientists at the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey. Federal scientists have previously found that Cadiz Inc. would extract up to 25 times more groundwater than is naturally recharged, severely damaging resources throughout the Mojave Desert. The water sources that Cadiz intends to tap sustain habitat for rare desert wildlife including tortoises and bighorn sheep.
Native American Land Conservancy and National Parks Conservation Association are represented in this lawsuit by the U.C. Irvine Environmental Law Clinic.
About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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