Senate Bill 1 by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins proposes dangerous changes to how the state implements the Endangered Species Act (ESA) which will have a devastating impact to farmers, rural and urban communities, and our ecosystem unless amended.
The bill seeks to preserve environmental regulations against perceived rollbacks by the Trump Administration by empowering state agencies to immediately adopt the “baseline” standard in place before January 19, 2017 (the day before President Trump was inaugurated).
The most concerning section of the SB 1 deals with the ESA. As currently written, SB 1 would lock-in the existing biological opinions that determine how much water must flow out of the Delta to protect native fish species. This directly influences how much water is available to ALL water users South of the Delta.
The current biological opinions rely on decade-old science that assumes the only way to save endangered native fish is to increase delta flows. But despite increasing the flows, endangered fish populations have continued to plummet. This is why the Obama Administration initiated the process to update the biological opinions to incorporate newly available science.
The State and Federal agencies are currently in the process of updating the biological opinions, which will result in lower flows and more water for communities and agriculture.
Unless amended, SB 1 will undo years of research into adaptive management, flows, and habitat restoration. Further, unless amended the bill will jeopardize the important balance between the state and federal governments that enables water delivers to all California and for many beneficial uses.
California Citrus Mutual and many other agricultural and business-sector groups have proposed constructive amendments to address these concerns.
The legislature has returned from Summer Recess and SB 1 will be acted on in Assembly Appropriations in the next couple of weeks. Your Assembly Member and State Senator need to hear from you. Click here to send a letter to your representatives asking them to support amendments to the ESA section in SB 1.