The California Assembly passed and sent legislation (SB 307) to Governor Newsom today, which will require new and independent environmental review of the proposed Cadiz Inc. groundwater mining project that threatens parks, wildlife and sacred tribal lands in the Mojave Desert. The legislation, authored by Senator Richard Roth and passed under the leadership of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, would prevent the Cadiz Inc. or other desert water export proposals from advancing potentially harmful groundwater mining projects without state review, verifying that no adverse impacts would occur to desert waters, wildlife and lands.
SB 307 protects life sustaining water sources found within Mojave National Preserve and Mojave Trails National Monument, two of California’s most ecologically fragile parks, by authorizing state agency oversight in response to recent federal deregulatory actions by the Trump administration. Defenders of Wildlife and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and are among the numerous environmental organizations that have supported the bill, alongside a broad range of water agencies, community and tribal leaders, elected officials, former Park Service officials, and others.
“By passing SB 307, the California legislature has sent a message to the Trump administration that science matters and will not be ignored when it comes to protecting our national treasures from the reckless Cadiz groundwater mining project,” David Lamfrom, California Desert and Wildlife Director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “For the first time, Cadiz will be subject to independent scientific review, which will no doubt prove that the numbers previously used by the company just don’t add up. Senator Richard Roth is a desert, national park and water defender for authoring this legislation to ensure that desert groundwater pumping can serve long-term needs of our wild lands, local communities and businesses.”
“The Legislature has made it clear that the era of driving California’s aquifers into overdraft conditions is over and emphasizes the importance of managing these aquifers sustainably for the future,” said Kim Delfino, California Program Director for Defenders of Wildlife. “SB 307 will protect our state’s fragile wildlife that rely on these desert lands for their survival, including the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep. The bill will create a definitive process for the state to assess proposals to export desert groundwater to other areas of the state to ensure that our aquifers remain sustainably managed and our desert lands and wildlife continue to thrive.”
"As an organization that believes in science, we are thrilled to see the legislature pass SB 307 in an effort to protect our desert lands," said Kate Hoit, Vet Voice Foundation's California State Director and OIF veteran. "Cadiz Inc. lacks the credible science to demonstrate that its groundwater mining project can move forward without causing significant harm to the environment, communities, and recreational opportunities cherished by veterans. We thank fellow veteran Senator Richard Roth (Major General, Ret.) for leading the way and applaud him on this tremendous victory for veterans."
Key provisions, facts and benefits of the bill:
• Protects important federal and state lands, including Mojave National Preserve and Mojave Trails National Monument.
• Passage marks the culmination of a multi-year commitment, originally started by Assemblymember Laura Friedman who carried similar legislation in 2017 and 2018.
• SB 307 is authored by Senator Richard Roth (Riverside), principal co-authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (Glendale) and Senator Anthony Portantino (La Cañada Flintridge), and co-authored by Assemblymembers Ben Allen (Santa Monica), Todd Gloria (San Diego), Marc Levine (Marin County), Luz Rivas (Arleta) and Mark Stone (Monterey Bay)
• Requires the State Lands Commission, in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Water Resources, to find no adverse impacts from proposed water export projects from this region, such as Cadiz, before groundwater pumping can be authorized.
• Provides a 15-24 month timeframe for the review to be completed upon submittal of an application by the project proponent.
• Protects a desert national park tourism economy that in 2018 alone generated $436 million dollars in economic output in local communities, created over 4,100 sustainable jobs, and generated over $161 million in labor income.
• Reconciles the science. For the first time, Cadiz must undergo environmental review by an entity that is independent and not a project beneficiary.