Attorney General Becerra Files Motion for Preliminary Injunction in Lawsuit Challenging the Trump Administration’s Unlawful Actions to Endanger California’s Ecosystems

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Environmental Protection Agency, today filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration's unlawful expansion of federal water export operations in the Central Valley. Today's filing argues that the diversion of water in accordance with the Trump Administration’s revised biological opinions will cause imminent and irreparable harm to species protected under the California Endangered Species Act and the federal Endangered Species Act. 

“The Trump Administration is recklessly endangering California’s ecosystem and depleting irreplaceable natural resources,” said Attorney General Becerra. “As we speak, some of California’s most endangered species are being pushed closer to extinction – and there is no way to turn back the clock once the damage is done. We are fighting to prevent the Trump Administration’s blatant disregard for science and the law before it permanently alters California’s environmental landscape.”

Attorney General Becerra, along with state partners, filed a lawsuit on February 20, 2020, challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to adopt scientifically deficient biological opinions that enable additional water exports from the San Joaquin Delta without providing adequate safeguards for endangered species. The lawsuit argues that the Trump Administration's actions violate the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to protect endangered species and their habitat in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds, including the San Joaquin Delta. 

In today’s filing, Attorney General Becerra argues that a preliminary injunction is necessary to prevent immediate and irreversible harm to California's ecosystem, particularly to California’s endangered Delta smelt, longfin smelt, and threatened steelhead trout. Attorney General Becerra asserts the Trump Administration’s operation of water pumps in the Delta under the biological opinions violates the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, because it has resulted, and will result, in the unlawful take of these fish species. Attorney General Becerra also amended the original complaint to include the claim that the Trump Administration's actions violate the federal Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act. 

Attorney General Becerra has unwaveringly defended California’s environment and protected species. On September 25, 2019, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of 18 attorneys general and the City of New York in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Endangered Species Act. Just over a year earlier, Attorney General Becerra, leading a coalition of seven attorneys general, filed a lawsuit challenging the Administration’s decision to roll back protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, endangering millions of migratory birds including the bald eagle. In 2019, Attorney General Becerra successfully blocked Westlands Water District from taking unlawful action to raise the Shasta Dam, which would have irreparably damaged the McCloud River and its wild trout fishery and inundated sacred lands of the Winnemem Wintu tribe.

A copy of the motion and the amended complaint can be found here and here.

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