A federal court on Tuesday temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to pump more water to the agricultural Central Valley, which critics said would threaten endangered species and salmon runs.
In a move that would boost water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and Southern California cities, federal fishery agencies are weakening decade-old endangered species protections for some of the state’s most imperiled native fish populations.
The rollback — coming a year after President Trump targeted the regulations in a memo — rewards Central Valley agribusiness interests that are some of the president’s strongest California supporters. To critics, it highlights the extent to which the Trump administration has injected politics into federal oversight of the nation’s leading environmental laws.
The Delta smelt is such a small and translucent fish that it often disappears from view when it swims in the turbid waters of its home in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
However, it’s also been disappearing from the Delta entirely.
“The Delta smelt has gone from being one of the more abundant fish in the Delta to being just on the verge of extinction today,” Peter Moyle, an Emeritus Professor of Fish Biology at UC Davis, said.