Mixed Signals From Washington on Fate of Bay-Delta

While the California Legislature continues to work on a comprehensive package of Delta bills, the Obama Administration entered the fray on Tuesday with six federal agencies signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing a Federal Bay-Delta Leadership Committee.
Over the next several months, the Leadership Committee will coordinate with the state and key stakeholders to develop a federal action plan. The plan will look at habitat restoration, climate change mitigation, water efficiency and recycling, and land stewardship programs that benefit the Delta ecosystem.
Having federal agencies involved will hopefully ensure the success of efforts to restore the collapsing Delta ecosystem.
However, California Senator Dianne Feinstein may hamper the attempt more than help, since she’s suggesting that the Endangered Species Act should be waived “as fast as we can” to temporarily transfer Delta water to Central Valley agribusinesses. She has also called for a National Academy of Sciences review of the recent Endangered Species Act Biological Opinions that have helped protect Delta smelt and salmon fisheries.
With the announcement of the MOU, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar also encouraged Governor Schwarzenegger to convene a special session of the California Legislature to finalize the state’s bill package. It remains to be seen if and how state lawmakers and the Governor will coordinate their negotiations with the federal Leadership Committee.