On September 20, 2011, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a memorandum decision that finds the 2009 Salmonid Biological Opinion ("BiOp") and Reasonable and Prudent Alternative ("RPA") arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful.
In a 279-page decision by Honorable Judge Oliver Wanger, the court found several scientific and legal errors in the BiOp and RPA that warranted remand. On multiple occasions, the court found "clear error" or a failure to use the "best available science." The court concluded:
Some of NMFS's analyses rely upon equivocal or bad science to impose RPA Actions without clearly explaining or otherwise demonstrating why specific measures imposed are essential to avoid jeopardy and/or adverse modification. Given the potential serious impacts of these measures, the agency must do more to comply with the law.
The district court's opinion in the case, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority et al. v. Locke et al., Case No. 1:09-CV-1053, may be found here. A KMTG Legal Alert with a detailed analysis of the court's ruling will be posted in the near future.