Protecting the Mojave Desert’s Wildlife
Photo by John Monsen
Sierra Club Fights to Stop Dangerous Mojave Desert Water Mining Scheme Backed By the Trump Administration
The Sierra Club is fighting back against one of the biggest threats faced by our Southern California deserts, a plan by corporate water raider Cadiz Inc to extract 16 billion gallons of water a year from under public land in the Mojave Trails National Monument. The monument, located near Joshua Tree National Park, is one of the driest places on earth. Cadiz hopes to sell its expensive product to water districts across the southland, potentially driving up water rates.
The project has many glaring flaws, not the least of which is that Cadiz Inc would mine water at a rate up to 25 times faster than the water table is replenished. This would dry up desert springs on which wildlife such as the magnificent desert bighorn sheep depend. The Trump Administration has waived a federal review of the project and declared it a national infrastructure priority. Prior to working for the Administration, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt worked for the law firm that represents Cadiz.
As the federal government is falling down on the job, the state of California is stepping up, with new legislation (Senate Bill 307) that would hit the pause button on the project and subject it to a science-driven review by the State Lands Commission concerning its impact on public lands. Sierra Club California, the Angeles Chapter Water Committee, and many allies worked to pass the bill despite intense lobbying by Cadiz, which shot down two similar bills in 2017 and 2018.
As this is being written, SB 307 passed in the Senate with the exact minimum number of votes needed, which is 21. The next challenge it getting the bill through the State Assembly before the end of summer deadline. This is likely to be a challenge, however, with your support, we have a chance of passing the bill with the help of our Assembly champions, principal co-author Laura Friedman (Glendale) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (Los Angeles).