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In re Delta Smelt Consolidated Cases

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20179
Nos. Nos. 1:09-cv-00407 OWW DLB et al., (E.D. Cal., 05/04/2011) Modified decision

A district court, on a motion to amend judgment, extended the FWS' deadline for completing its biological opinion (BiOp) for the threatened delta smelt as well as the Bureau of Reclamation's deadline to complete review of the FWS' reasonable and prudent alternative (RPA) under NEPA. In December 2010, the court remanded the FWS' 2008 BiOp addressing the impacts of the coordinated operations of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project on the threatened delta smelt. In March, the court issued its final judgment on all claims and ordered the FWS to complete the BiOp by October 1, 2011, and the Bureau to complete review of the RPA by December 15, 2011. In their motion to amend, the agencies have demonstrated that the existing final judgment would cause manifest injustice, as it would require FWS and Reclamation to complete their duties on remand in a time frame impossible for them to achieve. The court, therefore, modified the deadline to require completion of a final BiOp, RPA, and NEPA review by December 1, 2013. This is approximately 32 months from now, 36 months following the December 2010 decision, and prior to the water season in which supply restrictions have historically been imposed to protect the species.