The Trump administration has approved of Cadiz Inc.'s controversial plan for a water pipeline that will carry billions of gallons of water from the Mojave Desert to Southern California.
In 2015, the Bureau of Land Management under President Barack Obama told the company that it would need a separate federal permit to run the 43-mile pipeline along an existing right-of-way for a railroad. The permit application would have required a new environmental review. In a letter sent Friday, and made public on Monday, the BLM reversed its earlier decision, stating that the Arizona and California Railroad has the authority to let the pipeline use its right-of-way without the BLM's authorization.
Cadiz officials are "tremendously satisfied to finally have this matter resolved," the company's chief executive officer and president, Scott Slater, said in a statement. But California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), an opponent of the project, noted that there are still state-level hurdles that Cadiz must clear. The railroad right-of-way crosses a patch of state lands, which means Cadiz still needs approval and a lease from the State Lands Commission.
"It's no surprise the Trump administration is willing to look the other way while Cadiz drains a vital desert aquifer. California must now step up to protect the Mojave desert from Cadiz and its friends in the administration," Feinstein said in a statement.