NOAA and USFWS biological opinions admit Delta tunnels would adversely impact smelt, salmon, steelhead and other California native species that are struggling to survive
Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), co-chair of the Delta Legislative Caucus, today released the following statement on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) just-released biological opinions on the proposed Delta tunnels project.
“Pages five and six of the NOAA Biological Opinion state that building the tunnels would adversely affect several endangered and threatened iconic California species, including our native Chinook salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon and killer whales. The FWS Biological Opinion admits Delta smelt will be cut off from critical habitat during the 10-year construction period of the tunnels, and that once the tunnels are operational smelt habitat will be permanently constricted. FWS further admits that ‘little information is known’ on how this loss of habitat for smelt will be managed. So, how do the governor and proponents of building the tunnels say: ‘But we are going to build it anyway?’ These biological opinions confirm what people in the Delta have been saying about the proposed tunnels for years: The project is dangerous and foolish and threatens to finish off critical California native species that are struggling to survive. There are alternative options to delivering the water that the governor wants and the water districts need that don’t adversely impact our endangered and threatened species. It’s time to face the facts: The tunnel project could put California in jeopardy.”