We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve won our lawsuit against the Trump administration over their decision to abandon Clean Water Act jurisdiction for the Cargill salt ponds. U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled on Monday that the Trump administration ignored its own regulations and misapplied the law in its decision. Now the Trump administration will have to issue a new determination based on the court’s ruling.
Together with our co-plaintiffs Baykeeper, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, and Save the Bay, and also the California Attorney General, we argued that the Cargill salt ponds fall within the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, and also that the findings of Region 9 of the Environmental Protection Agency should be included in the administrative record. (For more details, see our April blog post: The Trump Administration’s Latest Attack on the Cargill Salt Ponds.)
The court granted our motions in full. Because the salt ponds have always been connected to the Bay through tidal gates and pipes, and because they were never converted to dry, solid “fast lands” (as, for example, filled-in former wetlands like the communities of Redwood Shores and Foster City were converted), the Cargill salt ponds remain subject to the Clean Water Act. The court also agreed that the Region 9 findings should be part of the administrative record, since the Environmental Protection Agency considered these findings when making the final determination.
This is a huge victory for the Bay and for the Clean Water Act! It’s also a huge victory for the community of Redwood City, which made it clear years ago that Cargill’s development proposals were not welcome. Although this ruling doesn’t prohibit development on the salt ponds, it does make it harder for Cargill to push through a development proposal.
We brought this lawsuit because we weren’t going to stand by while Cargill used the Trump administration’s eagerness to gut environmental laws for its own economic advantage. If this ruling is appealed to the Ninth Circuit, we’ll keep on fighting to defend the Bay and the salt ponds against Cargill’s attacks. With your support, we will continue to be a champion for local nature, now and always.