On October 9, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a notice of oral argument in three cases involving the Central Valley Project and water rights. The Ninth Circuit will hear argument in the cases of San Luis Unit Food Producers v. USA, Ninth Circuit Case No. 11-16122, Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority v. U.S. Department of the Interior, Ninth Circuit Case No. 11-17199, and Firebaugh Canal Water District v. USA, Ninth Circuit Case No. 11-17715, on December 5, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in the James R. Browning United States Courthouse in San Francisco, California. The court will reveal the identity of panel members not earlier than the week before the case will be heard.
In San Luis Unit Food Producers v. USA, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled that plaintiffs in the case lacked standing to sue the Department of the Interior. Plaintiffs had alleged the government violated reclamation law by unlawfully withholding water for environmental purposes. Briefing in the San Luis Unit Food Producers appeal completed on October 25, 2011.
In Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority v. U.S. Department of the Interior, the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority (“TCCA”) challenges the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California’s ruling that water users in the Sacramento Valley have no preferential right to deliver of Central Valley Project under California’s so-called “area of origin” laws. Briefing in the TCCA appeal completed on July 2, 2012.
Lastly, in Firebaugh Canal Water District v. USA, the issue on appeal is whether the San Luis Act imposes a clear legal duty on the Federal government to provide drainage for lands located outside the boundaries of the San Luis Unit of the Central Valley Project. The origins of the litigation date back to 1988 and this appeal challenges the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California's ruling that the Federal government's interpretation of the San Luis Act, as imposing no mandatory duty to provide drainage service outside the San Luis Unit, is a reasonable and lawful interpretation, entitled to deference. Briefing in the Firebaugh appeal completed on July 30, 2012.
In each of the three appeals, the parties for each side are given twenty minutes for argument.