Controversial Cadiz water pipeline gets OK from federal government

In an about-face, the federal government has given Cadiz Inc. the go-ahead to lay a pipeline for its proposed desert water project in an existing railroad right-of-way.

The decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management follows other Trump administration moves to eliminate a legal hurdle erected in the company’s path when President Obama was in office.

In 2015, the BLM said Cadiz couldn’t use the right-of-way and would have to obtain federal permission to run the 43-mile pipeline across surrounding federal land. That would have triggered a lengthy environmental review that could have imposed new restrictions on Cadiz’s plans to pump groundwater from its desert holdings 200 miles east of Los Angeles and sell it to Southland communities.

The project has been approved under state environmental law, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and public lands advocates long have fought Cadiz, arguing that the groundwater pumping would deplete the local aquifer and harm the fragile desert ecosystem in nearby wilderness areas.

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