Tunnels debate in court next week

On Monday, a state appeals court will hear oral arguments from state officials and attorneys representing Delta landowners, who for years have resisted efforts by the Department of Water Resources to come onto their land and conduct environmental tests needed to build the twin tunnels.

Thomas Keeling, the Stockton attorney representing the landowners, calls this a “milestone event” in an overview document which he released on Thursday. The case has been pending for a couple of years now, and some of the tests and surveys required to build the project have been delayed as a result.

“Counsel for the State will sit at one table, urging the court to reverse rulings that have prevented the State from gaining access to Delta lands to conduct lengthy and intrusive investigations they say are essential to complete planning for the (Bay Delta Conservation Plan),” Keeling writes. “Sitting at the other table, counsel for the Delta landowners will attempt to affirm and strengthen the favorable rulings that have thus far stymied the State’s ambitious BDCP-related access-and-study plans.”

In a brief recently filed with the court, the state argues that proposed drilling tests on private property would be “short in duration and will not interfere with Respondents’… expectations for land use.” The state says the tests do not amount to a “taking” of property for which action under eminent domain law would be required.

Monday’s arguments are scheduled for 2 p.m. at the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District in Sacramento.

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    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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