The Sacramento, Calif.-based Pacific Legal Foundation has begun circulating petitions that urge President Barack Obama and California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to convene a special panel to examine the state's water situation.
The campaign is in response to U.S. District Court Judge Oliver ruling that pumping in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta must be reduced or stopped when endangered fish are present.
The 3-inch-long delta smelt, among other species, is protected uner the federal Endangered Species Act. Environmentalists and many fishery experts say they believe the smelt is an indicator of the health of the delta.
Their surveys show smelt populations have dropped to some of the lowest on record.
Coupled with less-than-average snowpack this season, the reduced pumping has meant farmers south of the delta will receive only 10 percent of contracted federal water supplies.
The petition drive comes just after Wanger issued a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's biological opinion for the delta smelt.
The injunction would allow increased pumping unless the Fish and Wildlife Service can justify its actions.
In issuing it, Wanger aggreed with plaintiffs that water export reductions would cause "irreparable" economic and enviromental harm.
For more information, visit the Pacific Legal Foundation.