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Center for Environmental Science v. National Park Service

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

December 10, 2014

CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, ACCURACY & RELIABILITY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, et al., Defendants

For CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE ACCURACY AND RELIABILITY, JEAN SAGOUSPE, Plaintiffs: Roger Joseph Marzulla , MARZULLA LAW, LLC, Washington, DC.

For NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, SALLY JEWELL, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Interior, RACHEL JACOBSON, in her official capacity as Assistant Secretary for Parks and Wildlife, Department of the Interior, JONATHAN B. JARVIS, in his official capacity as Director, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Defendants: Daniel J. Pollak, Edward S. Geldermann, LEAD ATTORNEYS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Environmental & Natural Resources Division, Washington, DC.

For CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, Movant: Ella Foley Gannon, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, BINGHAM MCCUTCHEN, LLP, San Francisco, CA; Jonathan Knapp, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, SAN FRANCISCO CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, San Francisco, CA; Sandra Patricia Franco, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 354

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BERYL A. HOWELL, United States District Judge.

The Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability and Jean Sagouspe (the " plaintiffs" ) filed this lawsuit against the National Park Service and three government officials (collectively, the " Federal Defendants" ) alleging violations of the Endangered

Page 355

Species Act (" ESA" ), 16 U.S.C. § § 1531 et seq., and the National Environmental Policy Act (" NEPA" ), 42 U.S.C. § § 4321 et seq., due to the diversion of fresh water by the Hetch Hetchy Project from the Tuolumne River to the City of San Francisco. See Compl at 1, ECF No. 1. According to the plaintiffs, this Project jeopardizes the continued existence of listed species of salmon, smelt, and sturgeon, id. ¶ 17, and adversely impacts local economic interests by diverting water needed for farming while California is experiencing severe drought conditions, id. ¶ ¶ 2, 18, 20. The Federal Defendants along with the City and County of San Francisco, which have moved to intervene in this action, request transfer of this case to the Eastern District of California, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Defs.' Mot. to Transfer at 1, ECF. No. 17; CCSF's Mot. to Intervene, ECF No. 14 (" With this Motion to Intervene, CCSF [] also submitted . . . a Motion for Transfer of Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)" to the Eastern District of California.). For the reasons explained in more detail below, given the significant local interests implicated by this action, the Court concludes that the transfer of this case to the Eastern District of California best serves the interests of justice and, therefore, grants the defendants' motion.[1]

I. BACKGROUND

A detailed statement of the facts is not necessary to comprehend the significant local interests at stake requiring transfer of this action to a federal court in the State of California. In brief, the Hetch Hetchy Project dams the Tuolumne River within Yosemite National Park to direct fresh water to San Francisco. Compl. at 11. The plaintiffs allege that this Project effects the operations of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin Rivers as well as the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta by increasing the salinity in those waterways and thereby " jeopardiz[ing] the continued existence" of three endangered fish species.[2] Id. at ¶ 17.

Pending before the Court is the Federal Defendants motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of California. See Defs.' Mot. to Transfer, ECF No. 17.[3]

Page 356

II. LEGAL STANDARD


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