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Earlier this month, Mojave Pistachios issued a press release on the Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal’s order compelling the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (Authority) to demonstrate why the Court should not permit our challenge to the Authority’s pumping allocations to proceed.

The response from Authority General Counsel Keith Lemieux?

"They're so desperate for any kind of news basically they just issued a press release saying the court did not throw out their appeal," Mr. Lemieux said to a reporter for The Daily Independent.

Contrary to the Authority’s spin, a writ is not an appeal. Writs constitute extraordinary relief granted in less than 10% of cases. The Court of Appeal only issues an order to show cause like it did in this case, where the issues are important and it believes the request may have merit. The order by the Appeals Court also included a stay to stop further trial court proceedings until the Court of Appeal has a chance to look into things. This is meaningful because it validates what we have been saying for the last few years, and our local communities have a right to know.

The Authority is using California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to unconstitutionally choose winners and losers.

Mojave Pistachios has the strong support of the California Farm Bureau, Western Growers Association and Searles Valley Minerals because this legal fight with the Authority is bigger than our business. It has statewide implications. And folks up and down the state are paying attention.

The Authority wants agriculture to stay quiet and accept their abuse of SGMA, but we will not do so. Mojave Pistachios has paid over $1 million to the Authority only for the Authority to deny us any water allocation whatsoever. This is a true case of taxation without representation, and the public has a right to know.

(Ridgecrest) – The Fourth Appellate District, Court of Appeal issued an order last week compelling the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) to show cause as to why the Court should not grant Mojave Pistachios’ petition for writ of mandate in its legal action challenging the IWVGA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). Mojave’s petition asks the court to rule on questions of state-wide importance, including that pumping allocations adopted by groundwater sustainability agencies like the IWVGA must be consistent with California groundwater rights law.

In 2020, Mojave filed suit against the IWVGA, asking the court to invalidate the IWVGA’s unconstitutional GSP and actions implementing the GSP and requesting more than $255,000,000 in damages. This action came after the IWVGA gave Mojave, a zero groundwater allocation. The complaint alleges, among other contentions, that the IWVGA misused the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in an attempt to eradicate agriculture from the Indian Wells Valley.

Mojave filed its petition for writ of mandate to the Court of Appeal in February after the trial court agreed with the IWVGA’s argument that Mojave Pistachios should not be allowed to challenge the IWVGA’s pumping allocations or prove up its takings case against the IWVGA. Appellate courts rarely grant writ relief; approximately 90-95 percent of petitions for writ of mandate are summarily denied.

The California Farm Bureau, Western Growers Association and Searles Valley Minerals each filed an amicus letter with the Court in support of Mojave’s petition. In its letter, Western Growers Association states “We believe that the trial court order in this case is contrary to SGMA and undermines the longstanding rights of landowners.”

Last week’s order gives the IWVGA an opportunity to submit a formal response brief and the parties may then request oral argument. Further, the order also stays the trial court case pending a further order from the Court of Appeal.

Established in 2011, Mojave Pistachios farms approximately 1,600 acres of pistachios near Ridgecrest, California.

For the last several years, my company, Mojave Pistachios, has thoughtfully partnered in efforts to better understand the state of the Basin and to develop a fair and equitable physical solution that includes all major pumpers in the Indian Wells Valley.

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA), however, continues to be part of a larger effort to intimidate people in the Indian Wells Valley Water District and in the local community. Case in point – In October 2022, IWVGA submitted a letter to the Water District that included thirteen references to me and my company. It was a letter designed to bully and is filled with inaccuracies.

Read my response that sets the record straight.

IWVGA Letter 12.13.22
Download PDF • 754KB

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