One of the problems with courts deciding important political or policy questions on procedural grounds is that the substantive issues remain unresolved. Instead, we get more process. Such, it seems, is the case with today’s decision by the Nevada Supreme Court to invalidate Las Vegas’s applications for rights to fill its urban pipeline with rural Nevada groundwater.
For now, as Emily Green reports, Vegas’s yet-to-be-built pipeline is without water:
In an unanimous decision, the Nevada Supreme Court decided that the State Engineer violated the due process rights of hundreds, if not thousands, of people in target valleys across the Great Basin who had long protested the pipeline and water withdrawals.
This is clearly a setback for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Las Vegas’s water wholesaler and the government agency that hopes to build the pipeline. So what happens now?
It its statement (thanks to Emily for posting), SNWA suggests that the next steps are unclear:
The Nevada Supreme Court ruling remanded to District Court the decision as to whether the Nevada State Engineer will simply need to re-notice the applications in order to allow additional protestants to participate—which appears to have been the ruling’s underlying intent—or whether the applications must be re-filed.
Meanwhile the AP is reporting that SNWA immediately refiled the groundwater applications. Either way, what we’ve got here is more process, rather than a resolution of the underlying question of whether moving large quantities of water from one watershed to another is an appropriate approach to meeting our long term water needs here in the west.