Gov Newsom fumes over Trump’s order to divert water to California farmers, vows to sue

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s plan to divert water supplies to help California farmers was met with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s counter plan to sue the Trump administration.

Just before the president was set to announce his fulfillment of a campaign promise to get water from the north end of the state to the agriculture industry in the San Joaquin Valley to the south, the office of the Democratic governor said he “will file legal action in the coming days … to protect highly imperiled fish species close to extinction,” The Sacramento Bee reported.

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(Source: Sacramento Bee)
Newsom had vowed to sue the administration back in November after Trump’s announced plan, but had not followed up in what the Los Angeles Times said, “would be a righteous lawsuit.”
“California won’t allow the Trump Administration to destroy and deplete our natural resources,” the state’s Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement following Trump’s speech Wednesday. “We’re prepared to challenge the Trump Administration’s harmful attack on our state’s critical ecosystems and environment.”Trump signed the order and spoke about how it would bring “a massive amount of water for the use of California farmers and ranchers and all these communities that are suffering.”

He told the crowd gathered in Bakersfield at an airport hangar that “millions and millions of gallons” of water have been “wasted and poured into the ocean” due to California policies.  The president noted changes to the “outdated scientific research and biological opinions,” as endangered species protections for different types of fish that had been in place for years were reversed by the Department of the Interior last year.

The changes would now direct “as much water as possible, which will be a magnificent amount, a massive amount of water for the use of California farmers and ranchers,” Trump said, with California Republican Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes by his side. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt also joined the president.

“It would be different if you had a drought,” Trump said. “You don’t have a drought. You have tremendous amounts of water.”

He also said “you’re going to be able to farm your land and you’re going to be able to do things you never thought possible,” adding that “maybe we can get the governor to come along and really be friendly on this one.”

Newsom had acknowledged in a letter to the Interior Department this week that more water was needed by Valley farmers and promised he would try to work on a compromise plan.

“We remain committed to working to resolve these remaining differences in (the) coming weeks and months,” Newsom wrote to Bernhardt.

But the president on Wednesday referred to California’s previous water policy as a “disgrace.”

“After decades of failure and delays in ensuring critical water access for the people of this state, we are determined to finally get your problem solved,” Trump said.

Critics of the administration’s plan and perceived interference spoke out against the changes.

“President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt are draining the delta while they fill the swamp,” Jennifer Rokala, an environmental watchdog group executive director, said, according to The Hill. “This attempt to harm the largest estuary on the West Coast will get tied up in court for years, and the Trump administration will keep losing until it decides to follow the law.”

“Trump’s shady water deal … seizes more Northern California water and gravely threatens the jobs of tens of thousands of Californians who work in the salmon industry,” John McManus of the Golden State Salmon Association.

Others praised the president for keeping his promises and helping the region’s farmers.

The decision is “the first substantive positive action that’s being implemented in the Valley for over 50 years,” Valley official Jason Phillips said.

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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