Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump told an audience in Fresno on Friday: “There is no drought.”
Technically, he is incorrect. California is still in the midst of one of the worst droughts in recorded history. One study in late 2014 suggested that the drought is in fact the worst in 1200 years. The El Niño rains that helped restore reservoir levels in the northern part of the state largely failed to reach Southern California. The Sierra Nevada snowpack rose — but not nearly enough.
Yet in one sense, Trump is correct: the drought is real, but the water shortage is artificial. There is more than enough rain in California to meet the competing needs of agriculture, fishing, households and conservation. However, large amounts of fresh water are flushed out to sea in a poorly conceived and heavy-handed effort to protect the endangered Delta smelt. California has also failed to invest in additional water storage facilities for several decades, or to invest widely in desalination plants.
Last year, then-presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said of the drought: “It is a man-made disaster. California is a classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology. It is a tragedy.”
Adam Nagourney of the New York Times agreed that the drought was man-made, but pointed the finger elsewhere — namely, at Gov. Jerry Brown’s father and predecessor, Pat Brown, who sought to expand California’s economic growth and road infrastructure.
Trump told the Fresno rally: “We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea” to save “a certain kind of three-inch fish.”
The water problem will not be so easily solved — but using the blunt instrument of the federal government and the federal courts, as the left has done, has proved to be a disaster for California as groundwater disappears and fields lie fallow.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.