President Donald Trump signed a new memorandum Friday to provide more water to California’s farmers, lifting spirits in the Central Valley — and potentially lifting the fortunes of embattled Republican congressmen.
Republicans have long argued that too much water has been diverted from farming and from household use to environmental priorities, thanks to lawsuits by environmental groups, and to unfriendly state and federal agencies.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), for example, has made water issues a priority, leading an effort to stop the new Bay-Delta Plan, which would require more water to remain in rivers to sustain vulnerable fish species. Denham calls the new plan “Sacramento’s water grab,” and accuses his Democratic opponent in the 10th congressional district, Josh Harder, of weakness on the issue.
The memorandum directs the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce to develop a streamlined process to ensure “[e]nvironmental compliance requirements shall be completed as expeditiously as possible, and in accordance with applicable law.” It also calls on the agencies to “develop a proposed plan … to appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind any regulations or procedures that unduly burden” water infrastructure projects.”
Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), defending his seat in the 21st congressional district, applauded Trump’s water memo in a press statement:
After years of fighting obstruction from California Senators, this Executive action is a giant leap toward reducing regulatory burdens and improving water deliveries to California’s Central Valley. I am proud our efforts have effectuated such substantial progress. With a reliable water supply, we can restore fallowed fields into fertile farmland, put Californian’s back to work, and give all Central Valley families the opportunity they deserve.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who represents part of the southern Central Valley, joined fellow California Republican congressmen Denham, Valadao, Devin Nunes (CA-22), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Tom McClintock (CA-4), and Doug LaMalfa (CA-1) in issuing another joint statement:
The President’s announcement is an immense relief for the farmers and families of the San Joaquin Valley and communities across California.
Due to the actions of environmental extremists and overzealous bureaucrats, California has been suffering from a years-long water crisis that has wreaked havoc in Central Valley farming communities that feed tens of millions of Americans. Productive land has gone fallow and farmworkers have lost their jobs. Communities across California have also been devastated as senseless government regulations have mandated that billions of gallons of water be flushed out to the ocean and wasted.
Now, with this executive action, there is a strict timetable for rewriting the biological opinions that lie at the root of the water crisis. This executive action also prioritizes building critical projects to expand water storage in our state so that we can store more water during wet years for use in dry years.
Democrat Jim Costa, representing the 16th congressional district, and facing a spirited fight from Republican Elizabeth Heng, also issued a press statement commending the president for his memorandum.
Denham and Valadao both represent districts that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. Together with Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and is a thorn in Democrats’ sides, all three are being targeted by Nancy Pelosi’s party as she makes a bid to return as Speaker of the House.
Trump’s memo may provide a much-needed reprieve — both agricultural, and political.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.