Drought Critics: Obama’s California Golf Game Out of Bounds

More Obama golf (Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty)
Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty
San Diego, CA

Global warming activists and environmentalists continue to complain about President Barack Obama’ Father’s Day weekend stint in the drought-stricken state of California, during which he touted his commitment to combat climate change and then jetted off to Palm Springs to hit some balls on the manicured greens of the elite Annenberg Estate Sunnylands.

“You’ve come to a state that is in the lead on climate change,” Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) heralded at a Bay Area fundraiser with the President late last week, according to Political Blotter. Obama has lauded Californians’ sacrifices to conserve water in the past, and offered federal assistance in February 2014 while tying the state’s deep, extended drought to climate change.

But Obama’s repeated golf tourism, and his most recent golf game, have drawn criticism.

Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said, “President Obama needs to take a mulligan and rethink golfing in Palm Springs in the middle of a drought,” according to the New York Times.

On April 1, Governor Jerry Brown issued the first water reduction mandate in the state’s history. Coachella Valley Water District residents now face a 36% reduction requirement or must pay fines, as illustrated by the Coachella Valley Water District’s Drought Penalty Calculator. Area residents use almost twice the state average in water, the Times reports.

Over 120 golf courses grace California’s Coachella Valley region, gulping up a massive near one-quarter of precious groundwater in the Coachella Valley Water District in 2012 and 2013. The Valley’s golf industry uses approximately 37 billion gallons annually, the Los Angeles Times noted.

(Sunnylands, where the president played, is one of the courses that has instituted some water-conserving measures.)

Farmers have felt the squeeze as well, with massive Central Valley crop fields going fallow under government policies stemming massive water flows in favor of the delta smelt, a rare three-inch fish.

Yet there is often one rule for some, one rule for others. Just last week San Francisco re-opened the $20.5 million revamped Dolores Park, exhibiting large swaths of freshly installed sod, apparently impervious to the push to make Californians replace their lawns with drought-resistant landscaping.

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