California’s Newsom Sues Trump Administration for Efforts to Direct Water to Thirsty Farms

Gavin Newsom and Donald Trump (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
Evan Vucci / Associated Press

California Governor Gavin Newsom is suing the Trump administration for trying to get water to suffering farmers in the state’s Central Valley.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Trump is trying to “prevent California’s rivers and wildlife from being cheated out of vital supplies.”

State leaders said boosting agricultural deliveries, a longtime campaign promise of the president, could upend fragile watersheds and threaten such protected fish as the ionic chinook salmon and delta smelt.

The Chronicle characterizes farmers as “big water users allied with Washington.”

Newsom said in a statement:

We are once again marshaling our collective resources and building on our record of strong, science-based environmental policies, to chart a new path forward for water policy in California. As stewards of this state’s remarkable natural resources, we must do everything in our power to protect them.

“The next generation of Californians deserve nothing less,” Newsom said.

The Chronicle reports that 30 percent of the state’s water supply to cities and farms comes from federal and state-run water reservoirs.

The Trump administration last month announced new rules for both water sources to lessen restrictions on giving farms access to the water supplies.

The Chronicle reported: 

The administration’s changes were cheered by farmers in the San Joaquin Valley who have blamed long-standing environmental regulation for tying up water to the state’s $54 billion agricultural economy.

Environmental groups, however, blasted the rules. They said additional water releases would dry up the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the rivers that feed it, jolting a statewide ecosystem that supports not only fish but birds, bears, killer whales and other plants and animals.

“The federal plan is really a plan for extinction,” Doug Obegi, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in the Chronicle report. “I’m glad to see the state stand up to the Trump administration. This is a big deal.”

But the Trump administration defended its move.

“From the beginning, we’ve been focused on cooperative solutions with the state of California to being reliable water supplies to farms, families, communities and the environment,” Brenda Burman, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, said in a statement, adding:

Today’s announcement by Gov. Newsom is disappointing in his preference to have judges dictate these important projects instead of the career professionals at the federal and state levels who have developed a plan baed on the best science and significant input from the public.

“If that’s their choice, we’ll see them in court,” Burman said.

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