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Trump Tries To Save California Farmers. California Goes To War With Him.
U.S. President Donald Trump ceremonially signs legislation at a rally with local farmers on February 19, 2020 in Bakersfield, California.
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

On Wednesday, President Trump signed an order to help save California’s farmers, who have been squeezed dry by the state’s environmental policies denying them water. The memorandum directed California’s water supply toward farmers in the state’s Central Valley.

On Thursday night, the state of California sued the White House, with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra claiming Trump violated the law by ignoring the environmental impact of his order. He snapped, “As we face the unprecedented threat of a climate emergency, now is the time to strengthen our planet’s biodiversity, not destroy it. California won’t silently spectate as the Trump Administration adopts scientifically-challenged biological opinions that push species to extinction and harm our natural resources and waterways,” The Hill reported.

The environmental impact that Becerra was referring to included the effect on the chinook salmon and the delta smelt. Concern about the delta smelt has blocked water from being diverted from the San Francisco Bay Delta to the Central Valley for roughly 30 years.

Trump had ordered the Department of the Interior to take a new look at biological assessments before he signed the order.

Trump signed the order in Bakersfield, where he said:

I’m thrilled to be here today as we take historic action on behalf of our incredible farmers and ranchers, growers, and communities throughout the Central Valley and all across the great state of California.  What they’re doing to your state is 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.  The state is not doing anything to help, but hopefully they will eventually come along.

Now that they’re rationing water for people, they’re saying you’re going to get, very shortly — I heard the governor saying you get 50 gallons.  Fifty gallons sounds okay.  People tell me it’s like nothing.  By the time you do with your showers, and your hands, and your tissues, and everything, 50 gallons is very, very little.  Can you imagine a state being rationed, when you have millions and millions and millions of gallons being poured out into the Pacific Ocean that you could have?  And you’d have more water than knew what to do with.  It’s crazy.

Trump continued:

For too long, authorities have needlessly flushed millions and millions of gallons of fresh, beautiful clean water from up north, straight into the Pacific Ocean.  It’s nothing for the Pacific Ocean.  You know what it means?  Like nothing.  We’re talking about the Pacific. I think they think we’re helping the Pacific.  It’s like a drop.  It’s like a drop.  But it can help us to a level that nobody can believe.  On the basis of old science, obsolete studies, and overbearing regulations that had not been updated in many, many years, and sometimes for decades.

The resulting miscalculation and misallocation of water helped turn natural droughts into manmade catastrophes.  I mean, it’s really a catastrophe, when you think.  You have farmers that own land that are paying taxes on the land that aren’t allowed to farm your land.  They’re actually taking away your land, if you think about it.

Trump added, “A lot of people speak badly of your state.  I love your state.  I understand your state.  You have the potential like no place else, but you need the right government.  You need the right governor.”

Matt Fisher, a local citrus farmer who had been asked to speak, asserted to Trump, “Farming here in the state of California isn’t the easiest, and every day since you’ve been in office, you’ve done exactly what you promised.  You came to California and sought to understand our water issues.  You listened to the right people, put a plan in place, selected the right people, assigned a deadline, and got it done.  These biological opinions and the balance that they will bring to the water that falls on this state will bring certainty not only to my family and our employees, but several other families that farm here in the state of California.  They are based on sound science and will help the Bureau of Reclamation maximize water to not only family farms, but rural communities and the environment.

Fisher added, “Your leadership on updating these biological opinions will bring significant relief to my family and will save literally thousands upon thousands of acres of citrus from being left to die. So thank you again, sir, for keeping your word and following through to help us here in the San Joaquin Valley.”


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