Gov. Gavin Newsom hailed President Donald Trump’s visit to California on Wednesday with a threat to sue Trump’s administration to block a controversial plan to increase water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley.
A day later, Newsom’s administration followed through. Two state agencies and Attorney General Xavier Becerra took Trump’s administration to court Thursday evening, claiming the new water plan will put populations of Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead at severe risk and violates federal environmental law.
Newsom served notice that he would sue just minutes before Trump appeared in Bakersfield on Wednesday to announce his administration had finalized an order removing regulatory roadblocks and enabling the giant Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to deliver additional water to the southern half of the state.
Appearing with farm leaders and elected officials in the heart of Valley agriculture, the president endorsed new rules governing how water moves through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The decision is designed to open the floodgates so that millions of gallons additional water can flow to urban Southern California and the Valley, where farmers are constantly clamoring for additional supplies.
Trump, speaking to a cheering crowd at an airport hangar in Bakersfield, said his plan will bring “a massive amount of water for the use of California farmers and ranchers and all these communities that are suffering.” He decried state policies that have allowed “millions and millions of gallons (to be) wasted and poured into the ocean” and said he hopes Newsom would fall into line.
With roadblocks to water delivery removed, “you’re going to be able to farm your land and you’re going to be able to do things you never thought possible,” the president added. “Maybe we can get the governor to come along and really be friendly on this one.” He didn’t mention Newsom’s plan to file suit.
Newsom, who has sued Trump over everything from air pollution to immigration, originally threatened to sue over the water plan last fall, saying it could harm the environment.
But the Democratic governor has also tried to find common ground with Trump on water. On Monday he sent the Interior Department a letter acknowledging that Valley farmers need more water and pledging to continue negotiating a compromise with federal officials.
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