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article imageOp-Ed: Trump dives headfirst into California’s water policy on Friday

By Karen Graham     Oct 20, 2018 in Politics
Scottsdale - President Trump dived headfirst into one of California’s most contentious fights Friday, signing a memorandum intended to divert more water to farmers and “reduce regulatory burdens” that include protections for endangered species and environmental
The Trump machine is sneaky, like a fox. The president signed the memo on Friday, during a stop in Scottsdale, Arizona. With less than three weeks before midterm elections in which several California Republicans are locked in competitive races, it was obviously a political move on his part.
“This will move things along at a record clip,” Trump said after signing the memo in Arizona alongside California GOP Reps. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, and Devin Nunes, David Valadao, Jeff Denham, and Tom McClintock. All represent Central Valley districts with substantial agricultural interests, reports the San Francisco Chronical.
Forest fires like this one in the Cleveland National Forest in southern California are transforming ...
Forest fires like this one in the Cleveland National Forest in southern California are transforming the landscape by destroying pine forests and transforming the land into shrubland
Robyn Beck, AFP/File
In a press conference, David Bernhardt, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior, said that the memorandum “might be the most significant action taken by a President on western water issues" in his lifetime.
Under the memorandum “promoting the reliable supply and delivery of water in the West,” Trump directed the chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality and the secretaries of the Army, Commerce, Interior, and Energy to repair “uncoordinated, piecemeal regulatory actions” affecting water projects.
A bulldozer clears mud off the road near a flooded section of US 101 freeway near the San Ysidro exi...
A bulldozer clears mud off the road near a flooded section of US 101 freeway near the San Ysidro exit in Montecito, California on January 9, 2018
FREDERIC J. BROWN, AFP/File
The memo also directs officials to identify “unnecessary regulatory burdens” that are keeping water projects from meeting the public's demand for water and finding ways to "streamline" the process “in accordance with the law.” In other words, Trump is saying fix this water issue by doing things my way - and to hell with any previous laws or regulations.
The memo is directed at the Central Valley Water Project in California, the Klamath Irrigation Project in Oregon and the Columbia River Basin. All the directives include strict timelines for compliance. This information alone indicates this little plan has been in the works for a while - just waiting for the right time to be announced.
Coleman National Fish Hatchery lies along the north bank of Battle Creek approximately three miles e...
Coleman National Fish Hatchery lies along the north bank of Battle Creek approximately three miles east of the Sacramento River in Anderson, California. The hatchery was established in 1942.
USFWS
Critics express skepticism
Todd Reeve, CEO of Business for Water Stewardship, said he was wary of the memo’s vague language. “Any time there’s a notion that there are really simple fixes, they typically aren’t incorporating the full realm of factors that go into how we need to use and deliver and conserve and manage water,” Reeve said.
There is also another issue to be considered under Trump's memo. California is under a great threat from global warming that has already devastated the agricultural sector. The state is overpopulated and is fighting tooth-and-nail to reduce vehicle emissions while striving to have a carbon-free economy.
Back in August, as wildfires were raging across the state, Trump tweeted that Gov. Jerry Brown should allow the “Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else.”
So the timing of Trump's memo on Friday was not lost on Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources, a University of California research organization. He saw right through the memo.
"This has a lot to do with the upcoming elections and helping their base,” Parker said. “It’s a feel-good move.” And he added that it won't accomplish much. “Major changes to move water for agriculture will be caught up in courts, so this won’t likely lead to any action,” Parker said.
The Brown administration wasn't too impressed by Trump's memo. “California is advancing the policies needed to improve water supply reliability and protect ecosystems,” said Lisa Lien-Mager, spokeswoman for the California Natural Resources Agency. “We can and must do both, without sacrificing one for the other. We hope we can continue working with the federal government to achieve these shared goals.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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