The state of California is again taking on the Trump administration’s penchant for power grabs. Now, state authorities have sued the Trump administration over the order that President Donald Trump signed just the other day demanding water diversion from northern California to the southern parts of the state, where farmers and ranchers could use the resource. California state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and others argue that the order runs on shoddy at best analysis of the environmental impacts and ignores legally mandated public comment periods.
‘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.’
It’s not as though the guy whose hall of fame quotes include that he’s “never understood wind” and that California should solve its forest fire problem by raking more was ever exactly well-positioned to make good environmental policy decisions. President Trump has, of course, made both of those comments, which came in addition to his long history of derision of the basic science documenting ongoing climate change and its human causes.
In this case, diversions of large quantities of water from the San Francisco Bay area could harm species of fish including chinook salmon and the delta smelt. For decades, official government estimates of the negative impacts to those fish populations existed — but just recently, Trump ordered the Department of the Interior to conduct new assessments and mockingly dismissed the old ones as “outdated scientific research and biological opinions.” To suggest that officials at the Interior Department would be operating under the cloud of Trump’s political pressure would be an understatement, at best.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt mocked the new lawsuit — although just to be clear, he’s himself so mired in Trump’s corruption that the internal watchdog at his department placed him under investigation after less than a week on the job. Less than a week!
Bernhardt commented, referencing California state officials:
‘The governor and attorney general just launched a ship into a sea of unpredictable administrative and legal challenges regarding the most complex water operations in the country, something they have not chartered before.’
He also insisted that the litigation could “lead to unpredictable twists and turns that can create significant challenges for the people of California.”
This situation is not the first in which California and the Trump administration have butted heads. The president, for instance, has repeatedly worked against the state’s efforts to coordinate stricter fuel emissions standards with car manufacturers, which the Trump administration has tried to upend. These efforts have coincided with broader Trump administration attempts to ease the way for industry across the U.S. — they’ve attacked the Clean Air Act, the Waters of the United States rule mandating special care to keep pollutants out of the waterways, and more, all in the service of Trump’s attempt to ingratiate himself with working class voters whose coal jobs simply aren’t coming back.