President Donald Trump has never exactly been big on science. For example, throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, he has routinely opted to rely on his own “hunches” rather than the actual available scientific evidence. Now, one of his administration’s attempts to run with that gross politicization of the scientific process has gotten ruled against in federal court. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California has issued a ruling temporarily blocking a Trump administration demand for the state of California to divert water from the San Francisco Bay area to the agriculture industry in the southern part of the state. As a justification for their order, the Trump administration had previously abruptly thrown out environmental impact assessments that warned of the effects of water diversion on local fish populations.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, commented:
‘We applaud the court for hitting pause on the Trump Administration’s reckless attempt to expand water export operations at the expense of California’s wildlife and habitats. Today’s victory is critical, but the fight is not over. We have the facts, science, and the law behind us, and we look forward to making our case in court.’
The case had originally gotten going in February, before the Coronavirus grew to occupy so much national attention. In late February, Trump himself visited California, where — alongside local Republicans including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) — he signed a ceremonial order enacting the demand for California to reconfigure its water supply.
At that point, the administration had already thrown out those environmental impact assessments, which outlined threats from water diversion to delta smelt and chinook salmon populations. Trump claimed that the assessments consisted of “outdated scientific research and biological opinions” — but remember, this is the guy who once said that he’s “never understood wind” and has made a fool of himself on endless other occasions. The notion of Donald Trump as some kind of scientific authority is laughable. Still, he insisted at the time:
‘A major obstacle to providing water for the region’s farmers has now been totally eliminated by the federal government.’
Trump is fuming about California water. A federal judge just gave him another reason to vent https://t.co/4v1ofcNzXj
— The Sacramento Bee (@sacbee_news) May 12, 2020
Trump has belligerently complained about California water management policies for some time. At one recent luncheon with Republican members of Congress, he bizarrely complained:
‘I had a house, and you couldn’t have water. They said oh, you’re not allowed to water your grass, and then you look at this massive turn, they had a turn, it takes a day to turn it, like a big faucet, and they turn it, and it veers all the water out into the Pacific. It’s crazy.’
Trump's lamentations about water management policies in California are completely beyond parody pic.twitter.com/YtMaSDEl47
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 8, 2020
It’s not exactly clear what he means by some big faucet out into the Pacific Ocean. There’s no faucet. Maybe, one environmental scientist pointed out, he was talking about the rivers that flow out into the ocean, but it’s not as though the president’s word salad is a way in which any actually competent individual discusses rivers.
I'm extremely confused about the faucet into the pacific ocean he is describing. Is he talking about rivers? https://t.co/gSvJHIOhNV
— Cory Copeland (@CoryCopelandH2O) May 8, 2020
Nevertheless, this buffoon is the guy who the U.S. has been left with amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.