California Sues Trump Over Water Grant To Farmers

Published: Monday, February 24, 2020 - 7:50am
Updated: Monday, February 24, 2020 - 11:38am

President Trump issued an executive order last week granting California's Central Valley farmers a greater share of the state’s water. California officials sued the Trump administration the next day, saying the action could lead to the extinction of several fish species.

The state’s lawsuit is attempting to block new rules allowing farmers to take more water from the state’s largest river systems. California argues this could push endangered fish populations to extinction.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Northern California saying that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation adopted management plans that are inadequate and fail to protect imperiled species like salmon, smelt, and sturgeon.

“This intervention. It’s not restoring balance. It’s really removing balance that many, many interests had attempted to negotiate for very many years,” said John Buse, general counsel for Center for Biological Diversity.

The order upsets public trust in fair use of water across the system, he said. The order affects the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, which provide the state with much of its water for agriculture. California supplies two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts and more than a third of the vegetables.

“It’s not a fish against farmer situation. It’s taking water out of where it needs to be in sufficient amounts to protect local water users as well as local wildlife that depend on it,” Buse said. In the lawsuit, California argues the Trump administration failed to weigh how this could affect a species’ survival and recovery, or consider public opinion.

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