Trump Wants to Hand Out Water to California Farmers

Donald Trump’s ongoing war with California is no secret. And he just fired the latest salvo: He wants to go over the state’s head to allocate more water to farmers in the Central Valley who claim it’s necessary to keep their farms going even if it means depriving the environment and people of this much-needed resource. While California is emerging from a period of extended drought, it’s hard to say how long that will prevail. And contrary to Trump’s claims, the state’s water management practices have nothing to do with its wildfire problem.

That’s not to say the state’s water rights are neatly organized and totally logical. They are, in fact, a mess. And the California legislature should be thinking about ways to streamline and reform the hodgepodge of rules that determine who gets to take water from where and how much of it. The state is also one of those with an unfortunate “use it or lose it” approach, which incentivizes water waste.

The tension between California’s agricultural sector, which uses 40 percent of the state’s water, and other regions of the state including manufacturing facilities and cities is notorious. And that’s just the human uses. The state also has reserves for nature, as healthy rivers and streams nourish entire complex and delicate ecosystems, some of which have commercial value in addition to intrinsic use. Especially in drought years, arguments over water can get intense. Farmers have been complaining for years that they are not given enough water, stubbornly refusing to change farming practices or reconsider which crops they grow to adapt to a changing world.

Water allocation requires periodic evaluations to analyze the environmental impacts and determine how much water can be safely used without threatening the health of the environment. It’s here that Trump is trying to throw his weight around. He’s pushing to wrap up this assessment more quickly than is prudent or safe with the goal of ramming through the results he wants, even if they would not be beneficial for the state. He’s also starving the effort of personnel, making it hard to gather the necessary data, including public input.

Trump is being backed up by the acting interior secretary, who’s been a part of California’s water wars in the past and has been firmly on the side of farmers. He’s so into water at all costs for agriculture that he even violated anti-lobbying rules to promote the interests of his former employer with the agency. He has fought for throwing out endangered species protections, with the goal of eliminating barriers to increased water use. And he clearly has an agenda when it comes to water policy.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is refusing to help with repairs for the badly damaged Oroville Dam, which is in urgent need of costly fixes to protect the health and safety of the surrounding community. That’s going to result in higher water bills for some Californians, even as Trump tries to whip up political capital and woo supporters in a solidly blue state disregarding decades of careful science and sensible regulations to hand out bigger allotments to farmers.

Photo credit: alabn/Getty Images

41 comments

zef rose
zef rose26 days ago

I think we need to clarify the word "farmers". Do they mean family farmers or industrial farmers. For it is often the latter that receives tax breaks and water allocations, whereas the former are taxed and regulated into poverty, so they have no choice but to allow the corporations buy them out. Either way, Trump, as well as any high politician would NEVER give away ANYTHING to non-elites. You all know that I hope.

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Angela K
Angela K27 days ago

Petition signed & shared

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Joan E
Joan E27 days ago

IF Trump is doing it, it's to poison the waters the way he poisons everything else.

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H27 days ago

Keep rump out of California. Well said Gene J. I am way past tired of his evil doings.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner27 days ago

California can override Trump and his Interior clowns and they should. Just block them and tell them to F off back to their Washington DC hellholes.

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W27 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W27 days ago

Imbacile Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W27 days ago

Water Nuter Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis Whitney
Glennis W27 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Lorraine Andersen

what does Trump know about water management??? Absolutely nothing. He needs to keep his nose out of things.

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