Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Exclusive: Garamendi slams Trump directive over California water projects

October 23, 2018
In The News

Ask any environmental policy expert and they’ll tell you that water rights, water supply and water quality initiatives are complicated and contentious issues in California.

Those issues are about to get a whole lot more complicated.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a memo ordering federal agencies to reviewcertain regulations and programs that conservatives argue impede water delivery efforts to agricultural producers in California’s Central Valley. Those regulations, some argue, are keeping much-needed water from flowing farmers who need it the most; Trump’s memo on Friday urged agencies to “suspend, revise or rescind any regulations or procedures that unduly burden” that stand in the way of those projects.

The California Farm Bureau Federation, an agriculture advocacy group, championed the move, saying the president fulfilled a long-standing promise to provide “welcome relief to Western farmers, cities, rural communities and wildlife refuges that have struggled under water supply rules that are long overdue for an update.”

“The president’s action today fulfills his campaign commitment to help solve the state’s water supply shortages and will greatly benefit Central Valley communities and the environment,” the agency said in a press release. “This action will also help address water shortages that have occurred across the West as the result of federal regulations overseen by multiple agencies.”

But Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat whose Congressional district covers Winters and portions of rural Northern California, told the Express by phone that the president’s directive would complicate environmental conservation efforts that could have long-term consequences for some species of fish found in the Sacramento River and San Joaquin Delta and might lead to diminished water quality for millions of Californians.

“The president’s directive is one more thing to prove that this president has no regard for the environment,” Garamendi said during an interview Friday afternoon, adding that the latest move was just one in a series of steps taken by Republicans over the last few years to undermine the state’s ability to “control its own water destiny…or the ability of Californians to use the courts to protect the water and environmental issues of the state.”

Garamendi was referring to a proposal put forth in a May appropriations bill by Rep. Ken Calvert, a Republican from Corona, that would effectively ban citizens from challenging the controversial Delta twin tunnels project in court. Garamendi, a vocal opponent of the project, said Calvert’s move would lead to an all-out “brawl” when the House reconvened later in the day and said he would be “looking for” Calvert to speak with him.

Calvert’s appropriations bill was narrowly approved by the House of Representatives in July.

“The Republicans in Congress have passed three pieces of legislation in the last six years that remove all environmental protections for the rivers of California,” Garamendi said on Friday. “So as long as the Congress is controlled by the Republicans, the Republicans have made it very clear that they do not care about protecting the environment of California.”