Home>Articles>CA Attorney General Bonta Wants EPA to Grant State Water Use Authority

Attorney General Rob Bonta. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

CA Attorney General Bonta Wants EPA to Grant State Water Use Authority

Greater state control could lead to even more major environmental water releases, leading reservoir levels to drop even more

By Evan Symon, August 3, 2021 2:18 am

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Monday that, along with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and New York Attorney General Letitia James, he sent a comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking for a repeal of state-limiting authority under the Clean Water Act.

Specifically, he wants state restrictions to end under Section 401 of the Act that would give states more control over what they can do  to “prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution” of water within their state. Currently, the Section requires federal approval for water discharge permission.

In a May letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bonta argued that the revisions to Section 401 forced states to clear projects with the federal government and had an impact on nationwide permits, such as the Corps not including state water certifications or simply aligning by the nationwide permits.

“As a result,” said Bonta’s office in a press release on Monday, “many states, including California, will be forced to evaluate projects covered by Nationwide Permits individually, and issue state certifications on a project-by-project basis and adopt individual water quality certifications for dischargers at significant cost to the states and their taxpayers.”

Bonta says that a return to state control would help protect the state from worse drought conditions and that the Section changes, added during the Trump administration, are unlawful.

“As drought conditions across the West grow increasingly dire, Californians are relying on state agencies to take necessary steps to address this unprecedented emergency,” noted Attorney General Bonta. “Unfortunately, every day this unlawful Trump-era rule remains in effect puts our ability to safeguard this precious resource in further jeopardy. I urge the EPA to take swift action to restore California’s ability to protect its waters, which sustain the health and livelihoods of our communities.”

However, critics pointed out that greater state control could lead to even more major water releases, as evidenced by the state releasing 50% of stored water in reservoirs for solely environmental use that drained water directly into the ocean rather than go towards urban or agricultural uses.

“I’m not a Trump fan at all, but policies made under his administration really helped farmers here,” explained agricultural hydrologist Rachel Mueller to the Globe on Monday. “When he signed that new law early last year, he made agriculture the priority, cut back on water going to environmental uses, and still put in water for cities. He wasn’t doing the endangered fish any favors, but it also wasn’t killing them. And reservoir levels stabilized. It was by no means perfect, and it looked like bad news for the fish, but things were projected to stabilize.

“Then, the very next day, Bonta’s predecessor (Current U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra) came in and sued. And then other limitations were set.

“The state just stopped doing the right thing, leading reservoir levels to drop even more, and entire farms to die. But he did protect a few fish, so I’m sure all the farmers facing bankruptcy and dust-bowl like conditions forming on their land completely understand.”

Any changes to the Clean Water Act will likely be announced in the near future.

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9 thoughts on “CA Attorney General Bonta Wants EPA to Grant State Water Use Authority

  1. It’s amazing how the Demos continue to dig themselves into deeper holes. Don’t they think people are watching what is going on in this state? Let’s get Larry Elder in there and start “righting” the state.

  2. Just what California needs at this time!
    How about you start legally clearing the way for water storage and wells, Bonta?
    We need a change in leadership or we will be known as the California DustBowl.
    Water is life.

    1. Cali Girl, unfortunately, grubs and maggots will get in the way of any reasonable plans to store water and the Sierra Club, EPIC, Center for Biological Diversity, et al, will be there to defend them to the bitter end.

  3. “Stupid is as stupid does”. Good thing we have the California Globe or we would not know what is really happening in Commiefornia.

  4. California willfully fails to deal with water issues for decades but according to Bonta it’s Trumps fault?


    1. When ever there is a problem during the next few years the Dems will blame Trump. Remember obama blaming Bush for eight years? Dems never accept responsibility.

  5. The Chinese funders that want the fallow farmland for pennies on the dollar are cheering this idiotic move…

    Recall all California Democrats – they’re all in the tank for a foreign entity…

    Oh, and sorry fish – you’re not as important as people and their livelihoods….

    1. Oh, and we need to demand an audit of Bonta’s personal accounts, to see if there’s any deposits originally denominated in renminbi….

      Think I’m kidding???

    2. Boom! That is the man driver.
      In my house we say when they snag all the land they want, the water spigot will magically turn on!!

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