The California Globe had the opportunity to meet with Former United States President Donald Trump Friday in Los Angeles in a one-on-one interview, while he was in the state on business. We discussed the state of the State of California. As expected, President Trump had plenty to say about the politics of our unique state.
“Water, wildfires, energy, crime, homelessness, education, labor unions, infrastructure… this is just a short list of California’s critical issues,” the Globe told President Donald Trump in our meeting.
“Water – we had water all done,” the President said. He said Wilbur Ross, Trump Administration Secretary of Commerce, moved mountains and earth to get water to parched California’s Central Valley.
Ross, together with Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2019 to ensure that President Trump’s October 2018, memorandum on “Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West” was implemented as quickly and smoothly as possible, the Globe reported on in 2019.
The Memorandum of Agreement designated Mr. Paul Souza, Regional Director for the Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as the lead official in charge of managing the Klamath Irrigation and Central Valley Projects’ compliance with Presidential Memorandum’s requirements, as we reported.
This resulted in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service updating the Endangered Species Act, facilitating the delivery of much needed water to agriculture, farmers, ranchers and growers in California’s Central Valley. Under President Donald Trump’s administration, radical Environmental Protection Act regulations were thoroughly reviewed, relaxed, and some overturned, the Globe reported.
Notably, as this process was underway, the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom took their own shot over Trump’s bow with Senate Bill 1, the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019. “This bill establishes specified minimum federal environmental, public health, and labor standards as state baselines in the event the Congress or President repeals or weakens corresponding federal standards, and prohibits the corresponding California standards from falling below those baselines. In the event that new federal standards fall below the baseline, this bill allows private citizens to enforce state standards,” bill analysis said.
What the bill really did is sends billions of gallons of water out to the Pacific Ocean ostensibly to save more fish, while farmers and ranchers were starved for water, even in maximum rainfall years.
I told the President that the first 50% of California’s water already goes out to the Pacific Ocean for fish and environmental purposes – something the Public Policy Institute of California verified in 2019: “Water in California is shared across three main sectors. Statewide, average water use is roughly 50% environmental, 40% agricultural, and 10% urban, although the percentage of water use by sector varies dramatically across regions and between wet and dry years.”
“Did you ever see the valve?” the President asked. “The valve is bigger than this room and they turn it and it pours into the ocean. But if you left that water in you’d have more than you’d know what to do with.”
President Trump said he really focused on California’s perpetual water shortage when he visited then-Congressman Devin Nunes in his Central Valley district. “I said ‘how come those fields are all brown except for little tiny patches where they were wonderful green?’ He said ‘it’s because we’re not allowed to have water because of a fish’… a certain fish.”
I told him about the Delta Smelt, a tiny, non-indigenous fish that Fish and Game officials can’t even locate anymore to count.
“Don’t forget, this is water that’s been coming down here for years naturally,” President Trump said. “If that water was allowed to come down, California would have the money and farms. It’s the most fertile ground in the country, and the farmers can’t farm because they have no water.”
“And, you know, all I needed was one signature,” said President Trump. “And next time I’ll get that signature, because if I don’t get the signature from the governor, I won’t give any money to the state, as President. One signature.”
“It was all done, except all we needed was a governor’s signature. If he [Gov. Newsom] signed that, you’d have so much water you wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
As the Globe has reported, California environmental policy says the water “flows” from reservoirs are necessary to produce a rebound of endangered Delta smelt and Chinook salmon. The State of California directs about 50 percent of its developed water supply for the environment, including wild river flows, managed wetlands and wildlife preserves, habitat and water quality control for fish, and required Delta outflows, according to the Department of Water Resources, which also acknowledges that agriculture gets 40% and urban and manufacturing receive 10%.
This is why California cannot conserve its way out of a drought – total urban water use is only 10%.
California’s largest reservoirs were full less than three years ago and held enough water for everyone who relies on them for their water supply, for 7 years, according to Central Valley farmer and water expert Kristi Diener.
In 2015, per capita urban water use fell to 146 gallons per day, from 180 gallons per day in 2010, in response to drought related conservation requirements, according to the PPIC.
The President said people in Beverly Hills tell him they’re going to be water restricted to 42 gallons a day. “They tell me this is a very small amount of water, and their showers will turn off. Can you believe that?”
The President added, “I can’t imagine that that’s good politics.”
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