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California Resists Federal Efforts to Roll Back Environmental Regulations

California is pushing back against federal actions by enforcing state rules and standards that it says have precedence.
March 30, 2019, 1pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Jeffrey T. Kreulen

The Trump administration is working to curtail environmental regulations, but California officials are taking steps to counter the rollbacks. "Armed with some of the strongest environmental laws in the nation, California has been a leader in the Trump resistance," writes Bettina Boxall.

For example, the state is arguing that a proposal to raise the Shasta Dam in Northern California would affect protected areas and violate state regulations, says Boxall: 

California authorities say the Shasta plan is clearly subject to a section of the 1902 Reclamation Act that requires federal irrigation projects in the West to comply with state laws that relate "to the control, appropriation, use, or distribution of water used in irrigation." Exceptions can be made only if Congress directly exempts a project from that mandate.

The administration is also taking aim at wetlands protections through changes to the Clean Water Act. But the state water board is considering stricter regulations that would supersede federal rules.

Another target of the federal government is protection of endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Easing these restrictions would allow more water from the delta to go to irrigation. However, notes Boxall, the state can uphold regulations related to salinity levels and water volume that would then protect fish habitats.

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Published on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 in Los Angeles Times
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