Trump Administration Finds a Way to Divert California Water to Farmers

A new federal program will clear the way for more water to be delivered to the state of California's agriculture industry, overruling environmental safeguards that protected fish.

October 27, 2019, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

California Central Valley

Aaron Kohr / Shutterstock

Lauren Sommer reports: "The Trump administration has announced a plan to divert water to California farmers, fulfilling a campaign promise by the president, but contradicting federal biologists who found the plan would drive endangered salmon closer to extinction and could harm other fish."

The backstory for decision includes a history of the Trump administration overruling scientists on the federal payroll. When "analysis completed by NOAA Fisheries biologists in July found the administration's proposed plan jeopardized the future of endangered fish," the Trump administration removed those biologists and developed this new approach, which focuses more on real-time analysis.

"The administration's latest plan creates new hatcheries to breed fish, and relies on real-time monitoring to track the location of threatened fish. They plan to slow pumping when the fish are nearby," explains Sommer.

The announcement of the new program is set against the backdrop of questions about conflicts of interest in the Department of the Interior—Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has made decisions benefitting his former employer, the Westlands Water District.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 in NPR

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