- The Washington Times - Friday, December 5, 2014

After golfing on some of California’s biggest water-guzzling courses, President Obama has issued a veto threat against drought-relief legislation for California.

The White House said Friday night that Mr. Obama would likely veto the bill because it makes “operational determinations regarding the use of limited water resources during the ongoing drought” and contains other provisions that could lead to litigation over environmental protection issues.

The bill to be voted on by the House next week would boost irrigation deliveries to farms, encourage planning for new dams and capture more storm runoff for human use.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, expressed concern this week that the bill could “reignite the water wars” by overriding certain federal protections. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, is among those supporting the legislation.

In February, after holding events in California to highlight the state’s drought needs, Mr. Obama golfed on two courses in the Coachella Valley that consume nearly 1 million gallons of water per day, nearly four times as much as the average golf course in the U.S.

Golf courses in the valley consume roughly 17 percent of all water there, and one quarter of the water pumped out of the region’s at-risk groundwater aquifer, Time magazine reported.

In its veto threat, the White House said the administration “takes seriously the ongoing drought that has affected communities, producers and water users across much of the country, including the especially hard hit State of California.”

Since the president’s visit to Fresno, the administration said, it has undertaken a number of steps to help those most affected by drought, including assistance to tens of thousands of residents of the hardest-hit areas.

The White House said the drought relief bill “appears to include a number of potentially conflicting mandates which can create confusion and undermine environmental laws, making it ripe for future litigation.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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