- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2020

President Trump told farmers and ranchers in California Wednesday that he was delivering on a campaign promise by taking executive action to deliver more irrigation water to them.

“I promised to help solve the water crisis that was crippling our farmers due to chronic mismanagement and misguided policies,” Mr. Trump said at an event with rural stakeholders in Bakersfield, in the heart of the state’s farm-rich Central Valley.

The president ceremoniously signed a revamping of water-use rules that could provide more water by December from Northern California to farms in the central and southern parts of the state.

“It’s going to change the whole state,” Mr. Trump promised. “You have so much water, you don’t know what to do with it.”

The president also reminded his audience that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who’s rising in polls, had been caught on videotape making belittling comments about the intelligence needed for farming.

“Mini-Mike hates the farmers,” Mr. Trump said. “I don’t think he’s going to be the candidate, anyway. We’re going to start working on ‘Crazy Bernie’ pretty soon.” It was a reference to current Democratic frontrunner Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

Republicans would like to pick up seven House seats in California and “get rid of Pelosi,” the president said in reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco. The crowd cheered loudly.

The president also called on Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California to agree with the water plan, criticizing the state’s water “rationing.”

“Maybe we can get the governor to come along and be friendly on this one,” Mr. Trump said. “You have the water, you just need a signature. The tough one to get was the federal government, and you have that.”He said of Mr. Newsom, “Frankly, if he doesn’t do it, you’re going to get a new governor.”

Mr. Trump, who has criticized state Democrats on everything from homelessness to fuel-efficiency standards for cars, told the audience, “I understand your state. But you need the right government. You need the right governor.”

The president was accompanied by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose district includes the city. Mr. Bernardt said the revised water rules will provide “more efficient utilization of water so it won’t be wasted.”

In 2018, the president ordered the Interior and Commerce departments to update what he called “the outdated scientific research and biological opinions that help determine water allocation here in California.”

“Today, I am pleased to announce that this update is complete,” Mr. Trump said. “A major obstacle to providing more water for the region’s farmers has now been eliminated.”

The action will free up river water, a highly valuable asset in California. Scientists and environmentalists say diverting river water would harm the ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay and species such as the three-inch-long Delta smelt.

While campaigning in the Central Valley in 2016, Mr. Trump pledged to “opening up the water” for farmers. He criticized “insane” environmental rules meant to leave more of the fresh water in rivers and the San Francisco Bay.

The president said the new water plan will ensure that “the environment remains protected.” But he said the state government needs to accept some common-sense rules for using more of its water for irrigation.

“You can’t water your grass,” he said. “And yet you see millions and millions of gallons being wasted and poured into the great ocean.”

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