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CA Gov to Veto Environmental Rules Bill09/15 10:09

   SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday 
he will buck Democratic legislative leaders by vetoing legislation aimed at 
stopping the Trump administration from weakening oversight of longstanding 
federal environmental laws in California.

   His announcement came less than a day after lawmakers approved the bill on 
the chaotic final day of the year's legislative session.

   Newsom said in a statement he fully supports the aims of the bill but argued 
it wouldn't give California new authority to push back on the Trump 
administration. He also said it would stop California from relying on the best 
available science. His office further said he's concerned about a piece of the 
bill that could require the state to rely on Endangered Species Act opinions 
written roughly a decade ago.

   Despite his pledge to veto the bill, Newsom was quick to praise Senate 
President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, the bill's author and an important ally for 
the freshman governor.

   "I look forward to my continued partnership with Senate President Pro 
Tempore Toni Atkins - who is an extraordinary leader on the environment and for 
our state at large - to ensure California can continue to protect our 
environment and our workers against federal rollbacks, and push back against 
Trump's anti-environment agenda," he said in a statement.

   Atkins, though, said she's "strongly disappointed" in Newsom's decision, and 
she disputed his characterization of the bill. It allowed state agencies to use 
the best scientific evidence available and gave the state authority to 
"backstop baseline standards" if the federal government rolled them back, she 
said in a statement.

   In opposing the bill, Newsom is siding with the state's water contractors 
and Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

   "We can't really have a California system and a federal system," said 
Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of 
Southern California, which delivers water to nearly 19 million people. "We're 
all in the same country here, so we need to find a way to make this work."

   California has a history of blunting Republican efforts at the federal level 
to roll back environmental protections. In 2003, shortly after the George W. 
Bush administration lowered federal Clean Air Act standards, the Legislature 
passed a law banning California air quality management districts from revising 
rules and regulations to match.

   More recently, after the Trump administration announced plans to roll back 
auto mileage and emission standards, Newsom used the state's regulatory 
authority to broker a deal with four major automakers to toughen the standards 
anyway.

   State lawmakers tried this last year, but a similar proposal failed to pass 
the state Assembly. But advocates say several recent announcements by the Trump 
administration --- including plans to weaken application of the federal 
Endangered Species Act --- have strengthened support for the bill.

   The bill could have played out most prominently in the management of the 
state's water, which mostly comes from snowmelt and rain that rushes through a 
complex system of aqueducts to provide drinking water for nearly 40 million 
people and irrigation to the state's $20 billion agricultural industry.

   It aimed to make it easier for state regulators to add animals protected 
under California's Endangered Species Act --- animals that have historically 
been protected under federal law. It would then apply the state's Endangered 
Species Act to the Central Valley Project, a federally operated system of 
aqueducts and reservoirs that control flooding and supply irrigation to farmers.

   But it's not clear if a state law would apply to a federal project, "which 
could generate years of litigation and uncertainty over which environmental 
standards apply," according to a letter by Feinstein and four members of the 
state's Democratic congressional delegation.


(KR)

 
 
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