Before convening for what has now become a month-long recess, the Senate battled over an omnibus trailer bill on public resources as part of the state budget package.
Among the debates, Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield pushed back on a proposal allowing the State Water Resources Control Board to allocate some water rights certifications before environmental reviews are completed. Grove called it “just another assault on our water supply for our farmers" that would harm Central Valley jobs as well as food security.
Republican Jim Nielsen of the Sacramento Valley said it was part of continuing trend of granting “more power and authority” to state agencies.
“Unless it is litigated, then it stands,” he said.
Moderate Democrat Anna Caballero of Salinas also promised to vote against the measure, saying it would have “a deleterious impact on a major energy producer in my region.” She feared it would inhibit the Merced Irrigation District’s effort to renew a federal license for its hydropower system.
Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month of Agri-Pulse or Agri-Pulse West by clicking here.
Defending the measure at length, Bob Wieckowski of Fremont said, “It simply preserves the state of California's rights that the Trump administration is attempting to take away at this moment.” He added that the administration’s proposed changes to the Clean Water Act would “drastically roll back” the board’s authority for this and seven other projects for the next 50 years.
The trailer bill also removed a provision for the Air Resources Board to reopen rulemaking on the state’s cap-and-trade market. “Instead, the Newsom administration and the CalEPA secretary have made a commitment to work with this legislature” on updating the program in the public arena, according to an administration official.