By Craig W. Anderson 

Gov. Gavin Newsome has said he will veto SB 1 the “California Environmental Public Health and Workers Defense Act of 2019” because it would mandate California continue to enforce the baselines of overreaching federal regulations for environmental, public health and climate sectors, all of which are bad, cumbersome and expensive.

The bill was passed by both houses of  the California legislature and sent to Gov. Newsom for his signature, but he’s said he won’t put pen to paper to make the bill law because, he said, “SB 1 limits the state’s ability to rely upon the best available science to protect our environment.”

Big water battle

SJFB President David Strecker pointed out that SB 1 would have initiated “a huge battle regarding water. It’s time to stop playing games and come up with real solutions such as making more headway with storage. SB 1 has a lot of people on edge, and rightfully so.”

The bill would eliminate negotiations to create voluntary settlement agreements about water flows from the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems into the Delta.

Put up, or shut up

“Newsom’s veto is absolutely necessary,” said SJFB Executive Director Bruce Blodgett. “He’s been championing his work on behalf of agriculture; now he can prove it.” Blodgett also said SB 1 would have “undermined the Delta, encouraged the tunnel concept and had a chaotic effect on San Joaquin County’s water and the state’s water system.”

SJFB Second Vice President Jake Samuel said the bill is more about party power and attacks rather than “the protection and safety of the specific areas at the expense of all Californians, the environment, and our natural resources.”

CFBF President Jamie Johansson said in a statement, “We appreciate Gov. Newsom’s decision on SB 1. Vetoing SB 1 allows [the] communities of farmers and ranchers to continue on a collaborative path that will result in a long-term water future that facilitate economic growth and ecosystem protection and restoration.”

Strecker’s letter

In a letter to Anthony Rendon Speaker of the Assembly, Strecker wrote about “overset baselines” established by the state and that continuing to hold to those baselines – which SB 1 would have done – “will further decimate California with more disastrous fires, alternating drought and flooding, drinking water shortages and quality issues, reliance on a foreign substandard food supply and economic extermination.” He added that state agencies would “incur significant unknown costs to comply with SB 1” and that substantial “litigation costs will also be incurred due to all of the citizen suits.”

SB 1 applies clamps

SB 1 would also limit many local state and federal entities in being able to properly manage and utilize water, causing a loss of water for farmers to grow food and fiber, decrease groundwater sustainability, rationing for residential users and substandard drinking quality for several communities, Strecker wrote.

Negotiations dead, and more

The bill would also put a stop to the sensitive negotiations over the state’s water supply between the ag sector and environmentalists which have produced “voluntary agreements” that would provide flexibility based on new science. Newsome has indicated he wants to preserve this collaborative process, not destroy it by signing SB 1 which would lead to years-long court battles.

The Almond Alliance of California said in a statement that SB 1 “risked dismantling years of collaborative efforts to develop voluntary water agreements.”

“I think that SB 1 proposed to trade away the best available science for political headlines and self-righteous rhetoric, Samuel said. “It’s very big that Newsom said he’ll veto it.” He also said the veto promise has received support from a wide variety of concerned organizations.

Legal battles renewed

And Jennifer Pierre, general manager of the state’s Water Contractors Association, said, “SB 1 would destroy the ability to make voluntary, collaborative progress by starting a legal war between the state and federal governments. It’s crystal clear that there would be conflict, and no progress. Voluntary agreements … [and] using science to provide us with answers … [is] so much more powerful than the idea behind SB 1.”

Harder offers opinion

Representative Josh Harder said in a statement, “Working together with all water users provides the best hope for avoiding endless litigation on the management of California’s water supply. We know this through experience. Continuing the collaborative process … [can] result in improved habitats and protect fish and wildlife  species, while also ensuring improved water supply reliability for our communities and family farms across California.”

The congressman joined congressional leaders urging the governor to veto the bill.


CFBF contributed to this story.