President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Friday ordering Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to cut regulations slowing water supply and hydroelectric projects.
The Trump administration’s memo is aimed at speeding up environmental reviews and simplifying the approval process for building permits in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
“This will move things along at a record clip. And you’ll have a lot of water. I hope you’ll enjoy the water you’ll have,” Trump told lawmakers and others assembled at the signing ceremony in Arizona, Politico reports.
The timing of Trump’s order might partly be aimed at helping Republicans in California and Washington compete in close races leading up to Nov. 6 midterms.
Trump criticized California’s state water policies earlier in 2018 in a broader attack on California environmental laws. Trump and Zinke blamed California environmental policies for exacerbating wildfires that scorched the state at record levels during the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons. (RELATED: Ryan Zinke Blames ‘Radical Environmentalists’ For Turning Forests Into Giant Tinderboxes)
“For many years, westerners have expressed their need for certainty and access to water and affordable, renewable hydropower,” Utah GOP Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, said in a statement. “This action will increase the availability to innovative technology, improve access to water, reduce regulatory burden, and provide needed certainty from completed biological opinions.”
Environmentalists and fisherman criticized Trump’s decision, claiming that more infrastructure around lakes and rivers that interfere with the ecosystem and pump more water out of it are harming populations of fish and other animals.
“Western water mismanagement has been horrendous for commercial, recreational, and guide fisheries in California. Water users have sucked our rivers dry for far too long, and the fish have been paying the price,” Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations executive director Noah Oppenheim said, according to Politico.
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