President Donald Trump is directing more of California's water in the north to farmers and other agriculture interests in the south, signing an order to re-engineer the state's water plans.
The ceremonial order Wednesday follows a reversal late last year by the Department of the Interior of its opinion on scientific findings that have extended endangered species protections to various types of fish.
Trump said the changes to the "outdated scientific research and biological opinions" would now help direct "as much water as possible, which will be a magnificent amount, a massive amount of water for the use of California farmers and ranchers," The Hill reported.
"A major obstacle to providing water for the region's farmers has now been totally eliminated by the federal government," Trump said in Bakersfield, California, flanked by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., as well as Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, The Hill reported.
"It would be different if you had a drought," Trump said, though there are concerns California is headed into exactly that, The Hill reported. "You don't have a drought. You have tremendous amounts of water."
The state is expected to fight the order.
"California won't allow the Trump Administration to destroy and deplete our natural resources," California's Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, The Hill reported.
"We're prepared to challenge the Trump administration's harmful attack on our state's critical ecosystems and environment."
The Trump administration, GOP lawmakers, and farm and water agencies say the changes will allow for more flexibility in water deliveries.
Environmental groups say the changes will speed the disappearance of endangered winter-run salmon and other native fish, and make life tougher for whales and other creatures in the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean.
After an initial study by federal scientists found the rule changes would harm salmon and whales, the Trump administration ordered a new round of review.
"Like so many other of Bernhardt’s orders, this one ignores the best available science," Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, an environmental watchdog group, said in a statement, The Hill reported.
"This attempt to harm the largest estuary on the West Coast will get tied up in court for years, and the Trump administration will keep losing until it decides to follow the law."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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