California lawmakers urge Newsom to declare state of emergency amid dry conditions

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — As California continues to see abnormally dry conditions across the state, about a dozen lawmakers are urging Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a drought-related state of emergency.

“This is the slowest, most foreseeable train wreck imaginable,” State Sen. Andreas Borgeas, R-Fresno, said Friday.

Borgeas is one in a bipartisan group of lawmakers who sent a letter to the governor requesting the declaration, a meeting with water resource officials and financial assistance for food producers.

“We’re now down to a 5% allocation at the state and down to a status quo zero at the federal level,” he said. “So if you were to literally extrapolate that out and what that means to the farming community — which has to make real-time decisions now — do they plant? Do they take out? Do they allow to fallow?

“So this is not a situation where you can wait for the zenith of the drought,” he continued.

By issuing a state of emergency, lawmakers say it would incentivize water conservation across California and relax rules and regulations to give state agencies more flexibility to deal with the dry conditions.

The request comes about a month after U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared 50 of California’s 58 counties as primary natural disaster areas due to recent drought.

But following the flags from President Joe Biden’s administration, and now state lawmakers, this week Governor Newsom said he’s not yet ready to declare a state of emergency.

“We’re preparing to do many things as it relates to preparing ourselves for the reality of moving, formally, into the second year of drought conditions,” Newsom said. “As it relates to the specific declaration of emergency, which has all kinds of component parts, we are not prepared to do that at this moment.”

Newsom said his administration will be making announcements on action relating to this issue in the coming days.

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