OROVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — Lawmakers who represent fire and drought-ravaged areas of Northern California held a news conference Tuesday accusing Gov. Gavin Newsom of mismanaging California’s water, power and forests.
Oroville resident Sharon Rogers walks Lake Oroville with her group every Tuesday.
“We’ve lived here 40 years and we’ve never seen it this low this early in the year,” Rogers told FOX40. “Between fire and drought, it’s going to be a rough year.”
Standing on Oroville Dam in a curtain of smoke, Republican lawmakers Assemblyman James Gallagher, Congressman Doug LaMalfa and state Sen. Jim Nielsen all say the mismanagement of California’s water resources could have been avoided.
They blame Newsom for ignoring the needs of agriculture in favor of a program to preserve fish in the Delta that isn’t working, while at the same time cutting back funds to reduce forest fuels.
“Where is the water? Why are you managing it this way? Why aren’t you managing our forests? Why aren’t you putting more investment into that?” Gallagher asked during their news conference. “They’re killing people. They are literally killing people with these policies.”
A few frustrated protestors at the press event blamed their elected officials for not doing better.
“I’m going to be the last one, the last rancher” said rancher Megan Brown. “We’ve been working, it’s not, it’s not fixed.”
The Republican lawmakers say Newsom has the power to fast-track approval of more water storage projects and to move faster on thinning forest fuels.
Lawmakers were reluctant to bring up Newsom’s recall election. Instead, they are relying on getting support from more Californians who are being affected by administration policies.
“In these low-water levels in reservoirs, the fires ravaging in our state, the blackout and brownouts, so people are waking up to how bad these policies really are,” Gallagher said.
“We’re seeing some more sympathy, and that’s good, but they’ve got to be loud about it,” Nielsen explained.
In response to Tuesday’s press conference, the California Natural Resources Agency sent a statement to FOX40:
Climate change is driving multiple threats to California and the West this summer, including wildfire, extreme heat, low reservoir levels and a stressed electricity grid. It’s clear that climate impacts have accelerated, and we are seeing more severe conditions in 2021 than any modeling predicted. These challenges are interconnected, and state agencies are working intensively in cooperation with the Legislature and local, tribal and federal partners to respond to urgent needs while we continue to build climate resilience.Lisa Lien-Mager, Deputy Secretary for Communications, California Natural Resources Agency
The Republican lawmakers insist that water storage and fire prevention policies were not managed with climate change in mind.
The Oroville Dam is the state water system’s tallest, but boaters and fishermen have witnessed the water level fall nearly 250 feet below average.
FOX40’s Lonnie Wong will have a complete report this evening on FOX40 News at 5.