Agriculture · Highlight

Newsom vetoes bill to freeze water, environmental regulations

Stuck between allies who supported and opposed it, California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 1, a bill to freeze the state’s environmental regulations to pre-Trump era standards, late Friday.

In his veto statement Friday, Newsom questioned “the efficacy and necessity” of the bill.

Opponents of Senate Bill 1, including five California Democratic Congressmen and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, argued that the legislation restricted scientific advancements in analyzing California’s water needs and air quality conditions by relying on outdated science.

Ahead of the final sprint of the legislative session, the six Federal legislators sent a letter to Newsom requesting changes to avoid lengthy litigation between California and the Federal government.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, worked with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D–San Diego) to advance the initiative as part of a push to counteract a wave of changes to Federal biological assessments and opinions that govern water delivery and air quality by the Trump administration.

The measure even included a Jan. 20, 2025 sunset when President Donald Trump would leave office if he were re-elected in 2020.

Shortly after the bill was approved in the final hours of the 2019 legislative session, Newsom threw cold water on the bill and announced he was likely to veto it.

“Senate Bill 1 does not… provide the state with any new authority to push back against the Trump Administration’s environmental policies and it limits the state’s ability to rely upon the best available science to protect our environment,” the Governor said in a statement earlier in September.

Valley legislators and the state’s Republican Caucus celebrated Newsom’s veto as ensuring voluntary agreements between water users and state and Federal water managers remain stable.

“I am grateful the Governor heard the pleas of our Central Valley farmers and has vetoed this bad bill,” Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R–Bakersfield) said in a statement. “California is the top agriculture producing state in the nation. Our hardworking farmers and farm workers deserve assurance that a similar measure which attacks their livelihoods will not be signed into law in future years. Going forward, water agencies must have ironclad protections under voluntary agreements.”

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.