Speaking to an audience in California on Friday, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump told the crowd “there is no drought” in their state.
Trump claimed there isn’t a real water shortage. Instead, he said, state officials are intentionally denying water to farmers in the middle of the state — choosing to reroute the water to the ocean to protect an endangered California fish called the delta smelt.
“It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump said. “There is no drought. They turn the water out into the ocean.”
Trump appears to be attempting to draw a distinction between water for agricultural purposes and water for environmental purposes, the two main categories of water use that California balances. The fish that he referenced is nearing extinction and has become a source of controversy in California as some water has been allocated to maintain its habitat.
But there’s no question the drought exists.
California has been grappling with an unprecedented drought that covers nearly 95 percent of the state, and experienced one of its driest years ever in 2015. The past several years have been marked by wildfires, water rationing, and mountaintops without snow. And because California is the nation’s top agriculture producer, the situation threatens to upend the United States’ food production system.
Trump, who has a long history of making flat-out untrue assertions about environmental issues, said he would quickly fix California’s water issues if he becomes president.
“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive,” Trump said. “We’re going to get it done, and we’re going to get it done quick. Don’t even think about it.”