Gov. Gavin Newsom angered some allies on Friday by vetoing a bill aimed at blunting federal rollbacks of clean air and endangered species regulations in the state. The governor’s action comes two weeks after the passage of SB 1 in the final hours of the state’s legislative session.
The bill would have made it easier for state regulators to counter the Trump administration’s efforts to change enforcement of the federal Endangered Species Act and other environmental pillars — at least in California.
‘Solution in Search of a Problem’
But Newsom called the bill “a solution in search of a problem.” He agreed with critics who said the bill would force the state to rely on old science and would imperil complex negotiations between state and federal agencies over how to manage the state’s water supply.
Water agencies, farming interests, and the California Chamber of Commerce were among the groups opposed to SB 1. The chamber described the legislation as a “Job Killer” bill.
Newsom defended his decision in his veto message. “No other state has fought harder to defeat Trump’s environmental policies, and that will continue to be the case,” the governor said.
Dems, Environmental Groups Frustrated
But Democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates said Newsom was wrong to veto a bill they said he did not understand.
“It’s going to be harder to get good environmental policy out of him than we thought it was,” said Kathryn Phillips, director of the Sierra Club of California.
California has been battling the Trump administration over environmental policy on multiple fronts. Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revoked California’s authority to set its own emission standards for cars and trucks. Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra have already sued to block that move.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency blamed California for a backlog of plans detailing how it would combat air pollution, threatening to withdraw the state’s federal road funding if state officials did not get its act together.
And Thursday, the EPA accused California of failing to protect its water from pollution, in part because of an increasing homeless population.
Newsom and other state officials have pushed back, declaring Trump is intentionally trying to harm California’s residents.
On Wednesday, 17 states — including California — filed a lawsuit seeking to block Trump’s proposed rules they say would weaken the Endangered Species Act.