After landing in Fresno around 2:30 p.m., the president will hold what the White House calls “a roundtable with community leaders” at the San Luis Water Facility in Firebaugh. He’ll then tour a farm in Los Banos and deliver remarks.
During his trip, he’ll announce $173 million in California drought aid – $100 million for livestock, $60 million for food banks and the rest for conservation, watershed protection and rural communities.
“The president has been very clear that he doesn’t want any delay. He wants folks to move as quickly as possible. And the announcement today in terms of the disaster assistance is a reflection of that.” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who previewed the announcement in a call with reporters Thursday.
Mr. Obama will also link droughts in California and elsewhere to global warming. “We really understand a number of the reasons that global climate change is increasing the intensity and the frequency and the length of droughts in drought-prone regions,” said Dr. John Holdren, who leads the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Accompanying the president today: California Governor Jerry Brown and U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.
“I think you want him to see just the devastation of the drought and how serious it is and how we need the federal government to invest in water projects,” said Brown as he toured the World Ag Expo in Tulare this week.
The president will only spend three hours in the Central Valley, and his meetings are closed to the public. Your best chance to see him is at the airport, looking out at Air Force One from afar.
January brought above-average rainfall and snow to much of California, partly due to El Niño. But forecasters say the ocean warming condition is "taking a break" for the next week or longer.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says, other than a slight reduction in exceptional drought in the northern Sierra, it needs more time to assess impacts of the recent moisture on California's long-term drought.
California regulators have made modest adjustments to water conservation requirements for cities.
The second measurement this winter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was 130 percent of average. State water officials say the snowpack will help reservoir recovery.
California's water conservation rate dropped to 18 percent in December. But water regulators say the state continues to meet its long term goals.