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.
Last year, California saw everything from intense drought to torrential rain. Researchers and water agencies say that the future of the state’s drought depends on adapting to these shifts.
As the drought dries up California’s wetlands, traveling birds such as ducks, geese and eagles are struggling to survive and breed. “This drought is bad. The odds are against us,” a state expert said.
Drought resilience depends on location but also extraordinary engineering — determining which California places are running out of water this year and which remain in good shape.
About 4,300 users were issued notices to halt diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Experts say the current drought is hotter and drier than previous ones, meaning water is evaporating faster.
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