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Westlands Deal

Nov 08, 2019

Feds set to lock in huge water contract for well-connected Westlands Water District:  “Westlands Water District, a sprawling San Joaquin Valley farm district with ties to the Trump administration, is poised to get a permanent entitlement to a massive quantity of cheap federal irrigation supplies.  Westlands is the first in line to permanently lock in its contract for Central Valley Project deliveries under a 2016 law. Other valley farm districts are expected to follow, but as the project’s biggest customer, Westlands arguably has the most to gain. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Feds set to lock in huge water contract for well-connected Westlands Water District

Bernhardt suggests Westlands for major contract:  “The Interior Department has proposed awarding one of the first permanent federal water contracts to an influential California district for which Interior Secretary David Bernhardt worked as a longtime lobbyist.  According to The Associated Press, the contract would go to the Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water supplier in the nation. The district serves some of the U.S.’s wealthiest and most influential farmers. ... ”  Read more from The Hill here: Interior (aka Bernhardt) suggests ex-client of department head (aka Westlands) for major contract

Interior chief’s lobbying past has challenged the agency’s ethics referees: “On the morning of Aug. 21, 2018, David Bernhardt, then the deputy interior secretary, wanted to attend a White House meeting on the future of a threatened California fish, the delta smelt — an issue upon which Mr. Bernhardt had been paid to lobby until he joined the Trump administration a year before.  It was a sticky ethical issue, seemingly exemplifying the revolving door that has separated lobbying from policymaking in the nation’s capital for decades. So Mr. Bernhardt, who had, as a lobbyist, pressed to loosen delta smelt protections for a California water district, personally approached the Interior Department’s ethics referee. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Interior chief’s lobbying past has challenged the agency’s ethics referees

Environmentalists oppose Westlands’ bid to secure water:  “The Interior Department proposes to award one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural California water district that had long employed Secretary David Bernhardt as a lobbyist.  Conservation groups are demanding fuller disclosure of financial terms and an environmental review of the proposed deal for Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier. The water district serves some of country’s wealthiest and most politically influential corporate farmers.  Bernhardt served as a lobbyist for Westlands until 2016, the year before he joined Interior, initially as deputy secretary. … ”  Read more from GV Wire here: Environmentalists oppose Westlands’ bid to secure water

Groups slam Trump administration’s sweetheart water deal with Westlands Water District:  Dan Bacher writes, “Conservation, environmental justice and public interest groups today responded with outrage to an Associated Press report that Secretary David Bernhardt’s Interior Department is poised to award one of the first contracts for federal water “in perpetuity” to the powerful Westlands Water District – Bernhardt’s former lobby client and largest agricultural water district in the U.S.  A draft Bureau of Reclamation contract dated October 22 reveals that Interior plans to deliver Westlands up to 1.15 million acre-feet of water a year, more than double the water supply used by the City of Los Angeles in 2018, according to Roll Call. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here: Groups slam Trump administration’s sweetheart water deal with Westlands Water District

‘As Corrupt as It Gets’: Oil Lobbyist Turned Interior Chief Proposes Giving ‘Coveted’ Contract to Ex-Client:  “Watchdog and conservation groups called out former oil lobbyist and current Interior Secretary David Bernhardt Friday over the department’s attempt to give a “coveted” permanent water supply contract to one of Bernhardt’s ex-clients.  “Bernhardt might as well still work for his former lobbying firm, where he represented oil and gas, mining, and agribusiness interests for many years,” declared Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. … ”  Read more from Common Dreams here: ‘As Corrupt as It Gets’: Oil Lobbyist Turned Interior Chief Proposes Giving ‘Coveted’ Contract to Ex-Client

Interior proposes coveted deal to ex-client of agency head

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department is proposing to award one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural water district that had employed Secretary David Bernhardt as a lawyer and lobbyist.

Environmental groups and a California Democratic lawmaker oppose giving the contract to the California’s Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier. The water supplier serves some of country’s wealthiest and most politically influential corporate farmers.

Bernhardt served as a lobbyist for Westlands until 2016, the year before he joined Interior, initially as deputy secretary.

AP

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