In exit, Calif. water official calls for “permanently reducing agriculture”

A top climate strategist with the State of California resigned last month due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration not steering the state on the necessary path to deal with continual drought.

Max Gomberg, a former water conservation and climate change manager for the State Water Resources Control Board, posted his resignation letter online last month detailing his issues with Newsom.

Newsom’s climate goals have been clear.

Last month, the governor outlined new targets and actions to accelerate progress on the state’s 2030 climate goals and to get to carbon neutrality by 2045.

He called on the California Air Resources Board to ensure that its 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan incorporates new efforts to advance offshore wind, clean fuels, climate-friendly homes, carbon removal and addressing methane leaks.

But Newsom’s work to reach his long-held goal of carbon neutrality hasn’t gone nearly far enough for Gomberg.

“Sadly, this state is not on a path towards steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions reductions, massive construction to alleviate the housing crisis, quickly and permanently reducing agriculture to manage the loss of water to aridification, and reducing law enforcement and carceral budgets and reallocating resources to programs that actually increase public health and safety,” Gomberg wrote.

“All of these (and more) are necessary for an equitable and deliverable future. I think at some level many of you know this, yet you convince yourselves that inhabiting the middle ground between advocates and industry (and other status quo defenders) makes you reasonable. But it does not. It makes you complicit.”

Gomberg blasted his former colleagues on the Water Board for their ability to tackle big challenges that were nearly eviscerated by the administration, calling it “gut wrenching.”

“The way some of you have simply rolled over and accepted this has also been difficult to watch,” Gomberg wrote of his colleagues.

He also called on some of his former colleagues to resign if they are unable to dig deep and find their moral compasses.

However, Gomberg praised the Water Board for its “commitment to racial equity,” calling it a “reason for optimism.”

Gomberg hasn’t shied away from commentary about the state’s agricultural industry, a sector heavily regulated by his former employing agency.

In February, Gomberg tweeted a thanks to progressive Asm. Alex Lee (D–San Jose) for pressing for a wealth tax.

In the same missive, he chided Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger) for “carrying water for the state’s agricultural mafia.”

Gomberg’s letter and his attack on Newsom came at a welcome sight to the California Republicans.

“The Newsom administration constantly pretends like they care about California’s climate goals, but when top advisors in the trenches attest that he is a bully, there is no denying it,” GOP spokeswoman Hallie Balch said in a statement.

“From wildfires to statewide droughts, Gavin Newsom is lying to Californians about what he is actually up to.”

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