California lawmakers release environmental bills in attempt to thwart Trump

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By Rory Carroll | SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO Democratic state senators in
California on Thursday unveiled a series of bills designed to
freeze in place Obama administration-era environmental
regulations in the event the Trump administration moves to
weaken them.

The bills, collectively known as the “Preserve California”
package, aim to make existing federal clean air, water, and
endangered species laws enforceable under state law and protect
federal lands in the state from being sold to oil companies.

“The goals and objectives of these measures… is to do
everything within our power to make sure the federal government
doesn’t encroach on our far-reaching progressive policies,”
California Senate Leader Kevin de Leon said during a press
conference in Sacramento on Thursday.

The Trump administration did not immediately respond to a
request for comment on the bills.

If the bills become law, they could set the stage for legal
battles between the left-leaning state and the conservative
Trump administration, which have already clashed over President
Donald Trump’s policies on immigration.

After the presidential election, California Democrats hired
former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served in the
Obama administration, to help in any legal battles with the
Trump administration.

De Leon said that while the state is not looking to go to
court against the administration over the proposed policies, it
will deploy Holder as needed.

“The less that we use Eric Holder, the better,” de Leon
said. “The more we use Eric Holder, that means bad things are
happening towards California.”

One of the bills released on Thursday is designed to prevent
federal lands in the state from being opened up to development
and would give the state the right to halt the sales of federal

“There are prominent members of Congress and prominent
members of the Trump administration who are on the record
supporting a large-scale sell off of our federal lands,” said
Senator Ben Allen, the bill’s author.

“Either opening them up to mineral and oil and gas
exploitation or direct sales to corporations who want to use
those lands for commercial gain,” he said.

Another bill would shield whistleblowers in federal agencies
who are also licensed to practice in California from losing
their professional certification under state law.

It would also direct state environmental and public health
agencies to protect any data under state law, even if parties in
Washington D.C. order their censorship or destruction, according
to Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, the bill’s author.

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