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Roundtable: California Vs. Donald Trump


The State Of California Vs. The Donald Trump Administration


Mark Sauer


Michael Smolens, government and politics editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Chris Jennewein, editor-publisher, Times of San Diego

Sandra Dibble, border reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Craig Rose, freelance environment reporter


California Gov. Jerry Brown, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Léon seem to be spoiling for a fight.

Each has declared that if President-elect Donald Trump’s policies mess with California’s priorities, it's on.

On climate change (which Trump has called a hoax, asserting no one knows the causes of global warming), Brown says the science is clear and the consequences dire.

Should the Environmental Protection Agency ground the satellites that collect climate data, Brown vows the state “will launch its own damn satellite” to collect information.

California legislators, expecting trouble on immigration policy, have already introduced measures barring state and local resources from being spent on federal deportations, hindering the further construction of a wall along the border and prohibiting the state from sharing information with any federal registry of Muslims.

Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as the state legislature are looking for ways to offer financial aid to those undergoing deportation proceedings.

Many universities and colleges have announced they will refuse to cooperate in any attempt to deport students enrolled under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Trump's cabinet choices for secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development and for attorney general are causing concern among progressive Californians.

One oddity: The election of Donald Trump seems to have put liberal California in the position of arguing for states' rights, a traditionally conservative position.

It might not be an easy sell. California received $96 billion in federal funds in 2016.

Related: California is itching to take on Trump. Here are the prominent figures leading the charge

Trump and Mexico

One of Trump's main campaign issues was how bad the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was for the United States and his desire to replace it.

NAFTA has been in effect for 22 years. In that time, Mexico has become a major force in manufacturing, with maquiladoras across the border employing nearly 3 million people.

Trump has said that Mexican manufacturing is stealing jobs from America. But Mexicans argue that the maquiladoras assemble products made in the U.S. and actually provide a way for U.S. companies to grow.

Members of the cross-border business community attended a celebration this month, hosted by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, to praise the relationship between Mexico and the U.S., particularly in "the Cali-Baja" region.

The Mexican government, which will change with the federal election in 2018, may be open to renegotiation of the tri-lateral treaty between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Mexican negotiators are also trying to work quickly on a bi-national agreement on how to divide the water available from the Colorado River when there is a shortage. The current agreement expires at the end of next year and both sides want to have a new arrangement in place before Trump takes office.

Related: Mexico's maquiladoras brace for change

Related: U.S. and Mexico push to extend accord on Colorado River

Donald Trump and climate

Many environmentalists in California are worried.

Trump chose Oklahoman Scott Pruitt, a climate-change denier, as head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has been a consistent, persistent critic of the agency. The concern is that the EPA will become utterly toothless, or that it will be dismantled all together.

California environmentalists worry that Trump and his nominee will weaken the agency's Clean Power Plan, which requires states to lower carbon emissions from electricity, and water-down fuel economy regulations. California will certainly be among the states continuing to enact cleaner and greener policies as a defense against what Trump might do.

Many expect Trump to make good on his emphatically stated desire to walk away from the Paris climate agreement. But that won't happen without a fight. Businesses such as Nike, Mars and Levi have been equally emphatic in asking Trump to continue participation in the Paris agreement.

One possible bright spot for some is that the EPA policy — robustly endorsed by Hillary Clinton — of dropping miles and miles of solar panels onto pristine public land in the desert, may soon disappear.

Related: Finding silver linings in Trump Environmental Agenda

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