Apr 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

California Gov. Newsom declares drought emergency in two counties

An exposed, dry lakebed in a California valley

An exposed, dry lakebed in California, April 2021. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared an emergency executive order for two counties Wednesday, in order to accelerate the response to drought conditions affecting the northern part of the state.

Why it matters: California is in the second year of drought conditions, and the state is bracing for another potentially devastating fire season.

  • "Newsom has been under pressure from some quarters to declare a statewide drought emergency. But the administration favors a more targeted approach," the Los Angeles Times noted.

Details: The emergency order applies to Mendocino and Sonoma counties, but could be expanded to other parts of the state if conditions call for it, Newsom said at a press conference Wednesday.

  • The declaration allows the state to move more quickly to regulate water usage in the state as well as to "accelerate funding for water supply enhancement."
  • Newsom warned that drought problems are not unique to California, adding that "drought conditions persist across the West coast of the United States."

The big picture: The National Climate Task Force briefed White House officials Wednesday about drought conditions on the West Coast.

  • The task force warned of the economic and communal costs of drought-caused wildfires and discussed conservation investments that can improve drought resilience, the White House said.

Go deeper: Drought stokes fears of severe fire season in West

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