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Obama: Figure out how to satisfy US water needs

LAST UPDATED: 01:22 a.m. HST, Feb 17, 2014

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. >> President Barack Obama drew a link between climate change and California's drought, and said the U.S. must do a better job of figuring out how to make sure everyone's water needs are satisfied.

On a tour of central California on Friday, Obama warned that weather-related disasters will only get worse.

"We can't think of this simply as a zero-sum game. It can't just be a matter of there's going to be less and less water so I'm going to grab more and more of a shrinking share of water," Obama said after touring part of a farm that is suffering under the state's worst drought in more than 100 years.

"Instead what we have to do is all come together and figure out how we all are going to make sure that agricultural needs, urban needs, industrial needs, environmental and conservation concerns are all addressed," he said.

Even if the U.S. takes immediate action to curb pollution, the planet will keep getting warmer for a long time to come because of greenhouse gases that already have built up, he said.

"We're going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for," Obama said, announcing more than $160 million in federal financial aid. The sum includes $100 million in the farm bill he signed into law last week for programs that cover the loss of livestock.

The package includes smaller aid amounts for the most extreme drought areas and to help food banks serving families affected by the water shortage. Obama also called on federal facilities in California to begin conserving water immediately.

"These actions will help, but they're just the first step," he said. "We have to be clear. A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods, are potentially going to be costlier and they're going to be harsher."

The budget Obama will send Congress next month includes $1 billion for a "climate resilience fund" to invest in research and pay for new technologies to help communities deal with climate change. The proposal is likely to face stiff opposition from lawmakers wary of new spending and divided on global warming.

Obama urged Congress to act swiftly on Democratic legislation backed by California's senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, that would pour $300 million into emergency aid and drought-relief projects, upgrade city water systems and water conservation, and speed up environmental reviews of water projects.

The White House has threatened to veto a Republican, House-passed bill that would roll back environmental protections and temporarily halt the restoration of a dried-up stretch of the San Joaquin River, work that is designed to restore historic salmon runs. The White House says the measure would not alleviate the drought but would undo decades of work to address California's longstanding water shortages.

In the evening, Obama met Jordan's King Abdullah II at the Rancho Mirage estate Sunnylands for talks focused largely on Syria.

Obama announced he would seek authority from Congress for new financial aid for Jordan, a key Arab ally of the U.S., including $1 billion in loan guarantees to help it manage the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Syrian war. He also wants to renew a five-year aid program for the kingdom.

Jordan's economy is struggling in part because of the influx of the nearly 600,000 refugees seeking an escape from the day-to-day death and destruction from the civil war in next-door Syria, which began in 2011.

The refugees have overwhelmed Jordan, a country of 6 million people, straining its health care and education systems and other resources. Jordanians fear the spillover violence from Syria and the potential the presence of the refugees could create a regional base for extremists and terrorists.

Obama was spending the weekend at the sprawling desert estate built by billionaire philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg. He traveled without first lady Michelle Obama.

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kekelaward wrote:
More dem rip offs and slush funds. maybe getting the EPA and the Feds out of local issues might help.
on February 15,2014 | 11:40AM
kekelaward wrote:
It is nice to see preezy getting out and about though.
on February 15,2014 | 11:41AM
thepartyfirst wrote:
kekelaward-you mean why is he always out campaigning?
on February 15,2014 | 03:28PM
HD36 wrote:
Obama is the newly appointed, self annointed czar of all things related to the weather and climate. He will do a sacred rain dance to bring the earth back to life. Get on your knees and bow in the presence of greaatness.
on February 15,2014 | 12:26PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Of course Barry walks on water. Or at least that is what some folks say.
on February 15,2014 | 02:06PM
SteveToo wrote:
The only Climate Change I see is it going back to the way it was in the 1960's and 70's. Man has nothing to do w/it.
on February 15,2014 | 03:06PM
serious wrote:
Agreed, John Steinback would roll over in his grave.
on February 16,2014 | 05:03AM
sluggah wrote:
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Bawwy is just trying to distract people from his record, broken promises, and the dismal failure of the ACA.
on February 15,2014 | 04:07PM
st1d wrote:
"A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods . . . "

nothing like hedging on all possibilities.

look, we agree that climate changes, evidenced by summer, fall, winter and spring. where we differ is blaming man for ushering in the climate changes.

since climate changes occurred before man existed, man as the main cause for climate change is a ridiculous belief bordering on cult religion with gore as a low priest.

on February 15,2014 | 07:54PM
palani wrote:
California's water woes are the direct consequence of (1) farming in a desert environment, and (2) diverting water resources from those desert farmers to protect the endangered longfin smelt. Fish before people, I guess.
on February 16,2014 | 03:48AM
HD36 wrote:
How can they, (government ) win the war on climate change when the can't even win the war on drugs and poverty?
on February 16,2014 | 07:50AM
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