"There is no drought," Republican presidential-hopeful Donald Trump told a crowd of voters on parched California soil on Friday. "We're going to solve your water problem."
In his speech, the presumptive Republican nominee was referring to the state's current struggle to allocate its water resources as it enters its fifth year of punishing drought conditions. Despite a much-needed El Niño event in 2016, the U.S. Drought Monitor still lists 61% of California as experiencing a "severe drought."
"You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they're taking the water and shoving it out to sea," seemingly a reference to efforts to protect the environment and endangered wetlands by allowing water to be diverted away from agricultural use.
The politician was seemingly siding with farmers who argue that state officials too frequently take the side of environmentalists, which they say cuts into the water supply their industry needs to create profits.
Tim Worstall at Forbes argues that the belief that Californians are suffering from a misallocation of water first, and an actual, dire shortage of the resource second, is what Trump is really getting at — and he isn't wrong:
What there is is misallocation of water and that misallocation is because water is incorrectly priced there. The solution therefore is to get the pricing right: then the allocation will be. We also know something more about this: it doesn't matter what the current or original allocations are. Getting the price right will solve the problem.
Trump has expressed disinterest in environmental concerns in the past: he has previously vowed to walk back some of America's progressive environmental policies if elected, including reviving the U.S. oil and coal industries and yanking the country out of the United Nations climate agreement.