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President Obama pledges millions for California drought relief

President Obama came to the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley on Friday, ready to send federal aid to help California.
February 14, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
President Obama came to the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley on Friday, ready to send massive amounts of federal aid to help California and its farmers deal with the crisis.

The president said California has the biggest economy of any state in the union and the biggest agricultural economy. That's why this historic drought is of such national concern.

President Obama met with the Fresno mayor, senators Feinstein and Boxer, and farmers to discuss the worst California drought in 100 years. Obama announced more than $160 million in drought-related federal financial aid.

"I want to make sure that every Californian knows, whether you're NorCal, SoCal, here in the Central Valley, your country is going to be here for you when you need it," said Obama.

The president is also calling on federal facilities in California to immediately limit water consumption.

"These actions will help, but they're just the first step. 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."

Some Central Calfornia farmers are frustrated that the federal government is limiting water supply through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta due to environmental concerns.

"The feds have us all tied in knots. And the president is the guy to untie the knots," said farmer Paul Betancourt.

The president will spend the weekend at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage. Last June he hosted the leader of China there for a working dinner.

Friday night Obama was scheduled to dine with the king of Jordan. Among the topics on the table is the Middle East peace process.

Over the weekend the president is expected to play several rounds of golf on a course that's hosted numerous commanders in chief.

First lady Michelle Obama is not joining the president for the trip on this Valentine's Day.

The president has no public events scheduled this weekend. He's expected to leave the sunny and hot desert for the cold, wintry conditions of Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoon.


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