Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, President Donald Trump’s chief land manager with control over vast amounts of the United States, met with Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday and discussed several California projects managed by his agency but announced no immediate action.
“We had a great conversation where we agreed to work together across the board: environment, parks, water reclamation,” Zinke said in brief remarks after the meeting.
They also talked about Brown’s proposal to build twin water conveyance tunnels in the Delta as well as the water supply situation in the Central Valley.
Zinke, who does not have a formal position on the tunnels, said he and Brown touched on “almost every subject to make sure that we’re aligned on our resources to make sure (Bureau of) Reclamation is working with them.” He added in a statement that there are several issues that “cut through partisan lines, and I’m glad we had the opportunity to talk with each other and start a conversation.”
“We want to be the friendly – the ‘yep’ organization,” he said in the brief interview outside Brown’s office.
For Brown, the meeting was a chance to get further acquainted with another leader in the new administration. While in Washington last month, he met with the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency over disaster funding for the state and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao over a stalled rail project in Northern California.
Brown spokesman Evan Westrup described the conversation between the Democratic governor and Zinke as “very cordial, and there was a real recognition that California and the federal government are deeply interconnected when it comes to land and water management.”
“We’ll continue to look for areas to work together,” Westrup said.
A former congressman from Montana with ties to California, Zinke is stepping into an office with significant sway over environmental and land-management issues here – from water infrastructure such as the tunnels and dams to offshore energy development including oil and gas drilling.
His Bureau of Reclamation and Fish and Wildlife Service will play a crucial role in determining whether the tunnels, to be constructed under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, receive regulatory approval from the federal government.
A spokesman for the secretary said he planned to follow his roughly hourlong meeting with Brown with visits to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks on Thursday and Friday.