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California lawmakers OK bill to slow desert water project

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A project to pump billions of gallons of water out from under the Mojave Desert and sell it to people in Southern California could be slowed by a bill approved for the first time by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature.

The project by Cadiz Inc. has attracted high-profile opposition for its impact on the environment, including from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The project already has all of the necessary state permits. But Thursday, lawmakers passed a bill that will require the State Lands Commission to review the project before it can go forward.

Republican Assemblyman Jay Obernolte said the bill sets a terrible precedent. But Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said California must provide drinking water without damage to the environment.

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