Trump Legal War With California Escalates Over Land, Air

US Sues California Over Law Interfering With Federal Land Sale

The California law, which gives the state the right of first refusal on sales of federal land, discourages transactions with private developers for resource extraction, the US says.

The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District Court of California, also names California Governor Jerry Brown and the California State Land Commission [official websites] as parties to the lawsuit.

The law, which went into effect January 1, gives the State Lands Commission the power to block the sale, donation, or exchange of federal lands by the federal government to any other person or entity.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued his own statement saying the U.S.is "forced to spend our resources to bring these lawsuits against states like California that believe they are above the law". Fearing that President Trump and the GOP-majority Congress would move to sell off federal lands, California enacted a law in October seeking to penalize anyone who attempts to transfer federal lands. Lawmakers who passed the law past year cited concerns that the Trump administration would allow more logging, oil drilling or development on some of the 46 million acres owned by the federal government in California.

California state Sen. Ben Allen, who authored the legislation, told The Washington Post the law was "very carefully crafted" and meant to ensure the state would have the chance to intervene if the federal government sought to sell land worthy of conservation.

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"California Attorney General Xavier Becerra responded on Twitter, writing, "#California's public lands should not be on the auction block to the highest bidder!

But Acting Deputy Attorney General Jesse Panuccio told reporters Monday, the law is "another example of California avoiding federal law, and no state legislature can, statute by statute, undermine the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution. We're prepared, as always, to do what it takes to protect our people, our resources, and our values", Becerra tweeted Monday.

"The Trump Administration's assault on clean auto standards risks our ability to protect our children's health, tackle climate change, and save hardworking Americans money", Becerra said in a statement.

Sessions has also recently reversed Obama-era guidance when it comes to prosecuting federal laws making the use or sales of marijuana a crime even though state legislatures in California, Oregon, and Washington have legalized it.

Sessions also complained about a California lawsuit that challenges the federal government's recent decision to add back a question about citizenship to the census questionnaire.

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