White House to launch drought response

President Obama will announce during his visit to California on Friday new efforts by the administration to aid drought-stricken regions across the country.

California is currently experiencing one of the state's worst droughts in more than 100 years. The state is not alone in its struggles, as others are attempting to deal with the crippling depletion of water resources, the administration said, tying the extreme weather to climate change.

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"Weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change," said John Holdren, assistant to Obama for science and technology on a call with reporters Thursday. "A substantial part of the reason that is happening is a warming world."

To help those impacted by the drought, the Department of Agriculture will fast-track the livestock disaster programs approved in the 2014 farm bill, which Obama signed into law last week.

Under the bill, $100 million in livestock disaster assistance will be distributed to California producers.

The administration will also direct $15 million in specific conservation assistance for areas affected by extreme and exceptional drought, including an additional $5 million to California and $10 million to the drought-impacted states of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico.

Another $5 million will go to watershed protection in California to help repair vulnerable soil. The administration is also working with California to expand the number of summer meal sites to 600, and provide emergency water grants for rural communities, whose drinking water quality is steadily declining.

Other efforts included in the new administration drought response include reducing federal facilities' water use, more flexibility to speed along crucial local water projects and investments in climate resilience.

During his visit to Fresno, Calif., Obama will visit a farm with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), California Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Barbara Boxer (D), and Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.).