When Cadiz Inc. wanted to build a 43-mile pipeline to pump water from a Mojave Desert aquifer to thirsty Southern California, it enlisted an army of lobbyists, lawyers and consultants to secure the federal government’s sign-off.
The Obama administration blocked it anyway.
But the project’s fortunes changed after the election of Donald Trump—and his appointment of David Bernhardt, one of Cadiz’s former lawyers, to be second-in-command of the Interior Department.
Within months, the department had reversed course and told the Los Angeles developer it didn’t need the federal government’s permission after all.
In his first year as president, Trump studded...