By KATHLEEN RONAYNE
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California judge has declined to validate a contract granting permanent access to federally controlled water for the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier. A state court needs to approve the deal for the U.S. government to be bound by its terms. Environmentalists had blasted the deal with Fresno-based Westlands Water District as an arrangement designed to benefit corporate farm interests over environmental needs and taxpayers. It was crafted during the Trump administration under then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former Westlands lobbyist. Westlands says its acted transparently and has not received special treatment. A Fresno County Superior Court judge declined to validate it Wednesday.