Katie Hobbs cancels land lease to Saudi company in Arizona

The governor reported that Fondomonte, located in Butler Valley, violated some rules and "pumped uncontrolled amounts of groundwater" out of the state.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, said her administration will end state land leases that for years have given a Saudi-owned farm nearly unlimited access to pump groundwater in the state. She made the announcement in a statement published on her X account (formerly Twitter).

This is the Fondomonte Arizona lease in Butler Valley. "Today I canceled one of Fondomonte's Butler Valley leases, and announced that the state will not renew three other leases in February 2024," the governor explained.

In that sense, the Democratic governor explained that an investigation by her office found that the foreign-owned farm had violated some of its lease terms. Hobbs called it unacceptable that the farm “continued to pump uncontrolled amounts of groundwater while clearly in breach of its lease.”

"After the inspections I ordered, it became clear that Fondomonte has been operating in default of their lease since 2016. I'm taking action where my predecessor wouldn't and holding Fondomonte accountable," Hobbs said.

"My administration has taken swift action to hold defaulting, high-volume water users accountable. And moving forward, I will continue to do everything in my power to protect Arizona’s water so we can sustainably grow for generations to come," the governor added.

The move is intended to prevent the company from pumping groundwater that could serve as a backup for booming urban areas. The company currently uses the water to grow alfalfa and feed dairy cows, according to The New York Times. "Fondomonte came under fierce bipartisan criticism on the campaign trail last year, and Hobbs, a Democrat who took office in January, has been under pressure to act." the NYT reported.