Trump threatens to cut funding to California over wildfire conditions

Photo: Gephardt Daily

Nov. 3 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Sunday again suggested he would cut federal funding to California, blaming Gov. Gavin Newsom for the state’s forest management practices that have led to wildfires.

Trump wrote on Twitter that Newsom “has done a terrible job of forest management,” saying the Democratic governor has ignored his suggestions for steps to mitigate wildfire risks as the state attempts to handle multiple blazes.

“I told him from the first day we met that he must ‘clean’ his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him,” wrote the president. “Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers … Every year, as the fire’s rage and California burns, it is the same thing and then he comes to the federal government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together governor.”

Speaking to reporters after landing on the south lawn of the White House later on Sunday, Trump continued to criticize Newsom describing him as “like a child.”

Newsom responded with a tweet of his own, dismissing Trump’s criticisms.

“You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation,” he wrote.

Trump also placed blame on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents the Bay Area, saying she has neglected the issues and focused too much of her attention on impeaching him.

“Nancy Pelosi ought to go back to her district and take care of it because her district has become a mess,” he said.

Trump is blaming the state though 60 percent of the state’s forests are under federal management. In addition, some of the fires were in urban areas and not started in forests.

And experts, including firefighters, have said forest management is not to blame but instead climate change and urbanization.

“It’s not a self-made problem. I mean it’s a national disaster when you have winds of over 100 miles per hour and you have a utility that turns off the electricity and then turns it back on and it sparks and creates yet another fire,” Democratic California Rep. Jackie Speier said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “You know the president has a serious problem with California, because they didn’t support him and so now he’s trying to take some action against them.

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Pacific Gas & Electric, which is in bankruptcy, has been blamed for sparking deadly wildfires because its equipment is outdated.

On Friday, Newsom threatened the state would take over utility if it does’t present a plan focused on safety once it emerges from bankruptcy.

Trump praised the efforts of firefighters in the state and noted that “you don’t see close to the level of burn in other states.”

He added, “open up the ridiculously closed water lanes coming down from the North. Don’t pour it out into the Pacific Ocean. Should be done immediately. California desperately needs water, and you can have it now!”

In January, Trump tweeted he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stop disbursing money to California to deal with forest fires.

“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” Trump tweeted. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”

Trump never sent such a directive, BuzzFeed News reported.

The Kincade Fire, the largest of the fires currently active in the state, was 76 percent contained as of Sunday morning, having burned 77,758 acres, according to Cal Fire.

Cal Fire also reported that the 328-acre 46 Fire was 95 percent contained, the Maria fire burned 9,412 acres at 50 percent containment and the Burris fire was 98 percent contained having burned 703 acres.

In all, wildfires have burned a total of 260,000 acres in California as of the beginning of November, less than the 1.8 million burned in 2018 and 1.3 million burned in 2017.

AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers estimated the total damage and economic loss caused by California wildfires in 2019 will reach $80 billion by the end of the year.

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