Trump vows ‘no more’ federal aid to California as devastating wildfires continue to burn

'You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation,' state's governor tells Trump

Vincent Wood
Sunday 03 November 2019 15:18
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California wildfire: A look from above shows the extent of the flames in Vallejo

Donald Trump has threatened to cut off emergency funding to California as wildfires rage across the state, telling governor Gavin Newsom to “get his act together”.

In his latest attack on the state he returned to old complaints of forest management, including recommending better cleaning of the forest floors, as he first did in 2018.

However California's governor was quick to highlight the role of the environmental crisis in spreading the fires. In response to the president, Mr Newsom tweeted: "You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation."

More than 198,000 acres of land has been destroyed across the region this year, with fires forcing people to flee their homes as 115 structures are razed to the ground in the last ten days alone.

And at least three people are reported to have died since the most recent spell of fires began in October.

The President tweeted: “The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has done a terrible job of forest management. 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. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers.

“Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor. You don’t see close to the level of burn in other states... But our teams are working well together in putting these massive, and many, fires out. Great firefighters!

“Also, 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!”

It follows on from a threat last made by the president in January, when he claimed to have “ordered FEMA to send no more money” – however it was later revealed he had made no such request of Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It is unclear if the president will be taking any action in relation to the tweets.

California is uniquely effected by the hot, dry Santa Ana winds, which can fan flames quickly across the state, while climate change has also had a hand in exacerbating conditions, according to scientists.

In recent years foresters have attempted to increase the number of controlled burns and logging operations to thin out woodland at risk of burning, however shrubland plants like the highly flammable chaparral vegetation found in the state continue to be a problem.

California, the state of high-profile democratic senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, has come under increasing fire from the Trump administration over environmental policy in attacks spurred on by comments from the president.

In September the EPA warned California over water and air pollution – and threatened to withdraw California’s federal road funding unless changes were made.

Referencing the Ukraine scandal that has led to impeachment proceedings being launched against Mr Trump, a spokesman for Mr Newsom told The Washington Post at the time: ““There’s a common theme in the news coming out of this White House this week. The president is abusing the powers of the presidency and weaponising government to attack his political opponents,”

“This is not about clean air, clean water or helping our state with homelessness. This is political retribution against California, plain and simple.”

Meanwhile in August the president’s re-election campaign said it would be suing the state over a law requiring political candidates to release their tax returns before running in the California primary.

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