Quantcast

Trump Threatens to Cut Off California Wildfire Aid

Residents watch the motorcade pass during President Donald Trump visit of the Camp Fire in Chico, California on November 17, 2018. Paul Kitagaki Jr.-Pool / Getty Images

What does Trump have against California? Without prompting or explanation, the president tweeted Wednesday that he ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to halt funding for its wildfire relief unless "they get their act together."

"Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen," he wrote. "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!" An earlier tweet that misspelled the word "forest" was replaced with the one that's up now.


This isn't the first time the president pointed the finger at California's forest management. Last year, Trump threatened to withhold relief funds and incorrectly blamed its infernos on the state's "gross mismanagement of the forests" even though most of the fires burned on federal land.

Trump has also brushed aside the role of climate change making the fires worse, saying "a lot of factors" contributed to the fires. He even suggested that California's problem was it didn't rake its forests enough, a comment that was widely ridiculed.

Firefighters associations blasted the president's latest missive, calling them particularly insensitive after the deadly and overwhelming destruction caused by the 2018 blazes.

For one, Northern California's record-breaking Camp Fire that ignited in early November killed 86 people, incinerated thousands of buildings and destroyed the town of Paradise. (Trump ultimately approved a disaster declaration for the state on Nov. 12 to unlock federal funds.)

California Professional Firefighters president Brian Rice called Trump's comments "deplorable" and "flat wrong" as nearly 60 percent of the state's forests are controlled by the federal government.

Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, had similar sentiments.

"This is yet another unimaginable attack on the dedicated professionals who put everything on the line, including their own homes, to protect their neighborhoods," he said in a news release. "While our president is tweeting on the sidelines in DC, our fellow Americans 3,000 miles to the west are mourning loved ones, entire communities have been wiped off the map and thousands of people are still trying to figure out where they are going to call home."

Democratic lawmakers in California also sharply rebuked the president.

"Californians endured the deadliest wildfire in our state's history last year. We should work together to mitigate these fires by combating climate change, not play politics by threatening to withhold money from survivors of a deadly natural disaster," Senator Kamala Harris tweeted.

California's new Gov. Gavin Newsom—who on Tuesday pledged $105 million in new spending to prevent, fight and escape wildfires—also responded to the president.

Newsom tweeted that he and the governors of Oregon and Washington sent a letter asking the federal government "to work with us in taking on these unprecedented wildfires."

"Disasters and recovery are no time for politics," Newsom said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of San Francisco, tweeted that Trump's comments "insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires last year & thousands more who lost their homes."

She also urged House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, California to "condemn & and call on POTUS."

FEMA news desk manager Michael Hart told POLITICO he was unclear about what Trump's orders would entail, but added that a follow-up on Trump's tweet would be released soon.

The agency does not have funding due to the ongoing government shutdown, now in its third week. However, according to a Department of Homeland Security shutdown plan, of FEMA's 19,631 employees, 15,208 are considered essential and are working through the shutdown.

Its website currently says it is "actively contacting California Wildfire survivors to determine their housing needs and working diligently to identify additional short-term and long-term housing options."

Just yesterday, the reinsurance firm Munich Re listed the Camp Fire as the world's costliest natural disaster of 2018, racking up $16.5 billion in damages.

We'll leave you with this amazing clapback from the Sierra Club:

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

In tea, food, or just on your windowsill, embrace the fragrance and fantastic healing potential of herbs.

Read More Show Less

By Ana Santos Rutschman

The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
MartinPrescott / iStock / Getty Images

On Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first 20 chemicals it plans to prioritize as "high priority" for assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Given the EPA's record of malfeasance on chemicals policy over the past two years, it is clear that these are chemicals that EPA is prioritizing to ensure that they are not properly evaluated or regulated.

Read More Show Less
Strawberries top the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of U.S. produce most contaminated with pesticides. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP / Getty Images

Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That's the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

Read More Show Less
A drilling rig in a Wyoming natural gas field. William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal leases in Wyoming Tuesday, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "did not sufficiently consider climate change" when auctioning off the land, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mizina / iStock / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they're packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Read More Show Less
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City. Ben Sutherland / CC BY 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less