Trump threatens to stop federal aid for California wildfires

10 January, 2019, 03:57 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Donald Trump stands alongside Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom as they view damage from the Camp Fire in Paradise California on Nov. 17 2018

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he has ordered a halt to federal disaster relief for California's wildfires unless state officials involved in forest management "get their act together".

"The immediate problem for fire victims is the first need, and threats to FEMA funding are not helpful and will not solve the longer term forest management regulatory problems", LaMalfa said of Trump's earlier tweet.

Trump tweeted that "unless they get their act together". It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!' Trump added. Experts have said this could help fires burn more slowly, but critics have noted that the federal government managed numerous state's forests and that Trump has sought to slash budgets of Department of Interior and U.S. Forest Service programs that are tasked with carrying out such activities.

It's unclear what prompted Trump's tweet, but if one were to take a guess, it might have to do with the fact that California governor Gavin Newsom is blasting Trump for the address he gave last night on border security.

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Newsom asked for $105 million to improve wildfire safety on Tuesday.

"The president not only has signed a presidential declaration giving California substantial funding, but he said and pledged very specifically to continue to help us - that he's got our back", Brown told CBS' "Face the Nation" on November 18.

When the fires broke out, Trump blamed California's poor forest management and threatened to withhold federal funding if the state didn't change its practices.

Trump's tweet ignores the fact that almost 60 percent of California's forests are on land owned by the federal government, mainly the National Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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Moreover, Trump's own agencies are responsible for managing much of the woodland in the state.

KCAL-TV reported that FEMA has already approved more than $48.7 million in funds to 6,646 applicants affected by the Camp and Woolsey Fires that devastated the state previous year.

California utility company PG&E Corp is exploring filing some or all of its business for bankruptcy protection as it faces billions of dollars in liabilities related to fatal wildfires in 2018 and 2017, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

California lawmakers last year approved a fresh $1 billion over five years for forest management activities. Jerry Brown described as a "big, big win" for California. Jay Inslee and Kate Brown of Washington and OR, respectively, sent a letter to the president asking him to double federal funding for forest management. The November Camp fire became the nation's deadliest forest fire in a century, killing at least 85 people and destroying most of the city of Paradise.

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