Nov 4, 2019

Trump threatens to cut federal aid for California wildfires

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and President Trump view damage from wildfires in Paradise, California, November 2018. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump lashed out at California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) Sunday in a series of tweets in which he threatened to cut U.S. funding to California for the wildfires that have engulfed the state this fall.

Why it matters: As California spearheads liberal states' efforts against Trump in the lead-up to the 2020 elections, Newsom and the president have clashed on several issues.

  • This is Trump's first major tweet on California's devastating wildfires since the massive Kincade Fire erupted on Oct. 23.

What he's saying: Trump tweeted that Newsom had 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," Trump tweeted.
"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!"
— Trump lashes out at Newsom on Twitter

Reality check: The federal government manages most forest land, whereas the state is responsible for a small percentage of it, as AP points out.

The big picture: Trump made similar funding cut threats over the 2018 Malibu and Paradise wildfires in California during which he accused the state of "gross mismanagement" of forests, AP reports.

  • In November 2018, Andrew Freedman noted in an Axios article that Trump "touted the virtues of Finland's 'raking' of the forest floor to clear it of flammable material, thereby averting wildfires like those California has seen over the past 13 months."
  • Freedman pointed out that Finland's forest management practices "are not a panacea and don't center around raking. Rather, they consist of some of the same tactics used in the U.S., including setting controlled burns, thinning forests, and clearing brush and trees from around communities to create a buffer between human settlements and the forest."
  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris picked up on the raking point as she sided with Newsom in the Twitter dual.

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California fire season could last until December

A firefighter douses flames from a backfire during the Maria Fire in Santa Paula, California, on Nov. 1. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

California could continue to endure wildfires until December as a late start to the rainy season looks increasingly likely — particularly in the south of the state, the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center warns in a new report.

This may be a long fall and winter across California for both the fire-fighting community and the general public in terms of coping with the threat of fires."
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California won't buy from automakers who side with Trump on emissions

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California confirmed Monday that it won't buy new government vehicles from automakers who backed President Trump in his carbon emissions war with the state, the New York Times reports. GM, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota are among those set to be affected by the move.

Driving the news: The three big automakers and others announced in October that they were joining the Trump administration's side in litigation over its move to stop California from imposing emissions rules and, by proxy, mileage requirements that are tougher than federal standards, per Axios' Ben Geman.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019

California wildfires: What you need to know

A firefighter controls a hotspot of the Maria Fire in Ventura County, Calif., on Saturday. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

California firefighters are winning the fight against a series of wildfires in the state, with official figures showing most blazes at least 75% contained and several others fully contained or extinguished by Tuesday night. But authorities warn the fire danger isn't over yet.

What's new: A new report warns the fire season could continue through December. Firefighters were dealing with a new fire in a remote area of Lake County, near Clearlake. CalFire said the blaze, named the Eagle Fire, had burned 75 acres and was 56% contained by Tuesday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 6, 2019