President Donald Trump said that unless California improved its forest management, he would order the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to “send no more money” to the state.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, one day after California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom issued two executive orders aimed at enhancing wildfire responses.
“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 tweeted.
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
It’s unclear from the tweet if Trump had already cut off funds or was only threatening to do so. FEMA did not immediately have a comment for the record when asked by The Daily Caller News Foundation. However, a spokeswoman said the agency would be issuing a statement on the matter, though she did not give a timeline.
Newsom signed two executive orders aimed at beefing up California’s emergency response to natural disasters, like wildfires, which he framed as preparing the state for the impacts of climate change.
“Our climate is changing — we have to change with it. When fires strike or the earth shakes, [California] needs to be prepared,” Newsom tweeted Tuesday, his first full day in office.
However, Newsom also took aim at Trump in his inauguration speech, saying he wanted to “offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House.” Newsom attacked Trump’s Tuesday night televised speech for border wall funding as “governing by fear and division.”
The California governor joined those of Oregon and Washington in asking the White House for more federal funding and assistance with forest management. Newsom also announced $1 billion in forest management spending over five years.
The Camp and Woolsey fires consumed more than 250,000 acres, destroying thousands of homes and killing 87 people. Massive wildfires have become more common in parts of California, which experts attribute to years of fuel build-up and people moving into fire-prone areas.
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. Former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown shot back, blaming global warming “deniers” for the blazes.
The cost to federal taxpayers for fighting wildfires has increased dramatically in recent years, hitting a record $1.1 billion in 2017.
Trump signed “fire funding fix” legislation in 2018 to give federal agencies $2.25 billion to fight fires starting in 2020. That amount would increase to nearly $3 billion by 2027.
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