When it comes to wildfires, Donald Trump just can't let it burn out. He just took to Twitter to threaten California, saying he would direct FEMA to stop providing disaster relief funds "[u]nless they get their act together, which is unlikely."
The threat marks the latest in a long line of comments suggesting that California is to blame for its own wildfire crisis. Meanwhile, his administration has cut the funds used to manage federal forests in the West, including California. It has rejected climate change as a scientific fact, cut down on programs designed to combat climate change, and pushed to loosen restrictions on pollution, including emissions. It has propped up the coal industry and promoted oil and gas, moving away from a renewable, green future.
Trump's comments about California forest management don't gibe with foresters or firefighters, and not just those in California. Experts all over the country are extremely confused by his suggestions, which include things like heavy logging — which can actually increase fire risk.
This is a new low, though he's been flirting with the idea of cutting off California's aid for months. He wants to withdraw funds affected communities are using for cleanup and to help families get back on their feet. He met some of those families last year, looked them in the eye, and told them the federal government was there for them. Now, he wants to punish them, and it has nothing to do with how the state handles fires and everything to do with the state's politics. That's not fair, and it sets a dangerous precedent.
If Trump yanks funding away from California, who's next?
Trump needs to leave California's disaster aid alone and leave forest management to the pros. And he needs to direct federal officials to work with the West as states collaborate on timber management and wildfire risk reduction programs.
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