Trump threatens to cut off funds for California wildfire relief
10 January, 2019, 10:43 | Author: Orlando Hughes
Trump once again suggested poor forest management is to blame for California's deadly wildfires and said he's ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stop giving the state money "unless they get their act together". An email sent to them generated this automated reply: "Due to the federal funding hiatus, we are not able to respond to general press queries".
California House Republicans responded by agreeing that forest management was a problem in the regulatory-heavy Golden State but also promised to deliver on disaster relief for wildfire-ravaged communities.
FEMA has disbursed almost $56 million to Camp Fire survivors and has been working with state officials on plans to remove debris from Paradise, which was virtually destroyed by the fire.
"Disasters and recovery are no time for politics", Newsom said in a tweet Wednesday.
Just last week, FEMA extended the deadline for wildfire survivors to apply for disaster assistance, including grants to help homeowners and renters find temporary housing, among other needs.
"We have been put in office by the voters to get things done", Newsom tweeted, "not to play games with lives".
It is unclear which disbursements, if any, will be impacted by the president's announcement.
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Still, Mr Trump has not backed off, and today appeared to escalate his threats to withhold federal dollars if unspecified programs are not reformed. Their request was not considered past year and the new Congress has not taken up a disaster aid package. "Attacking victims is yet another low for this president".
Writing on Twitter, Pelosi blasted Trump, saying his "threat insults the memory of scores of Americans who perished in wildfires a year ago & thousands more who lost their homes".
"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", Harris wrote on Twitter.
It wasn't the firsttime Trump has threatened to withhold funding from California, saying the state's disastrous string of wildfires the past two years are largely the result of environmental regulations preventing proper forest management.
November's Camp fire, which obliterated the Northern California town of Paradise, killed 86 people and destroyed more than 13,900 homes. Although he blames the onslaught on forest mismanagement exclusively, it's actually a much more complicated issue - weather, climate change, human-building, and mismanagement are all to blame.
After his visit, Trump vowed to help those affected by the wildfires - "you've got the federal government", he assured Californians - and Brown had largely praised the president for his efforts.
The newly elected governor stated he, along with the governors of Washington and OR sent a letter to the federal government asking for their help in relief efforts. He doesn't have the power to unilaterally cancel federal funding for a particular agency's activities in a particular state. Many California wildfires are in non-forested areas.
The first order gives state agencies permission to consult with private firms and academic institutions about employing the best, most sustainable technology to fight forest fires.
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