President Donald Trump blamed California for the wildfires ravaging the state’s northern and central regions and threatened to withhold federal funds.
“I see again the forest fires are starting,” he said at a Pennsylvania rally on Thursday, according to Politico. “They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up.”
“Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us,” he added.
The LNU Lightning Complex, one of the wildfires caused by lightning strikes, has killed at least four people and destroyed around 500 structures, The Sacramento Bee reported. Tens of thousands of homes are in danger as of Friday and the complex is among the more than 300 wildfires burning across California.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved using federal funds on Aug. 17 to help battle the LNU Lightning Complex. FEMA will cover up to 75 percent of firefighting costs.
“I’ve been telling them this now for three years, but they don’t want to listen,” Trump said. “ ’The environment, the environment,’ but they have massive fires again.”
Trump has criticized the Golden State for its wildfires in the past. In November 2018, Trump blamed the state for its “gross mismanagement of the forests” and threatened to pull back on federal aid.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
Of the 33 million acres of forest in California, 57 percent is managed by the federal government, 40 percent by private landowners, including families, and three percent by the state, according to the University of California’s Forest Research and Outreach center.
In January 2019, Trump doubled down on his comments, threatening to tell FEMA to pull back on aid.
“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,” Trump tweeted.
Trump blamed California Gov. Gavin Newsom in November 2019 for wildfires, saying he was doing a “terrible job” of managing forests.
“The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management,” Trump tweeted. “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.....”
Newsom criticized Trump for his recent comments during his remarks at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, The Sacramento Bee reported.
“Just today, the president of the United States threatened the state of California — 40 million Americans happen to live here in the state of California — to defund our efforts on wildfire suppression because he said we hadn’t raked enough leaves,” he said, according to The Hill. “You can’t make that up.”