In a series of tweets this morning (Nov. 3), US president Donald Trump accused California governor Gavin Newsom of mismanaging the state’s ongoing forest fires, and threatened to pull federal funding. “No more,” the president warned.
Newsom took a combative approach to Trump’s threats, pointing out that the US president is a climate change denier.
Once an unusual occurrence, the West Coast blazes have grown more commonplace in recent years as a result of overgrown forests, climate crises, and construction in fire-prone areas. Dry, windy conditions have exacerbated the problem. Last year’s catastrophic fires were met with similar disdain by the president, who warned California officials to “Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” in a tweet last November.
In recent weeks, more than 180,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. Half a million more Californians have been left without power. Trump has long believed that the best solution is to “clean” the state’s forest floors. He cited Finland as an exemplar—to the great amusement of many Finns, who photographed themselves this time last year taking up rakes and vacuums in mockery of the president.
If Trump intends to follow through with his threats, he will have to act quickly: Federal agencies have already promised millions in aid to fight the fires in California. In April, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) committed to give nearly $500 million in grants and loans to assist survivors of last year’s fires.