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Dublin: 15°C Saturday 19 June 2021

Donald Trump threatens to withhold funding for fighting California wildfires

Trump blamed the California governor for the fires.

This isn't the first time Donald Trump has targeted California.
This isn't the first time Donald Trump has targeted California.
Image: Sipa USA/SIPA USA/PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has threatened to withhold federal aid from California after its Democratic governor criticised his environmental policies.

Over the past two weeks, fires have ravaged nearly 100,000 acres in the state, where firefighters yesterday were battling the Maria Fire, about 100 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles.

Taking a line of attack he first used last year when fires killed 86 people in northern California, Trump blamed Governor Gavin Newsom, saying he had done “a terrible job of forest management”. 

“Every year, as the fire’s (sic) rage & California burns, it is the same thing-and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more. Get your act together Governor,” he said on Twitter.  

Newsom, responding on Twitter, brushed off Trump’s criticism: “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

Newsom had offered a fuller critique in a recent interview with The New York Times, pointing to Trump’s roll-back of environmental protections.

“We’re waging war against the most destructive fires in our state’s history and Trump is conducting a full-on assault against the antidote,” he said.

The president has on several occasions openly questioned the scientific consensus that human activity causes changes in the climate and the drought that has contributed to the California fires.

His administration decided on 18 September to revoke California’s authority to set its own standards for automobile pollution.

Newsom criticised the Republican government’s ambivalence in dealing with the disasters.

“Last night they approved seven additional emergency grants in record time,” Newsom told the New York Times. “But what’s so insidious, and what’s so remarkable is that he’s doing everything right to respond to these disasters and everything wrong to address what’s happening to cause them.”

Firefighters were continuing to press their fight against the Maria Fire, which they said yesterday is now 70% contained, and the Kincade Fire north of San Francisco, now 78% contained.

Other fires, including some that threatened multi-million-dollar homes and iconic institutions in the Los Angeles area, have subsided, and residents who had evacuated are beginning to return home.

 - © AFP 2019

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