In a Wednesday tweet, President Trump ordered FEMA to cease all wildfire assistance to California, blaming the state for not doing “proper Forest Management.”
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. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
(The initial version of the tweet spelled the word “forest” with two Rs twice, prompting the word “Forrest” to become a top national trend.)
The tweet coincidentally came just two days after new California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) lobbed an insult at Trump in his inauguration speech without actually mentioning his name.
“Here in California, we will prove that people of good faith, and firm will can still come together to achieve big things,” Newsom said. “We will offer an alternative to the corruption and the incompetence in the White House. Our government will be progressive, principled and always on the side of the people.”
California saw deadly wildfires last fall, including the deadly “Camp Fire” in November that ended up being the most destructive in the state’s history, as well as the world’s costliest natural disaster of 2018, killing 86 people, destroying nearly 20,000 buildings, and causing $16.5 billion in damage. The Camp Fire was even more costly than Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which caused billions in damage to the Carolina and Florida coasts, respectively.
The decision to stop providing wildfire assistance to California may prove to be counterproductive. The Golden State is the world’s 5th largest economy by itself, given that its home to major industries like Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and the wine industry. California has a higher GDP than even the United Kingdom, which is a member of the G7. Denying wildfire assistance will likely be a severe blow to not only the California economy, but the U.S. economy as well.
Former California Governor Jerry Brown was also a frequent Trump critic, saying in September that the president was “sabotaging the world in many respects” with his environmental policies. When he visited the state in the wake of last year’s deadly wildfires, Trump suggested Brown rake the state’s forests, saying that Finland’s president told him he didn’t have a problem with wildfires for that reason. Finland’s president disputed that he ever talked about raking forests with Trump.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.