President Trump seemed to threaten to withhold funding to fight forest fires in California if the state did not work to remove more “old trees” from “dirty” forests, reports The Guardians.
“California’s a mess. We’re giving billions and billions of dollars for forest fires in California,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Wednesday.
“They are leaving them dirty,” Trump said of California’s forests. “Old trees are sitting there, rotting and drying. And instead of cleaning it up, they don’t touch them, they leave them. And we end up with these massive fires that we’re paying hundreds of billions of dollars for to fix, and the destruction is incredible.”
“I think California ought to get their act together and clean up their forests and manage their forests,” he continued.
“It’s costing our country hundreds of billions of dollars because of incompetence in California,” Trump said. “It’s hurting our budget, it’s hurting our country. And they just better get their act together.”
— The Hill (@thehill) October 17, 2018
The Hill notes:
The state has seen some of its worst and most costly fires in recent months. California’s state wildfire agency spent $773 million fighting fires in the fiscal year that ended in June, triple the amount from just five years ago.
That doesn’t include the federal government’s costs, which come from Interior Department and Forest Service firefighting and Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster funding.
Trump has previously blamed recent fires on the state’s decisions to let water flow out to the Pacific Ocean instead of diverting it to storage, farms or other uses. California officials pushed back at the time saying they were not short on water for fighting fires.
“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized,” Trump tweeted in August. “It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”