Trump administration refuses California federal forest fire aid

Top line

The Trump administration has rejected the California government’s request for federal disaster relief funds to help the state recover from its devastating wildfires this year, state officials said Thursday evening after the president Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the Democratic-led state for its handling of the fires. .

Highlights

The Trump administration rejected California’s request this week after Governor Gavin Newsom wrote to the federal government on September 28 asking for federal funds, which would be used to help rebuild destroyed infrastructure and cover damage caused by deadly forest fires.

FEMA officials said in a statement that they are already helping the California wildfires through fire management assistance grants, and that damage assessments have shown that the wildfires “n ‘were not of such severity and magnitude as to exceed the combined capacities of the state, affected local governments, volunteer agencies and other responding federal agencies.

The California government will appeal the decision, Newsom said on Twitter Friday.

The state was specifically asking for federal help to tackle six major wildfires that have burned down in California this year, with Newsom noting in its letter that five of the six largest wildfires in California history occurred in 2020. .

Brian Ferguson, deputy director of crisis communications and media relations for the State Emergency Services Office, told the Los Angeles Times that the state was asking for the “highest level of federal support,” but did not request a specific amount because the fires are still ongoing and the extent of the damage is still not known.

The federal government had already provided federal aid to California this year, triggering a federal disaster declaration during the summer in response to two wildfires in the state.

Large number

4.1 million. That’s the total number of acres that have been burned by more than 8,500 wildfires across California this fire season, according to Cal Fire data cited by CNN, including 1.8 million hectares burned just by the six fires named in Newsom’s Disaster Relief Request. Newsom said in its September 28 letter that more than 3,000 structures, including 959 residences, had been destroyed so far by the six wildfires, causing more than $ 229 million in infrastructure damage.

Crucial quote

“Many counties affected by these wildfires are still recovering from previous devastating wildfires, storms and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Newsom wrote in its letter requesting federal funds, saying “the efforts recovery remain beyond the state’s capabilities. “” The longer it takes California and its communities to recover, the more severe, devastating and irreversible the economic impacts will be. “

Key context

California was one of many west coast states to have been devastated by wildfires this year, which scientists have said. mentionned are strongly related and aggravated by climate change. Trump has often criticized the way Democrat-ruled California handles its wildfires, blaming the problem on the poor. “forest management”On climate change, despite the fact that almost 58% of California’s forest land is federally owned, compared to just 3% state owned. News that California has been denied federal relief funds comes after Trump has repeatedly threat to withhold federal funds from California for its wildfires in recent years, specifically citing the alleged mismanagement of the state’s forests. “Billions of dollars are being sent to the State of California for wildfires which, with proper forest management, would never happen,” Trump said tweeted in 2019. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I ordered FEMA not to send any more money.”

What to watch out for

Wildfires continue to burn statewide, and the Creek Fire, one of the fires included in the state’s disaster relief request, is only 58% content after burning 341,722 acres so far. An ongoing heat wave in the state has threatened to worsen wildfire conditions, and the Associated Press reports that about 100,000 people have been cut this week in an attempt to reduce the threat of forest fires.

Further reading

Trump administration blocks California wildfire relief (Los Angeles Times)

Trump administration rejects request for California disaster assistance for wildfires (CNN)

Trump administration rejects California request for wildland fire assistance (ABC News)

Pictures of the devastating California wildfires (Forbes)

California wildfires continue to rage ahead of Trump visit (Forbes)

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