On Wednesday, President Donald Trump blamed California’s catastrophic wildfires on the state’s environmental laws, and threatened to withhold federal support for wildfire suppression if the state does not repeal its environmental regulations. President Trump complained the federal government is paying “hundreds of billions of dollars” in wildfire relief “because of incompetence in California.”
The outburst came shortly after a cabinet meeting where U.S Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue updated the President on the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) efforts to help combat wildfires in California and other western states.
Despite President Trump’s wildfire relief estimations, the federal government spent less than $3 billion in 2017 on wildfire suppression and relief activities. Furthermore, while President Trump criticized California’s state forest policy, he failed to acknowledge that 20 percent of the state’s forest land is managed by USFS, and is where much of California’s recent wildfire activity and forest land management needs are most urgent. This is the second time in recent months that President Trump has blamed California’s unprecedented wildfire season on the state’s environmental and forest management policies.