WASHINGTON, United States of America
US President Donald Trump has blamed the the California government for the wild fires currently ravaging the state, and to deflect blame away from climate change.
“Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean,” Trump said in a Twitter post on Monday afternoon. adding “Can be used for fires, farming and everything else.”
Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water – Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2018
The Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called for improvements to forest management policies, saying that the “overload of dead and diseased timber in the forests makes the fires worse and more deadly.”
Fires across the west are burning hotter and more intense. The overload of dead and diseased timber in the forests makes the fires worse and more deadly. We must be able to actively manage our forests and not face frivolous litigation when we try to remove these fuels.
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) August 6, 2018
“California wildfires are being magnified and made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”
The largest of 17 wildfires active across California have destroyed more than 470,000 acres, affecting 40,000 residents
The Carr Fire, which started scorching parts of Northern California near Redding two weeks ago, is the deadliest blaze. It has claimed seven lives as of Sunday with the death of Jairus Ayeta, a 21-year-old Pacific Gas and Electric apprentice lineman, per theSacremento Bee. The fire was 41 percent contained as of Sunday.
Where California Governor Jerry Brown and climate scientists have blamed the severe fires on climate change, Trump and Zinke instead are shifting the focus to the state’s own governance.
However, experts say that bigger fires that last longer due to hot and drier weather are caused by climate change.
But some firefighting experts and the logging industry say that forest overcrowding has also made the fires more intense.
They are calling for more frequent use of prescribed burns, in which officials intentionally set fires to take away ignitable material like brush off the forest floor and give trees more space to breathe.
Another preventative method, called forest thinning, involves crews removing small trees to reduce the amount of fuel in dry forests.
Trump’s water policy tweets, meanwhile, appear to refer to the long-running controversy over diversion of water away from people in Northern California in order to preserve the endangered delta smelt, a small fish.
Some Republicans in Congress have called for a larger water allocation for farmers in California’s Central Valley, which has suffered from drought.
Trump is suggesting that this would make the water more available for firefighting efforts. But there is no evidence that water access is a problem for California’s firefighting efforts.
California state officials maintain that they’re taking fire prevention seriously.
Scott McLean, the information officer for Cal Fire, the California State Legislature provided more than $200 million this fiscal year for forest management
But these activities are expensive. And the U.S. currently faces a backlog of needed forest management projects, as federal and state agencies have used more of their budgets responding to wildfires, rather than preventing them.
This past March, as part of the omnibus government spending bill, Congress addressed its fire spending problem by establishing a contingency account for use in bad fire years, funded with more than $2 billion a year through 2027.
The bill also allowed the Forest Service to do more prescribed burns or forest thinning with less rigorous environmental reviews.
But conservatives say that those changes are not enough, and want to enact further reforms in the upcoming farm bill to make it easier for states and counties to assist in managing federal forests, and to combat lawsuits by environmentalists that they say slow down projects.