Trump to Gavin Newsom on California Fires: ‘Get Your Act Together’; Update — Newsom Responds

Gavin Newsom and Donald Trump (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
Evan Vucci / Associated Press

President Donald Trump criticized California Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday for his poor management of the recent California fires, especially bad forest management that Trump blames for the rapid spread of the blazes.

Trump has criticized California’s poor forest management before. A year ago, the president slammed California’s forest management policies — which restrict logging, allowing dry fuel to accumulate — during the Camp Fire, the deadliest fire in the state’s history.

Although the president’s timing was controversial — he was tweeting his criticism while firefighters were on the front lines battling the blaze — others agreed with his assessment.

Environmentalists, in contrast, have frequently rushed to blame climate change, even though there is little evidence linking recent fires to the projected gradual increase in global surface temperature. For example, former California Governor Jerry Brown told Congress last week that Trump and the Republicans had “blood on [their] soul” for failing to do enough to stop climate change. He, too, made his comments as the fires were still ongoing in the state.

Some experts believe that cutting vegetation will not be enough to stop fast-moving fires, and that a bigger problem is the spread of development into forested areas.

Newsom and Trump have battled over forest management before — with Trump threatening earlier this year to withhold federal money for emergencies if California does not change its policies.

What is different this time is that Newsom is facing criticism from the left, as well. In the recent outbreak of fires, the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) company — which supplies power to much of northern California — imposed electricity blackouts on large portions of the state for fear that high winds could damage power lines and trigger wildfires.

Newsom has angrily denounced the company, but critics are upset that he had no contingency plan in place for dealing with the foreseeable possibility that now-bankrupt PG&E would start using blackouts to limit its insurance liabilities.

In his tweets, Trump also referred to Newsom’s water policies, which seek to restrict the amounts allocated to rural communities and farms, and to increase the flow rates in rivers that drain into the Pacific Ocean, ostensibly to protect the Delta smelt and other endangered species.

Trump has taken several steps to counteract those policies and to increase the flow of fresh water captured by state and federal dams to farmers and rural residents.

Update: Newsom responded that Trump is not permitted to comment because he does not believe in climate change:

As noted above, there is no scientific link between the current fires and climate change. Scientists have said that a warmer California could be more susceptible to fire in the future, but recent fires are partly a product of conditions already endemic to California, and wind patterns that have little to do with climate change. One scientist called Jerry Brown’s effort to link wildfires to climate change an example of “noble-cause corruption” — i.e. making incorrect scientific claims in the service of a “noble” cause that most scientists might in fact support politically.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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