President Donald Trump woke up on Saturday in Paris in the mood to make threats to California that deals with deadly fires in Northern California and hundreds of burning houses in Southern California. In an angry tweet, the president threatened to get federal funding for the state if nothing is done to "remedy" the situation.
Trump is in Paris to attend a commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. But his mind was still on the disaster that was happening west in the United States.
Nine people died in a series of fires that began this week. All the dead were the result of the fire in the area of Paradise, California, near Chico. Almost the entire city was decimated by the flames at the start of Friday.
The president approved a state emergency declaration on Friday, but warned he might not do the same in the future. The emergency declarations provide the municipalities with air support, relief supplies and evacuation transport.
There is no reason for these massive, fatal and expensive forest fires in California, except that forest management is so scarce. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of poor forest management. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 10 November 2018
Trump has made similar claims in the past.
In August he tweeted"California forest fires have been amplified and exacerbated by bad environmental laws that do not allow large quantities of readily available water to be used effectively, but are diverted into the Pacific Ocean."
Fire officials said that Trump's statements and remedies were incorrect.
"We have a lot of water to fight these fires," said deputy chief of firefighter Scott McLean in a statement in August. Nonetheless, the Trump administration announced that it would override the law on endangered species to provide extra water – not needed for firefighters.
He also criticized California's handling of forest fires at a Cabinet meeting on 17 October. During an exchange with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Trump called California "a disaster" and "shameful".
"I tell the governor, or whoever will be the governor, of California: you'd better get on with it," Trump said. "Because in California, we will not continue to pay the kind of money we pay because of fires that should never be to the extent that [they are]".
Trump has long argued with the current governor of California, Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who will be replaced by Trump's antagonist companion, Gavin Newsom. The Democrat was elected in office last week. Earlier, Newsom had been married to former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, who now goes back to Donald Trump Jr.
"It is costing our country hundreds of billions of dollars because of incompetence in California," Trump said at that government meeting.
It is not clear where Trump got the "hundreds of billions of dollars" figure. Cal Fire's operating budget for 2018-19 is $ 2.3 billion.
Grants for firefighter management services, authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), reimburse up to 75% of firefighting costs for departments. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has also provided $ 212 million to the state of California in 2017.
Trump's tweet arrives ironically while he is in Paris, the namesake of the Paris Climate Agreement, under which nearly 200 countries have agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. The agreement was signed by the United States during the administration of Barack Obama, but Trump withdrew the country from the agreement in June 2017.
Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, he told PBS "NewsHour" in August believes that climate change is contributing to the increased severity of fires.
"We are not saying that climate change is literally causing events," he said. "What we can conclude with great confidence now is that climate change is making these events more extreme".