Trump administration denies California relief for 6 fires

KQED Radio
| KQED Radio


Hey, Michael. Good morning. Good morning to you. Well, the Trump Administration did reject this request. It was in a letter from Governor Newsome back in September late September. This would mean essentially hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up damage from the six recent fires across the state, and it can be appealed. It will be appealed, but let's look at the motives behind the Trump administration's decision. What are they? Well, I don't want to see what the motives are, because this is a very much developing story. I did talk with Brian Ferguson of the Office of Emergency Services just within the last half hour. And you know, he makes it clear that they will be appealing. They don't seem particularly stunned by this they have. The Trump Administration has approved these kinds of requests for a presidential declarations in the past for wildfires and other disasters on clearly, you know, this wildfire season has been a particularly bad a historically bad one with Really bad fires in L, a Fresno Madeira counties and Casino San Bernadino, San Diego and Siskiyou. And so the administration sent this letter requesting disaster relief funds. More than four million acres burned in 2020. That's I think, double the state's previous record. And so the Trump Administration in responding FEMA in responding Said that the standards have not been met based on their review. So I did a said talk to Brian Ferguson and earlier this morning and this is how he described what the status of this request is. You know, this is not the end of our discussions in our process with the federal government. We were very much in the middle of this. Discussions with which the mother with other federal agencies can continue the letters and the legal documents for for months or even years. So we continued T work expeditiously that You know, turn on those programs leverages every ounce of federal support we can get, But this is very much an ongoing process. And he did say Michael that there are other parts of federal money that are available, like for small businesses and for you know individuals, A Zay said. This presidential declaration is the highest standard. On. So they know they only apply for these when they think they've got all of the verification and the data that they need to get it. So you know, I think they're not pulling the you know, pushing the panic button at this point. But clearly it was a surprise. And of course, you know your question was, you know, one of the motives and the initial. I think you know, the tendency is going to be to say, Oh, this is political. This is a psycho. This is trump trying to get you some back. You know, That may be true. It may not be true and it may all work out. In the end. This is not the first time That this sort of haggling back and forth has happened over an emergency declaration A few years ago, something similar happened with parts of the Oroville Dam. There were no questions about whether it was on state land federal land, so they haggled back and forth. And they finally resolved that. So you know, a cz Brian Ferguson suggested. This is not the end of the story. But it is surprising to say the least. Well, the president did approve welfare relief over the summer, and there are other sources of funding. FEMA grants, for example, is you mentioned, but no reasons were given, which is why I asked about motive, but remember the president and claim the state was not doing enough to prevent wildfires. He said. Governor Newsome did a terrible job forest management not breaking enough leaves, I guess like they do in Finland and The state faces over a $54 billion deficit because of the pandemic. It needs these funds to rebuild communities to rebuild buildings. Tio essentially fix damage roads and bridges. Absolutely, and you know, that was all included in the letter that the governor sent to FEMA into the president. Damage. As you said, you know, all kinds of infrastructure, not just the homes and buildings but bridges, schools, libraries, water and power facilities. Other infrastructure number of people have been killed. And you know this is extremely expensive and there are tremendous costs hundreds of millions of dollars for equipment and firefighters, fire retardant. There are all kinds of planes and helicopters, emergency emergency shelters, of course that get set up. So you know this is very expensive. It is a somewhat standard kind of request the kind of things that we see for hurricanes and Floods, wildfires and so on on. And as you said Trump has so far FEMA through and the Trump Administration have granted all of these on, you know, the president has said very recently that he has a good relationship with Newsome. You've Newsome was even featured briefly in an ad, which I'm sure he was not happy with the governor, but nonetheless, they do try to maintain despite all the political differences, which are major They do try toe team maintain a good relationship for just things like this, And we should mention that some of the stories that have come about as a result of this denial or refusal at this point have mentioned Wade Crow Foot. California Cabinet secretary confronting President Trump on climate change that one could assume falling on deaf ears. Well, you know, certainly. That was big news A few weeks ago when the president was here and yes, the governor's natural resource is director did confront him and I'm sure the president no did not appreciate the half. But I think we need to be careful to ascribe what what has happened here with this request to be directly related to that it might be, but it's not something that we're going to know. It's easy to speculate about Andi. It certainly wouldn't be inconsistent with the president's behavior on other issues in the past, But as I said FEMA are the Office of Emergency Services this morning at least, is not saying that and you know they're going to be appealing this initial rejection of the request.

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