President Donald Trump is blaming the catastrophic California wildfires that have killed nine people on Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s environmental protections — even though firefighters there have raised no concerns about the available water supplies.
“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 tweeted today. “Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water – Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.”
The tweet was the second in two days from Trump blaming “bad environmental laws” for making the fires worse. His comments may be referencing an unrelated dispute between Brown’s administration and California Republicans over how much of the state’s water can be diverted to Southern California farms and cities and how much must be allowed to flow naturally to benefit endangered and threatened fish species.
The State Water Resources Control Board voted July 6 to make major changes to the state’s water allocations, preserving more for ailing fish populations. That vote drew the ire of the state’s agricultural groups, and state Republicans have turned to their allies in the U.S. Congress, who have voted to block federal funding related to the allocation plan.
Trump’s tweets about the fires have drawn confusion, since the state’s firefighters have said they are not aware of a water supply problem. Others criticized Trump for not acknowledging the fire’s fatalities.
LeRoy Westerling, a UC Merced professor specializing in wildfire and climatology, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday that Trump’s criticism “boggles the mind.”
“We do manage all of our rivers in California, and all the water is allocated many times over. So I’m not sure what he was recommending.,” he told the paper.