President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued a bizarre proclamation that he has permanently ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stop sending California money to help beat forest fires unless they adopt his widely panned plan to prevent fires by raking leaves.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest (sic) fires that, with proper Forrest (sic) Management, would never happen,” the president wrote. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives and money!”
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
Late last year, Trump claimed that Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told him that raking leaves in forests was the key to his country’s success in preventing forest fires, although Niinistö has denied he ever told Trump anything about raking.
“I was with the president of Finland and he said: ‘We have a much different — we’re a forest nation,’” Trump claimed. “He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. And they don’t have any problem.”
Trump’s rambling about raking leaves to prevent fires was widely mocked by many Finns, including one Finnish biologist who explained that Finland’s colder climate does more to suppress wildfires than raking leaves. Additionally, the biologist argued that the biggest risk for Finland’s forests in terms of increasing fires comes from climate change, which the president has called a hoax invented by the Chinese government.
Trump in the past has threatened to cut off funds to help California fight wildfires, but this is the first time he has claimed to have actually done so.