Trump’s ignorance on wildfires leads to new administration policy

 msnbc.com  8/9/2018 1:23:56 PM   Steve Benen

While officials in northern California tackled a deadly wildfire, Donald Trump took the opportunity to peddle gibberish on the subject. Earlier this week, the president blasted Gov. Jerry Brown (D), falsely blamed “bad environmental laws” for exacerbating the crisis, and argued that firefighters didn’t have necessary amount of water to address the problem.

None of what Trump said made sense. The Washington Post  reported, for example, that the president seemed confused about every relevant detail. CNN added that even some White House officials “admitted to being slightly perplexed” at Trump’s obvious nonsense.

All of which laid the groundwork for this unexpected Axios report.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to “facilitate access to the water” needed to fight ongoing wildfires, rather than continue to provide some of it for protecting endangered species, such as chinook salmon.

The policy directive follows tweets President Trump sent that were met with confusion by California officials, including firefighters, who said the state has more than enough water to combat the blazes.

So, the Trump administration wants to provide additional water to officials who’ve already made clear that they don’t need more water, in response to confused tweets from an amateur president.

This is how the world’s preeminent superpower tries to govern in 2018.

There is, however, an underlying debate that matters. There’s been an ongoing dispute over water flowing into San Francisco Bay to support wildlife – including some endangered species – and there are plenty who’ve argued the water should instead be used to support agriculture in the area.

What does this have to do with fighting fires? By all accounts, nothing, though Trump doesn’t seem to understand that.

That said, as the Axios report quoted above added, the administration’s new directive “appears to prioritize firefighting needs above water allocation requirements under the Endangered Species Act.”

And that raises a separate question. It’s easy to point and laugh at Trump’s ignorance, and his willingness to flaunt his confusion, but if the president’s latest position is part of a larger campaign against the Endangered Species Act and wildlife protections, it’s no laughing matter.

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