So Is California “Foolishly” Dumping Water Into The Ocean That Could Be Used To Put Out Wildfires?
No! Of Course Not! Even Though That’s What The President Says Is Happening…
So when Governor Jerry Brown’s office responds to those Tweets from Trump by saying “this does not merit a response”, we wholeheartedly agree.
And we wish it was that simple, But it’s not. So even though it’s Trump alone who’s creating this whole controversy — which you probably figured out as soon as you saw his repeated Tweets — and it’s easy to prove he’s completely incorrect, unfortunately we do feel it’s necessary each time he does something like this to decipher what the hell the President might actually be talking about, explain how he’s conflating completely unrelated issues to promote his agenda and bash California without giving any real thought to victims who have lost everything (or any role climate change might play), and most importantly: push back.
Here’s what’s going on:
The wildfires in Mendocino County in the Northern part of the state are now the biggest in the state’s history in terms of acreage destroyed, according to Calfire, although thankfully not even close to the most fatal. And the most recent update shows it’s only about 30% contained.
Here’s a little video from the Washington Post:
Meanwhile, some good news: a separate fire, known as the Turkey Fire, in Monterey County in the central part of the state is 100% contained. You can see that in this photo:
So what’s Trump talking about anyway?
At first we figured he’s speaking to a lot of farmers and his Agriculture Secretary these days because of the tariffs he’s doing, and the retaliation, which targets farmers first because agricultural goods are perishable. And in the course of that he’s found out a bunch of farmers in California are miffed because the state announced a new policy recently that involves pumping more water into the San Joaquin River in the the hopes of reviving the nearly completely depleted California salmon population. And yes, that water does eventually flow into the Pacific. Local politicians and those farmers call it a “water grab” and say it’s more important for them to get it for irrigation. According to the Los Angeles Times, state law in California and some federal law puts “water allocations to protect fish and wildlife on equal standing with irrigation”. And that doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing the President would like.
But does that have anything to do with the wildfires? Not if you ask pretty much anyone who’s involved with fighting the wildfires. According to that same L.A. Times story, there are plenty of reservoirs near most of the fire zones and when asked, Calfire says there are “no issues” getting enough water.
And in researching the story we came across something interesting: Trump’s been talking about “opening up the water” in California since way back before he was President. Calling state government in California “ridiculous” for “taking the water and shoving it out to sea”. In fact, at a rally in Fresno in early 2016, as reported by Buzzfeed News, Trump used that to fuel a conspiracy theory about how a long-running California drought was a complete fabrication, deliberately engineered by the state to protect “a certain kind of three inch fish”. Seems like he’s still incubating that thought.
We pointed out last year when California experienced what’s now the 2nd biggest wildfire on record, Trump seemed disinterested and did not Tweet about it until a second set of wildfires struck close to L.A. months later. At the time, we were inundated with suggestions that “Californians should burn in hell” since they did not vote for the President.