There is little doubt that Donald Trump despises California. California’s environmental regulations have become national and international standards. Trump, who is guided only by revenge in his decision-making process, has California in his gun sights.
Trump’s first environmental barrage against California was in a tweet, in which he wrote: “California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.” In another tweet, Trump wrote: “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. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water—Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.”
These statements are factually incorrect on a number of points. California’s fires, the worst in history, are not being caused by a lack of water that can be used to fight them. There is ample water to be used by fire fighters in California’s reservoirs. The fires are being caused by climate change and the severe drought that has resulted from the lack of precipitation, not by the natural flow of water in rivers through the state, as Trump falsely and ridiculously claimed.
Trump conflates two issues in California. The first is the climate change-caused drought, which, as predicted by scientists over three decades ago, is resulting in more intense and long-lasting forest fires. The second is water usage. About 80 percent of run-off from the Sierra Nevada range is diverted for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. That is not enough for Trump’s congressional pal, Devin Nunes, who owns a dairy farm outside of Fresno. In a case of “Twitter Dee and Twitter Dumb,” Nunes replied to Trump’s tweet: “Forests should be managed properly and water should be allowed for farmers to grow food to feed people.” Nunes was replying to Trump’s nonsensical tweet that stated: “Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!”
The absence of tree clearing has nothing to do with California’s fires. However, there are corporations, which have donated heavily to Trump’s campaigns, that would like to begin logging on federal lands in California.
Trump and Nunes represent the political version of the “Borg” in Star Trek. They only want to exploit every natural resource, without regard for the human and natural consequences, to increase the bank accounts of themselves and their billionaire friends. Environmental gluttons like Trump, Nunes, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke want to divert more natural run-off from the mountains in California to Big Agriculture in the Central Valley, with the major cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, which rely on the remaining 20 percent of run-off for sustenance—to be damned.
Trump’s lies about the California fires came after his administration announced it was abandoning federal vehicle emissions standards that were originally set by California to improve air quality. These Corporate Average Fuel Economy or “CAFE” standards were adopted federally by the Obama administration, as well as by a number of countries that export vehicles to the United States.
Some White House officials are reportedly confused about Trump’s inaccurate statements about the California fires. They have indicated that Trump’s information comes from the low-information commentators on Fox News, including Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs.
In what portends to be an Irwin Allen-like disaster movie for California, Trump has another catastrophe up his sleeve for the state. Trump has given the green light for the Bureau of Land Management, part of Zinke’s Interior Department, to start hydraulic fracturing on federal lands in the state. The counties most affected by the fracking are Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, and Santa Barbara.
When Oklahoma began fracking, its earthquakes were in the hardly-detectable range. Since fracking commenced in 2008, Oklahoma has experienced several strong quakes, including a September 2016 tremblor that was 5.8 in magnitude. Before fracking in the state began in 2008, only 2 earthquakes greater than 3.0 in Oklahoma had been recorded that year. In 2015, that number jumped to 889.
Geologists have concluded that fracking causes earthquakes as a result of the injection of high pressure waste water into voids in dormant faults. The action results in slippage of the faults and earthquakes.
Trump’s friends in the natural gas and oil industry are keen to frack California’s Monterey Shale, which is a 1,750-mile geological formation that extends through the center of the state, from Sacramento to the Los Angeles basin. Some of the high-pressure fracking waste water will be injected into strata voids causing slippage of a fault that bears the very familiar name of San Andreas.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).