Despite using his first press conference as governor in 2019 to make a promise to Californians on the issue of wildfires, Newsom’s 2.5 year term has shown his utter incompetence in handling the golden state’s burning forests.
“Everybody has had enough,” Newsom said during the conference right after signing an executive order to overhaul California’s fire prevention efforts.
A recent investigation into what the governor is saying – versus the reality of what’s actually happening behind the scenes – shows two different pictures.
According to the investigation, Newsom has overstated, by an astonishing 690 percent, the number of acres treated with fuel breaks and prescribed burns in the forestry project he said needed to be prioritized in order to protect vulnerable communities that are at risk of burning.
As part of the executive order signed on his first day, he has since claimed that the 35 priority projects carried out from the order have resulted in fire prevention work being completed on 90,000 acres – though the investigation showed that it is actually only 11,399 acres.
In other words, Newsom has only done 13 percent of the job he is claiming to have done on his highest priority wildfire projects.
Despite his promises to do everything he can to fight wildfires, he has governed over the highest record of fires the state has ever seen. In 2020, 4.3 million acres were burned, which more than doubles the previous 2018 record.
Newsom has also been advising President Biden on how to proceed on fire-related issues, which is ironic based on how he has been handling California’s wildfires. During a meeting with Western governors, Newsom criticized the U.S. Forest Service’s “wait and see” idea regarding forest fires, where he told Biden that the Tamarack fire, a fire on federal land in California, was caused due to the Forest Service not putting enough firefighters in the area before the fire took off.
The governor has also been purposely misleading the public on how much funding is going towards fire prevention. In 2019, the state budget allocated $355 million for wildfire prevention and resource management, yet in 2020 he slashed the budget 40 percent, down to $203 million. This caused Cal Fire’s fuel reduction output to drop by 50 percent that year, which is likely one of the main reasons behind record level fires in 2020.
This year is not looking better than 2020 either for wildfires. To date, 2021 has had more wildfires than the same time period in 2020.
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