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The West is burning, but Trump doesn’t care

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

The air outside my window is yellow today. It was orange yesterday. The air quality index is over 200. The Environmental Protection Agency defines this as a “health alert” in which “everyone may experience more serious health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours.” Unfortunately, the index has been over 200 for several days.

The West is burning. Wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington are incinerating homes, killing scores of people, sickening many others, causing hundreds of thousands to evacuate, burning entire towns to the ground, consuming millions of acres, and blanketing the western third of the United States with thick, acrid and dangerous smoke.

Yet the president has said and done almost nothing. A month ago, Donald Trump wanted to protect lives in Oregon and California from “rioters and looters.” He sent federal forces into the streets of Portland and threatened to send them to Oakland and Los Angeles.

Today, Portland is in danger of being burned and Oakland and Los Angeles are under health alerts. Trump has said little.

One reason: these states voted against him in 2016 and he still bears a grudge.

Trump came close to rejecting California’s request for emergency funding.

 

“He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him,” said former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor.

Another explanation for Trump’s silence is that the wildfires are tied to human-caused climate change, which Trump has done everything humanly possible to worsen.

Extreme weather disasters are rampaging across America. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just released its latest State of the Climate report, finding that in August alone, the U.S. was hit by four billion-dollar calamities. In addition to wildfires, there were two enormous hurricanes and an extraordinary Midwest derecho.

These are inconvenient facts for a president who has spent much of his presidency dismantling every major climate and environmental policy he can lay his hands on.

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