Saturday, November 01, 2003

White House Burned Down California

Guess who's behind the recent incineration of California? Yes, arsonists have some blame, but it turns out that more blame can be dumped on the doorstep of President Stupid and his minions. Get this:

The Bush administration took six months to evaluate Gov. Gray Davis' emergency request last spring for $430 million to clear dead trees from fire-prone areas of Southern California.

The request was finally denied Oct. 24, only hours before wildfires roared out of control in what has become the largest fire disaster in California history.

Rep. Mary Bono (R-Palm Springs), a leader in the effort to get federal assistance for fire prevention, questioned Thursday why the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not rule sooner.

"FEMA's decision was wrong," Bono said. "The timing couldn't have been worse.... We knew this disaster was going to happen with certainty. It was only a matter of when, and we were trying to beat the clock with removing the dead trees."

FEMA, of course, claimed that the state was already getting money (about 10% of the amount requested) from the departments of Agriculture and the Interior that could have been used to clear four or five dead trees. Some believe that the request was rejected because FEMA reacts to disasters rather than trying to prevent them:

Bono added: "Part of FEMA's charter is to mitigate for disaster and in this case they thought it wasn't the case, it wasn't part of their job — and look where we are because of that."

Indeed. And, as usual, it's going to cost a lot more to repair the damage than it would have cost to remove the tinder-dry dead trees.

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