Newsom, who spoke from a prerecorded message taken on a cellphone as his state battles more than 370 wildfires amid a crippling heatwave and a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic, used his two minutes to argue that action must taken to slow the speed of global climate change.
“The hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier,” Newsom said while standing among a grove of trees. “If you are in denial about climate change, come to California.”
Newsom continued: “This is an extraordinary moment in our history. Mother nature has now joined this conversation around climate change.”
An incredulous Newsom slammed President Trump for threatening to defund wildfire suppression efforts because “we haven’t raked enough leaves.”
“You can’t make that up,” Newsom said. “Nor can you make up the fact that we’re involved in over 90 lawsuits with the Trump administration on clean air, on clean water, on endangered species, on pesticides.”
Newsom and Trump have had a testy relationship ever since the Democratic governor took office in 2019 – with the state acting as a foil to many of the Trump administration deregulation efforts.
While the tensions between the two began to thaw during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, both Trump and Newsom have recently renewed their attacks on each other as the outbreak of the deadly virus looks far from being contained.
“I see again, the forest fires are starting. They’re starting again in California,” Trump said Thursday at a campaign event in Old Forge, Pa. “And I said, you’ve got to clean your floors. You’ve got to clean your forests.
“They have massive fires again in California,” he added. “Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it, because they don’t listen to us. We say you got to get rid of the leaves, you got to get rid of the debris, you got to get rid of the fallen trees.”
Trump’s comments echoed those he made after the Camp Fire in November 2018 that destroyed much of the rural Butte County town of Paradise and killed 84 people. Despite Trump’s blame on California, the federal government oversees more than half the forestland in California, while state and local agencies control just around three percent.
In his brief address, Newsom added: “There is so much at stake in this election, none more important than the work Joe Biden did with Barack Obama on the vehicle emissions standards.”
Newsom said he had to quickly jump out of the car on the way to a fire relief center to “express my deep reverence, my admiration to Joe Biden, to Kamala Harris…to their commitment, not just to the environment, but to the commonwealth, to our kids, our kid’s kids, to our grandkids, to our legacy.”