Republican Rep. Tom McClintock took questions, lambasted environmental policies as a cause of wildfires, and reiterated his support for presidential candidate Donald Trump during an Aug. 18 town hall meeting at the North Fork Rancheria Community Center.
About 25 people took the opportunity to ask questions of the conservative Congressman from Elk Grove, with most centered on how private property owners can obtain assistance in combating dead trees on their land.
McClintock said unfortunately, not much help is available for private landowners.
“It’s an enormous frustration to me because I get asked that a lot,” McClintock said. “But there just aren’t a lot of funds available to assist homeowners managing private lands.”
When asked about cutting down dead trees, McClintock said there are federal programs to provide assistance at the county level, but grant funds have to be administered by the county.
“That’s all we’ve been able to find so far,” McClintock said.
While mentioning his efforts to find dollars for private landowners, McClintock decried both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970 and Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973, calling them some of the main reasons behind the dangerous state of California’s forests.
“I think after 45 years of experience with these laws, we are entitled to ask, since the promise was to improve forest ecology, how is the forest doing,” McClintock said. “And the answer is right before us.”
NEPA requires environmental assessments and impact statements behind any project involving federal funding or permits, including at the state or local levels, while the ESA provides strong protections for imperiled species as well as their surrounding environment.
McClintock said the House has responded with a number of bills, such as the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, intended to expedite the management of forests.
That bill, currently under review in the Senate, would circumvent many regulations in federal law, and create new categorical exclusions from many environmental policy standards to streamline the process on timber clearing projects or commercial logging.
Outside of environmental questions, McClintock answered a variety of political questions at the public meeting.
“There’s some people who think the economy is doing fine, the policies are working, and the world is a safer place today than it was eight years ago,” McClintock responded. “Those who believe that should vote for Hillary Clinton. But those who believe the country is on the wrong track, that the economy is stagnating, that those policies aren’t working, and that the world isn’t a safer place now as a result should vote for Donald Trump.”