19:01 GMT +320 January 2020
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    California, a Democratic stronghold that is home to eight of the 25 richest cities in the US, has found itself in Donald Trump's cross hairs. Richie Greenberg, a former candidate for Mayor of San Francisco, has explained what's behind the president's criticism and decision to axe the state's right to set its own auto emissions standards.

    On Wednesday, Donald Trump lashed out at California, giving a triple punch to the state and municipal leadership: first, the president announced that he would revoke the state's federal waiver allowing it to set its own vehicle emission standards.

    Second, Trump turned the spotlight on California's homelessness crisis, and, third, lambasted Los Angeles and San Francisco for environmental violations, saying that human waste is running off the streets and into the surrounding ocean.

    "There’s tremendous pollution being put into the ocean because they’re going through what’s called the storm sewer that’s for rainwater”, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.

    While US mainstream media is claiming that Donald Trump is taking his sweet revenge on the Democratic stronghold that challenged his immigration, healthcare and environmental initiatives, the reason is more prosaic: the federal government is seeking to set common national standards for fuel economy and gas emissions. The Trump administration envisions that "national standards" will provide Americans with access to less expensive, cleaner and safer cars thus giving a boost to the country's automobile industry.

    Meanwhile, the California homelessness crisis is no secret. According to the latest report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, "almost half (47 percent) of all unsheltered homeless people are found in the State of California, about four times as high as California’s share of the overall US population". And the number of those living on the streets of the state's big cities continues to rise.

    As for the environmental issue, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about to send to San Francisco a notice related to pollution associated with the homelessness crisis, according to Trump.

    Why Trump is Paying So Much Attention to California

    Richie Greenberg, delegate on the San Francisco GOP Central Committee and the California GOP, outlines two major reasons why Donald Trump is paying so much attention to the state, which have nothing to do with any sort of a political vendetta.

    "First, the years and years of failure to govern California by the Democrats, decades of improper governance, poor education, policing, immigration violations and more", Greenberg says. "Secondly, and we saw this in the past few days, California does actually have the most number of registered Republicans of all US states. And the most political donations for the Republican Party (RNC) come from California. Trump visited here to give back to the Republicans, the donors, to do it for them, to say thank you".

    He explains that Trump revoked the waiver because California "acts as its own country" with its own emission standards which places car manufacturers "in a difficult position with developing and producing different vehicles for different US markets".

    On the other hand, the president's concerns about the state's housing problem are quite reasonable as "the homelessness crisis has been growing every year", Greenberg points out.

    "The city government is unable to provide the services directly to administer the programmes, so it contracts out the services to nonprofit outreach organisations which combined receive hundreds of millions of dollars", he elaborates. "The problem is, these organisations have no accountability for their own actions and performance".

    The politician notes that although San Francisco continues "to add more money to the available programmes to administer the homelessness outreach", the problem is that "even with more money, the programmes are basically a failure".

    "It appears the organisations receive the money but are ineffective", Greenberg remarks.

    Likewise, San Francisco’s authorities remain silent about pollution, claiming that there are filters within the drains which prevent hazardous waste from reaching the water, according to the politician.

    "This is only a half-truth", he says. "City Hall government always seeks to attempt to address our problems ourselves even if it is a failure".

    California Fights Back

    Responding to Trump's criticism, London Nicole Breed, mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, denounced the US president's accusations and fought back.

    "If the President wants to talk about homelessness, we are committed to working on actual solutions, like adding 1,000 new shelter beds by next year and working to pass a $600 million affordable housing bond to create more badly needed housing", she tweeted.

    According to London it was actually President Trump who was "cutting clean air and clean water standards, restricting [California's] ability to regulate car emissions".

    ​On 20 September, California sued the Trump administration over the auto emissions waiver along with a group of other 23 states, arguing that the White House's decision is unlawful. Citing legal experts CNBC suggested Friday that the "fight" is unlikely to be over before the 2020 presidential run and will certainly affect the election race.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    pollution, greenhouse emissions, environment, homelessness, Los Angeles, San Francisco, California, United States
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