President Donald Trump on Wednesday escalated his political fight with California by threatening to have the Environmental Protection Agency pursue action against San Francisco for its homelessness problem.
“It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump said of homelessness to reporters aboard Air Force One, according to a pool report. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco — they’re in total violation — we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.”
“EPA is going to be putting out a notice,” he added. “They’re in serious violation.”
He said pollution was flowing into the ocean because of waste in storm sewers, specifically citing used needles, though he did not provide details or evidence, and it’s unclear on what grounds the city would be in violation of EPA regulations.
Asked about the threat Thursday morning, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at an event in Washington that he “can’t comment on potential enforcement actions.”
Trump’s remarks, made as he returned to Washington from a two-day fundraising swing through the Golden State, represent his latest effort to utilize the power of the federal bureaucracy in clashes with state and local governments led by Democrats. Earlier Wednesday, the President directed the EPA to revoke the state’s waiver with the agency, which allowed it to set more stringent vehicle emissions standards than those set at the federal level.
Responding to Trump’s threat, San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed on Thursday defended the city’s efforts to combat homelessness in a series of tweets.
“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,” tweeted Breed, a Democrat, who also called on the federal government to “offer support on solutions that help people exit homelessness.”