Trump visits California to check on fires, Biden calls him climate arsonist
Former US Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee in the 2020 election Joe Biden (C) speaks at the 19th anniversary commemoration ceremony of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, USA, 11 September 2020. EFE/EPA/PETER FOLEY
President Donald J. Trump speaks to the media after arriving on Air Force One at Sacramento McClellan Airport in McClelland Park, California, USA, 14 September 2020. EFE/EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO
San Francisco, Sep 14 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Monday landed in California, where he met with emergency teams to learn the latest about the multiple wildfires that are devastating the state, and he called on local authorities to improve forest management.
Meanwhile, Trump's Democratic rival for the presidency in the November election, former Vice President Joe Biden, called Trump a "climate arsonist" for his environmental policies amid the fires burning in drought-stricken California, but also in Washington and Oregon.
Air Force One had no sooner landed at the McClellan Park air base near California's capital of Sacramento than Trump said that the state needs better and stronger forest management, something he said that he'd been calling for over the past three years.
When asked by reporters there about whether he believed that climate change has been a factor in the rapid spread of the devastating fires, Trump responded that many things are possible.
"We have to do a lot about forest management," Trump said. "Obviously forest management in California is very important and now it extends to Washington and extends also to Oregon. There has to be good, strong forest management, which I've been talking about for three years with this state, so hopefully they'll start doing that."
"It'll start getting cooler," Trump added. "You just watch."
The fires are the key feature in the current US political battle, where Republicans generally blame them on inadequate forest management which, they say, has allowed dead wood and other flammable materials to accumulate on forest floors for months and now is burning uncontrollably after lightning strikes in many areas.
Democrats, meanwhile, are focusing almost exclusively on climate change and its consequences for the Western US - including less rainfall, more drought and very high temperatures - as the reasons behind the fires.
In California, Trump also met with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, although they were not expected to make a joint public appearance.
Biden, meanwhile, also referred on Monday to the fires, while California Sen. Kamala Harris, the former VP's running mate for the 2020 vote, on Tuesday will travel to Fresno to learn firsthand what firefighting teams are facing.
Biden asked rhetorically how many suburbs have to burn or disappear in big storms so that a "climate arsonist" can get four more years in the White House, adding why should it surprise people if the US burns even more?
In a speech from Wilmington, Delaware, where he lives, Biden lambasted Trump for a lack of "leadership" in fighting climate change and promising that, if elected, a Biden administration would take action to alleviate it.
He said that Trump had repeatedly denied that climate change was going on, saying: "It requires action, not denial. It requires leadership, not scapegoating. ... It requires a president to meet the threshold duty of the office - to care for everyone. To defend us from every attack - seen and unseen."
"Donald Trump's climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes, but if he gets a second term these hellish events will become more common, more devastating and more deadly," asserted Biden, who served from 2009-2017 as former President Barack Obama's vice president.
He also said that Trump has said he thinks climate change is a "hoax."
The former VP said, among other things, that if he's elected he wants to see the US become the first country in the world to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions and, in the process, to generate new income sources.
Biden joked that when Trump talks about LED lightbulbs, he says he doesn't like them because the light they emit is not good, but it's really because they make his skin look too orange.
But, concretely, he said that if elected he will return the US to the Paris Climate Agreement - from which Trump withdrew the country - adding that he will ensure that the US once again will lead the world in tackling climate change.
Since he took office in 2017, Trump has rolled back numerous measures that had been put in place to confront climate change. He has also deregulated emissions from coal-powered plants and relaxed vehicle energy efficiency standards.
Firefighters are working to try and control multiple fires across all three West Coast states, but their job is being made difficult by strong winds that in the coming hours could further aggravate and spread the flames.
Since mid-August, when the fire erupted, the blazes have killed more than 30 people and caused tens of thousands to have to evacuate their homes. In addition, a number of people have gone missing in the shifting and complicated environment in the fire-ravaged areas.