MATHER, Calif. — President Joe Biden on Monday said Western wildfires are “blinking code red for our nation” during a visit to California, lamenting the role of climate change in exacerbating the disasters.
Biden’s remarks contrasted with those of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who visited the Sacramento area a year earlier and denied the scientific consensus about humans’ role in global warming. “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump told officials. “I don’t think science knows, actually.”
Biden, on the other hand, mourned how “Everyone in Northern California knows the time of the year when you can’t go outside, when the air will be filled with smoke, and the sky will turn [an] apocalyptic shade of orange.” He cited his decisions to raise federal firefighters’ minimum wage and deploy resources to fight catastrophic blazes while plugging his $3.5 trillion infrastructure package that would fund climate resiliency and clean energy.
“We can’t ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change,” Biden said at Mather Airport near Sacramento just after taking an aerial tour of fire damage in the Lake Tahoe region. “It isn’t about red or blue states. It’s about fire — just fire.”
Biden, who also visited the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, on Monday, was also asked about a recent media report that California Gov. Gavin Newsom misled the public about his administration’s wildfire prevention efforts. The president is rallying on behalf of the governor in Long Beach on Monday night on the eve of Newsom’s recall election.
“He didn’t,” Biden turned around to say just out of earshot when walking out of a hanger with the governor.
Newsom introduced the president, and leaders of state and federal agencies were in attendance. “California’s leadership has been challenged in the last four years,” the governor said. “But those headwinds now are tailwinds with the Biden administration. We’re not sparring partners, we’re working partners as it relates to issues of climate change and dealing with the challenges of wildfires.”