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Analysis: Trump reignites climate debate in visit to fire-ravaged West Coast

September 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A burned residence smolders during the Bear fire, part of the North Lightning Complex fires, in unincorporated Butte County, California on September 09, 2020. - Dangerous dry winds whipped up California's record-breaking wildfires and ignited new blazes Tuesday, as hundreds were evacuated by helicopter and tens of thousands were plunged into darkness by power outages across the western United States. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

As Trump visits California Monday for a briefing on the forest fires that have charred millions of acres in that state along with Oregon and Washington, he is reigniting debate over the climate crisis as he insists a lack of forest management is to blame.

But on Monday, Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will both address the fires, from opposite coasts, and in so doing, highlight a climate change debate that is likely to play out throughout the campaign.

While Trump will likely continue talking about the need for forest management on his visit to California, Biden will be in Delaware, where his campaign said he will speak about the threats that "extreme weather events pose to Americans everywhere" and "underscore the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis," as well as the need to "create good-paying, union jobs to build more resilient infrastructure. "

During an emergency operations briefing in Lake Charles, Louisiana, late last month, Trump shrugged off a question about whether storms like Hurricane Laura were becoming more frequent because of climate change: "Who knows," he said, adding that he'd been told the area's biggest storm was in the 1800s.

At his rally in Minden, Nevada, Saturday night, Trump said Americans' "hearts are with all of the communities in the West battling devastating wildfires," but signaled that he will continue to blame "forest management" for the fires.

The White House has defended the President's response to the Western wildfires, noting that last month Trump approved an emergency declaration for California and has approved some three dozen fire management grants for other western states, which the White House said provide a 75% federal cost share for the mitigation, management and control of fires.

A White House spokesman said Trump supports a "locally-executed, state-managed, and federally supported emergency response. "

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