Over the weekend, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claimed that environmentalists and green regulations are making the recent California wildfires much worse. This claim isn’t supported by many studies, and Zinke hasn’t provided much information backing his claim.
Zinke traveled to California and visited neighborhoods destroyed by the wildfires. Throughout his trip, he claimed the wildfires had “nothing to do with climate change” and everything to do with environmentalists. According to Zinke, the “extreme” environmental groups, whom he referred to as “environmental terrorists,” are to blame for the recent wildfires.
In an interview with Brietbart radio Zinke said, “We have been held hostage by these environmental terrorist groups that have not allowed public access — that have refused to allow [the] harvest of timber.” Zinke’s proposed plan to stop the wildfires involves increasing the logging industry’s access to national forests. He went on to say, “But we have these radical environmentalists that close off roads, refuse to have firebreaks, refuse to have any timber harvested, no grazing, and the result is these catastrophic fires.”
In an interview with local TV news station KCRA Zinke said, “America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change. Extreme environmentalists have shut down public access. They talk about habitat, and yet they are willing to burn it up.”
Last week, Zinke wrote an op-ed article for USA Today pushing the same logging narrative. In the article he says, ”[W]e are attacked with frivolous litigation from radical environmentalists who would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods.”
All of Zinke’s recent comments mimic that of President Trump’s August 6 tweet:
The California wildfires have destroyed at least 1,000 homes and taken the lives of six firefighters. The fires are so large that the smoke has spread 3,000 miles to New York City.