- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 13, 2020

President Trump issued a major disaster declaration last month for the California wildfires, but Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday said that if he really wanted to help, he would acknowledge climate change and embrace the Paris climate accord.

Mr. Garcetti blamed climate change for the wildfires that have burned nearly 3 million acres this year in California, dismissing concerns about the state’s overgrown forests and poor management raised by Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans.

“It’s been very clear that years of drought, as we’re seeing, whether it’s too much water and too much rain in parts of our country right now, or too little, this is climate change,” said Mr. Garcetti on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And this is an administration that’s put its head in the sand while we have Democratic and Republican mayors across the country stepping up to do their part.”

Mr. Trump has scheduled a trip Monday to McClellan Park in Sacramento County on the wildfire damage along the West Coast, resulting in an estimated 33 deaths, amid criticism by California Democrats that he has ignored the state for partisan reasons.

“It’s taken three weeks,” said Mr. Garcetti. “I’m glad he’s coming, but we need much more help when we have firefighters dying on the line, and Washington refuses to help states, and refuses to help local governments that are the first responders to emergencies like this, it’s unconscionable.”

Mr. Garcetti also acknowledged that he had received “great cooperation with our federal agencies.”

In addition to approving the disaster declaration effective Aug. 14, Mr. Trump has spoken with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and “the White House and FEMA have remained in constant contact with State and local officials throughout the response to these natural disasters,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

Mr. Garcetti also blasted Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The administration gave its one-year notice of withdrawal on Nov. 4, 2019, which means the official exit may take place Nov. 4, the day after the election.

“This is an administration and a president who wants to withdraw from the Paris climate accord later this year, the only country in the world to do so,” said Mr. Garcetti. “Talk to a firefighter if you think climate change isn’t real. It seems like this administration is the last vestiges of flat earth society of this generation.”

Mr. Trump has called for more aggressive forest management, including more “raking” to clear debris from the forest floors that fuel the wildfires, but Mr. Garcetti said that “we need real action” to reduce carbon emissions.

“We need to actually reduce the carbon emissions that we have,” Mr. Garcetti said. “We need to make sure we can manage that water. This is not just about just forest management or raking, anybody who lives here in California is insulted by that quite frankly, and he keeps perpetuating this lie.”

The Creek fire is being fueled by nearly 150 million dead beetle-kill trees in the Sierra National Forest, with the Forest Service estimating that the dead stands contain nearly 2,000 tons of dead fuel per acre, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Since 2010, an estimated 129 million trees have died in California’s national forests due to conditions caused by climate change, unprecedented drought, bark beetle infestation and high tree densities,” said the Forest Service on its website.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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