Trump Dismisses Climate Change as Wildfires Blaze Along West Coast

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US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing on wildfires with local and federal fire and emergency officials at Sacramento McClellan Airport in McClellan Park, California on September 14, 2020. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty

President Donald Trump continued to deny the impact of climate change as he traveled to California on Monday for an update on devastating wildfires that have spread along the West Coast.

"It will start getting cooler," Trump told California officials, including Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, during a briefing in Sacramento. "Just watch."

As California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot pointed out that science supports the thinking that climate change has contributed to the record-setting wild fires, Trump shot back: "I don't think science knows, actually."

At least seven people have been killed in wildfires now raging in California, Oregon and Washington.

Trump has long denied that climate change is manmade and dismissed concerns about global warming.

Newsom told the president he disagrees.

"Something has happened to the plumbing of the world," Newsom said, "and we come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science that climate change is real."

The debate over climate change is another key difference between Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden in their battle for the White House.

As Trump headed to California, Biden gave a speech from Delaware, excoriating Trump's record on the issue.

"If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is ablaze?" Biden said. "If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?"

Trump has responded to the wildfires by blaming poor forest management that leaves behind leaves and downed trees.

"It's fuel for a fire," he told reporters Monday.

Wildfires have burned more than 2.5 million acres of California land this year, with more than a month left in the typical wildfire season, racking up more than $50 billion in damage.

"We have to act as a nation," Biden said. "It shouldn't be so bad that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking if doomsday is here."

Biden also pointed to other natural disasters that scientists have attributed to climate change, including forceful hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and widespread flooding across the Midwest.

Hurricane Sally, which is currently a Category One storm but continues to gain strength, is expected to make landfall along the Gulf Coast Tuesday.

"It's a troubling marker not just for an increased frequency of hurricanes, but more powerful and destructive storms," Biden said. "They're causing record damage after record damage to people's homes and livelihoods."

Biden has called for building more resilient infrastructure, plugging abandoned oil and gas wells and getting the country to net-zero emissions by 2050 as part of his energy agenda. He's also said he would put a moratorium on new fracking permits and cut subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

Trump last week extended a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling along the coasts of Florida, Georgia and North Carolina—an unexpected turn from his normally close relationship with the oil and gas industry.

During a signing ceremony in Florida, Trump dubbed himself a "great environmentalist."

"The left's agenda isn't about protecting the environment," he said. "It is about punishing America."