The Slatest

Interior Secretary Zinke Says Climate Change Isn’t to Blame for Raging Forest Fires, but Environmentalists Are

 Smoke from the Holy Fire burning in Cleveland National Forest is blurred in a long exposure above an industrial storage facility on August 10, 2018 in Corona, California.
Smoke from the Holy Fire burning in Cleveland National Forest is blurred in a long exposure above an industrial storage facility on August 10, 2018 in Corona, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a card-carrying member of climate change skeptic Trump administration, told a local TV station Sunday that climate change has nothing to do with the dozens of wildfires currently ravaging the west, and particularly the state of California, where blazes have churned through 1,000 square miles so far in what has already been the most destructive fire season on record. Instead, Zinke placed blame on “extreme environmentalists” for the conditions that led to the state’s historic fires this year. “America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change,” Zinke said in an interview with KCRA. “This has nothing to do with climate change. This has to do with active forest management.”

Zinke’s latest statements were a continuation of his criticism of environmental groups efforts for limiting logging in a recent op-ed in USA Today. “Every year we watch our forests burn, and every year there is a call for action,” Zinke wrote. “Yet, when action comes, and we try to thin forests of dead and dying timber, or we try to sustainably harvest timber from dense and fire-prone areas, we are attacked with frivolous litigation from radical environmentalists who would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods.”

“Researchers do attribute the recent fires in part to forest management strategies, and moves to inhibit naturally occurring wildfires that previously helped maintain an ecological balance in forests,” the Guardian reports. “Fire suppression has left forests dense, dry and primed to burn [but] [s]uch policies [-] were put in place to protect the timber industry.”