Jan 16, 2019

Andrew Wheeler blames forest management as cause of wildfires

Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler told senators during his confirmation hearing Wednesday, "I think the biggest issue with wildfires is forest management ... not drought."

Why it matters: Studies show that climate change, which is leading to hotter, drier summers in California, is tied to the sharp increase in large wildfires in that state and other parts of the West, along with a lengthening fire season, Axios' Andrew Freedman notes. Forest management and population growth are also factors, but they don't explain the entire situation.

Other highlights from the hearing...

  • On carbon emissions: Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, said he expects carbon emissions from power plants will fall more than 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 under the Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE), a rule that pushes for greater coal plant efficiency.
    • Reality check: A new paper in Environmental Research Letters predicts carbon emissions will actually see increases as high as 9% in 18 states in 2030 as a result of ACE. The EPA itself has said any reduction in CO2 in coming years will almost entirely be market-driven and would only amount to about a 0.7–1.5% reduction.
  • On if climate change is a hoax: "I’ve not used the hoax word myself," Wheeler said in a response to a question from Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.).

Go deeper: Andrew Wheeler's confirmation hearing could be a 2020 practice round

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Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 46 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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