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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Updated 25 mins ago - World

At least 100 killed, much of Beirut destroyed in massive explosion

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion Beirut, Lebanon has killed at least 100 people and injured over 4,000, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

Driving the news: Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for over six years.

Biden confidants see VP choices narrowing to Harris and Rice

Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

Confidants of Joe Biden believe his choices for vice president have narrowed to Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice — and would be surprised if he picks anyone else.

The state of play: This is a snapshot of the nearly unanimous read that we get from more than a dozen people close to him.

An election like no other

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus will make the 2020 presidential election different from any in modern history: Voting that begins earlier, results that take longer, mail carriers as virtual poll workers and October Surprises that pop in September.

The big picture: Perhaps 80 million Americans will vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, tells Axios. That's going to set up more of an Election Season than an Election Day — and increase the odds of national turmoil over the vote count.