As firefighters head home from Southern Nevada, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid on Wednesday blamed “climate change” for the intense blaze that consumed nearly 28,000 acres and drove hundreds of residents from their homes around Mount Charleston this month.
Reid said the government should be spending “a lot more” on fire prevention, echoing elected officials who say the Forest Service should move more aggressively to remove brush and undergrowth that turn small fires into huge ones.
“The West is burning,” the Nevada Democrat told reporters in a meeting. “I could be wrong, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a fire in the Spring Mountains, Charleston range like we just had.
“Why are we having them? Because we have climate change. Things are different. The forests are drier, the winters are shorter, and we have these terrible fires all over the West.”
“This is terribly concerning,” Reid said. Dealing with fire “is something we can’t do on the cheap.”
“We have climate change. It’s here. You can’t deny it,” Reid went on. “Why do you think we are having all these fires?”
Capitol Hill will see three hearings on climate policy and science today, focusing on small businesses, the imminence of the problem, and the social cost of carbon. [The Hill]
We are burning more coal than expected: the stockpiles of coal that power plants keep in store dropped below the monthly five-year average in April, which is the first time it’s happened since December 2011. [Today In Energy]
ExxonMobil has asked the Air Force to take another look at a proposal to lease land on Vandenberg Air Force Base to “slant drill” for offshore oil just off the base’s California coastline. [LA Times]
Senator John Barasso made clear that if Senators Shaheen and Portman bring their bipartisan energy efficiency bill to the Senate floor, he will try to attach amendments about the Keystone pipeline and other regulations (read: carbon regulations) to the bill. [The Hill]
Some California officials are considering treating recipes for fracking liquids as trade secrets, hiding them from the public’s knowledge. [LA Times]
At a House hearing yesterday, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell defended the prospect of nationwide rules on fracking contamination on federal lands managed by the Interior Department, while Republicans said that the states were doing a fine job of it right now. [Fuel Fix]
She also talked about how severe drought in the Western U.S. could lead to a record season for wildfires. [Bloomberg]
Keystone XL shouldn’t be the only worry of tar sands opponents — Enbridge is hoping to start construction in the coming weeks on a 600-mile-long pipeline that would carry tar sands from Illinois to Oklahoma. [Washington Post]
About 6,000 people had to evacuate their homes yesterday as massive wildfires burned near Palm Springs, California. [LA Times]
A major ongoing heatwave in the U.K. this week has been responsible for as many as 760 deaths. [The Independent]
Outdoor air pollution in India claims the lives of about 109,000 adults and 7,500 children per year, according to the World Bank. [Times of India]
A new study has found that more than 80 percent of Malaysian Borneo’s forests have been heavily impacted by logging, illustrating the “crisis in tropical forest ecosystems worldwide.” [ScienceDaily]
The CIA is funding a $630,000 study that will examine how big of a player geoengineering could be in the fight against climate change. [Mother Jones]
As the EPA building was named after him, former President Bill Clinton said addressing climate change was the “only way to have a sustainable economy” in the 21st century. [The Hill]
When conservatives fight to repeal clean energy standards in red states, they discover it’s not just liberal environmentalists that support renewable energy — it’s often conservatives. [Wall Street Journal]
The White House is taking steps to double energy productivity (getting twice the energy per amount of fuel) by 2030 through energy efficiency promotion in home mortgages and tools for businesses. [The Hill]
A look at the most efficient solar panels on the market. [Solar Love]