"We’ve seen this coming for a long time. We have half the people working in California today that used to work in the logging industry because environmentalists and their political enablers have shut down the timber industry in California and when you don’t log the timber, eventually, it’s gotta burn,” Chuck DeVore said on “Fox & Friends” after pointing out that Gov. Gavin Newsom has blamed "capitalism, global warming," and the Pacific Gas & Electric company.
DeVore's comments came after Newsom declared a statewide emergency Sunday after multiple wildfires prompted the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people from their homes. Mandatory evacuations were ordered Wednesday morning in Southern California as a rapidly moving wildfire ignited and burned in Simi Valley, near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
The Getty Fire in Los Angeles, which has destroyed a dozen homes and forced many people – including some celebrities – to escape the area, was sparked by a tree branch that fell on top of power lines and ignited nearby brush, officials said Tuesday.
The biggest evacuation was in Northern California's Sonoma County, where 180,000 people were told to pack up and leave. Meanwhile, PG&E shut off power to 2.3 million people across 36 counties starting Saturday evening.
DeVore, who is now vice president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, argued that politicians and regulators have chosen to focus on wind and solar power, rather than maintaining and improving the power lines.
“In the case of PG&E, five years ago, they asked for a little over $4.8 billion to upgrade their lines. It was denied. They made a little less than half of that," he noted.
DeVore dismissed the idea that the wildfires are fueled solely by the climate becoming hotter and drier.
"Thirteen years ago, the Western Governors Association predicted exactly what we're seeing now in their biomass report. … Because of the decline in the timber industry, we don't clean up the forests anymore. By the way, President Trump was right last year when he criticized California for not properly maintaining their forests," he said.
DeVore said even if climate change is the root issue, increased forest management could have helped the situation, lamenting that it is now "too little, too late."
“As a result, you’re going to see more wildfires in California for the next 10 years, along with blackouts.”