Forest Chief Testifies to What Disease Chief Could Not
WASHINGTON (November 1, 2007) — Today the Chief of the Forest Service, Gail Kimbell, took the position that global warming was having a noticeable effect on the size of the area burned and the intensity and the frequency of wildfires in the United States. This testimony essentially contradicts White House handlers who just two weeks ago muzzled the Director of the Center for Disease Control Julie Gerberding from testifying to virtually the same facts before Congress.
Before testifying before the Senate, the White House deleted the following sentence from Gerberding’s testimony on climate change vulnerability: “The west coast of the United States is expected to experience significant strains on water supplies as regional precipitation declines and mountain snow packs are depleted. Forest fires are expected to increase in frequency, severity, distribution, and duration.”
But today, testifying before the House Select Committee on the links of global warming to wildfires, here is the exchange between Forest Chief Gail Kimbell and Chairman Edward J. Markey:
Question from Chairman Markey:
“Recently, Centers for Disease Control Director Julie Gerberding testified before the Senate on the impacts of climate change on public health.
“In her draft testimony she stated that because of climate change, quote ‘forest fires are expected to increase in frequency, severity, distribution and duration.’ The Bush administration removed that statement from her final testimony. Do you agree with that statement?”
Response from Chief Kimbell:
“I think we can demonstrate higher severity, larger fires and certainly over the last seven-eight years more frequent fires and a longer fire season.”
In her prepared testimony Chief Kimbell also said: “We can expect these temperature and precipitation patterns to lead to longer and more severe fire seasons in many areas of the United States and Canada.”
“It seems that the Administration is having a hard time suppressing wildfires of scientific accuracy from flaring up among its appointees,” said Chairman Markey. “I appreciate Chief Kimbell’s forthrightness, which I contrast with operatives in the White House who continue to try to use politics to trump science, particularly when it comes to the explaining what we face from a warming climate and what must be done about it.”