WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump's denial of the role of climate change in the wildfires out West poses a political challenge for Republicans.
They say they don't doubt the science but resist the policies proposed by Democrats to address the environmental crisis.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government should act more aggressively to combat climate change.
"It'll start getting cooler. You just — you just watch," said Trump during a briefing with California officials Monday.
"I wish science agreed with you," said Wade Crowfoot, California's secretary for natural resources.
"Well, I don't think science knows, actually," Trump said.
In contrast with Trump, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell's understanding of climate change has evolved but McConnell still rejects the progressive policies Democrats believe are the solution.
NEWS: @senatemajldr says he believes in human-caused #climatechange ahead of vote on #GreenNewDeal. "The way to do this consistent with American values and American capitalism is through technology and innovation, not to shut down your economy." @SpectrumNewsDC pic.twitter.com/JyBKYccZ8Z— Eva McKend (@evamckend) March 26, 2019
"I don't think there's any question the climate is changing. I don't think there is any question about that," McConnell (R-KY) said.
"I think most Republicans have a lot more confidence in technology to address the problem of climate change than clamping down on the economy with something like the Green New Deal that drives utility rates up and eliminates jobs," McConnell added Tuesday.
"Not preparing for climate is going to be much, much worse even than not preparing for the evil COVID virus. The damage that climate will do to our planet, as bad as COVID is, is going to be multiple times worse," said Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, (D-NY).
As the wildfires continue to cripple parts of the West, like President Trump, Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer suggests forest management is the central reason for the devastation. Scientists say both forest management and climate change are to blame.
"It’s a priority for Republicans. We care about the environment. We acknowledge that the climate has always changed. There are no doubters. I am not a climate change denier but I do believe that it’s a fact that these wildfires are the result of a lack of a forest management plan. The Democrats are beholden to these crazy environmentalists that went to schools in the Ivy League and the elite parts of the West and they don’t have any knowledge of the forest," said Comer.
When asked if he was minimizing the role of climate change, Comer said, "We’ve seen businesses step up. We’ve learned a lot about the climate and how we can preserve and protect the climate for the next generation and I think that we are doing our part. I think businesses and industries have stepped up."
Many Democrats support policies like a net-zero carbon goal by 2050 as outlined in the Green New Deal. Other than Trump, some Republicans acknowledge climate change is a threat too. They've offered legislation like a carbon capture bill and a geothermal energy bill, but those efforts, like the Green New Deal, have failed to advance.
"I’m a farmer. It’s in my best interest that we have productive soils, we have clean water, we have abundant water, that the trees that I manage on my farm grow and they don’t burn up and I believe there is a difference in understanding the climate and how to best preserve and protect the climate while at the same time not holding back the private sector because we have to have a strong economy," said Comer.