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Oregon senator says Trump's blame on 'forest management' for wildfires is 'just a big and devastating lie'

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyEx-Capitol Police chief did not get FBI report warning of violence on Jan. 6 Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line Democrats revive debate over calling impeachment witnesses MORE (D-Ore.) said Sunday that President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE blaming “forest management” for wildfires is “just a big and devastating lie.”

Merkley told ABC’s “This Week” that he disagreed with the president’s comments Saturday night attributing the fires to being primarily “about forest management.”

“The president has said it's all about raking the forest,” the senator said. “It's just a -- a big and devastating lie.” 

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“The Cascade snowpacks have gotten smaller,” he added. “Our forests have gotten drier. Our ocean has gotten warmer and more acidic. And this has been happening steadily over the last several decades.”

The Oregon Democrat called for a president who would “follow the science on global warming.”

“America not only has to get its own act in order,” he said. “It has to help lead the world to take this on. This is a planetary-scale tragedy of the commons that we need leadership to end.”

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Merkley said the wildfires in his state are “apocalyptic,” adding he couldn’t escape the smoke when driving “600 miles up and down the state.” Thousands of people have lost their homes, and small towns have been “incinerated,” he said. 

The western coast states of California, Oregon and Washington are dealing with spreading wildfires that are sparking quick evacuations. 

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington state officials warn providers offering VIP vaccine access Legislators go after governors to rein in COVID-19 powers Inslee rebukes hospital over vaccine appointments for donors MORE (D) told ABC’s “This Week” that the states in the West “have a blowtorch” over them “which is climate change.” He called it “maddening” that Trump denies climate change contributed to the fires.  

“We know that climate change is making fires start easier, spread faster and intensify,” the governor said. “And it is maddening right now that, when we have this cosmic challenge to our communities, with the entire West Coast of the United States on fire, to have a president to deny that these are not just wildfires, these are climate fires.”

Inslee called viewers to “vote on climate,” saying “if this is not a signal to the United States, I don't know what it will take.”