SANTA FE, N.M. — Political clashes about the role of climate change in catastrophic West Coast infernos are spilling into a U.S. Senate race in New Mexico, where a Republican meteorologist is campaigning for an open seat.
U.S. Rep. and Democratic Senate nominee Ben Ray Luján accused rival Mark Ronchetti on Monday of engaging in “irresponsible and dangerous climate denialism.”
Luján highlighted a video clip from a Republican online forum in March in which Ronchetti says that “fires aren’t caused by anything other than a spark or a lightning strike. … Climate change doesn’t cause fires, come on.”
Ronchetti responded Monday with an acknowledgement that climate change needs to be addressed and that both “human activity” and drought are responsible for the vicious wildfires.
Ronchetti also partially endorsed the view that poor forest management is to blame.
“I’ve been studying weather my entire professional life and so let me be perfectly clear – climate change is a real phenomenon