The trip is aimed at highlighting his push to combat global warming and strengthen infrastructure, while helping fellow Democrat Gavin Newsom try to hold on to California’s governorship.
Biden visited the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, a hub designed to coordinate resources on wildfires – and held a briefing with state and local officials before flying to Sacramento, California, to see wildfire damage in the area.
The president said fire season in the United States is starting earlier each year and that this year alone, 44,000 wildfires in the country had consumed 5.4 million acres (2.2 million hectares) – an area roughly the size of New Jersey.
“Thank God, thank God we have you,” Biden told firefighters in the room.” He pledged to help federal firefighters make at least $15 an hour and said he is committed to raising the pay gap for firefighters who protect federal wildlands.
“The reality is we have a global warming problem, a serious global warming problem,” Biden said, pegging the economic damage from extreme weather events last year at $99 billion.
Last week, he called climate change an existential threat during a trip to New Jersey and New York.
White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday that one in three Americans is affected by the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and that Biden’s message on his first trip to the U.S. West Coast as president would be that the “climate crisis is in code red.”