Gov. Otter Takes On Obama Over CO2 Rules, Wildfires

Jul 2, 2013

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter attended the Western Governor's meeting in Utah last weekend.
Credit Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

At a Utah meeting this week, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter blasted President Barack Obama for seeking to limit coal-fired power plant emissions while not allowing sufficient timber cutting to tame big Western wildfires, another greenhouse gas source.

Otter told reporters Idaho wildfires send more carbon dioxide skyward than is released to produce coal-generated electricity used by the state's 1.5 million residents.

The governor's numbers may be technically correct.

But according to authors of a 2007 study of U.S. wildfire emissions, Otter's link between forest blazes and coal is misleading.

That's because it focuses on a sparsely populated state with vast range- and timberland that burns annually and it equates carbon captured in trees with carbon locked underground since dinosaur days.

Now burned for energy, that's what's boosting atmospheric concentrations.