‘Serious global warming problem’: President Biden visits Boise as wildfires ravage West

Editor’s note: This post will be updated throughout the day with notes, photos and videos from President Joe Biden’s Idaho visit. The newest updates will be at the top.

Our stories on Biden’s visit are linked below:

‘Serious global warming problem’: President Biden visits Boise as wildfires ravage West

A cold welcome: Hundreds near Boise Airport curse at President Biden’s visit to Idaho

Looking for civility among the F-bombs at President Biden’s welcoming committee in Boise

High school students gets opportunities to see Biden’s visit up close — and even meet him

Mayor, students, advocate represent Boise at Biden visit

3:20 p.m.: Boise Mayor Lauren McLean was among the first people to greet President Joe Biden when he arrived in Boise.

“It was my incredible honor to greet President Joe Biden today and welcome him to Boise,” McLean said in a written statement. “I had the opportunity to speak with him and share the city’s collective values of problem solving and innovation, while highlighting our bold climate action efforts.

“We discussed Boise’s Climate Action Roadmap, outlining our goals of being a carbon-neutral organization by 2035 and a carbon-neutral community by 2050. The president commended us for our work and encouraged us to keep pushing forward. I hope you’ll join me for the live stream of my State of the City Address this Thursday, September 16, where I’ll share an exciting announcement on that front with our community.

“Meanwhile, the City of Boise, together with residents, is committed to preserving and promoting clean energy, clean air and water. I shared with the president our strong history of open space preservation, and in a nod to that legacy, I gifted him a painting of the Boise Foothills by local artist Rachel Teannalach entitled ‘Spring Walk in the Foothills.’ I’m proud our city is stepping up as a leader for the America the Beautiful Initiative, creating a set of unique goals to plant more trees, protect native habitat and build resilient ecosystems — environmental priorities we share with this administration.

“While talking about the legacy of conservation advocates in our community, President Biden asked if we could call Monica Church, the granddaughter of Senator Frank and Bethine Church and Gov. Cecil and Carol Andrus. When we met for the second time during today’s visit, I suggested we FaceTime instead of call. President Biden agreed and we spent a few minutes with both of us talking to Monica Church and then with her government class at Boise High School. Biden talked about the impact Frank and Bethine Church had on his life, and the personal connection he still feels to our state of Idaho. It’s a moment I will never forget.

I’m grateful President Biden made a stop in our city and our meeting reenergized me in our efforts to create a city for everyone. Four leaders in our community also joined me in meeting President Biden today.”

The people who joined McLean were:

Barbara English, who works for Boise Parks and Recreation at Whitney Community Center, located at Whitney Elementary School. “Meeting the president is a once-in-a-lifetime honor and I’m grateful President Biden visited Boise to learn more about our city and the incredible work we are doing for residents,” English said in a statement distributed by the mayor’s office. “It’s an honor to represent the City of Boise, our students and the families we serve.”

Two members of the City of Boise’s Youth Climate Action Council. Asha Muhingi and Myrie Murphy are high school students in the Boise School District.

“Being on the Youth Climate Action Council is an incredible opportunity to promote the work young Idahoans are doing to lead in the climate space,” Murphy said in a statement distributed by the mayor’s office. “I appreciate the president taking the time to listen to our city’s up-and-coming leaders who are working hard to preserve Boise’s land and water for the next generation.”

Added Muhingi, also in a statement provided by the mayor’s office: “Being a refugee, I’ve always strived to play an important role in building Boise, our state and our nation. Meeting the president was an exciting step in sharing my commitment to this city and honoring the work we’re doing to make Boise an even better place to live.”

Rialin Flores serves as the executive director of Conservation Voters for Idaho. “From wildfires to water shortages to extreme weather events, rural and urban communities are feeling the impacts of a changing climate,” Flores said in a statement distributed by the mayor’s office. “I’m thankful to have President Biden come to Boise to hear directly from Idahoans and see some of the ways in which local leaders are bringing together diverse stakeholders to find innovative solutions.”

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Boise Mayor’s Office

Little: President Biden can help protect against wildfire

3:14 p.m.: Idaho Gov. Brad Little released a written statement on his visit with President Joe Biden on Monday.

“Two-thirds of Idaho is public land managed by the federal government, and it is imperative we keep lines of communication open with our federal partners — right up to the President — on ways to build a more fire-resilient range and forest ecosystem.

“There is plenty I disagree with the president on right now, but today we came together to listen to one another and discuss solutions on wildfire. I spent my limited time with the president focusing on the incredible progress Idaho has made with collaborative initiatives, including the Good Neighbor Authority and Shared Stewardship. We have demonstrated that diverse interests can come together with the common goal of protecting lives and communities from wildfire, creating jobs and improving the landscape.

“I pointed out to the President the tremendous partnership that Idaho has forged with federal land and fire management agencies, but there is another federal agency that plays a role in our ability to successfully implement meaningful practices on the landscape — the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Just one month ago, an environmentalist group succeeded in holding up a 2,500-acre logging project in North Idaho that was part of our Good Neighbor Authority plan to make the landscape more fire resilient. We need the president’s help with minimizing unproductive lawsuits so we can get fully agreed upon plans implemented and reduce the fuel load, and so we are not unduly endangering firefighters and our communities. We must increase the pace and scale of forest health projects now if we’re going to make progress on our national forests.

“I thank the president for taking the time to visit NIFC. Western governors and I look forward to continuing to work with the president and his administration on land and fire management issues facing the West, and I deeply appreciate our firefighters for their hard work and bravery during a tough fire season.”

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch also put out a statement on the visit.

“On the heels of a wildfire season that has burned more than 5 million acres, I’m glad to see the president giving his attention to an issue that impacts Idahoans year after year,” Risch said in a written statement. “Those of us in Idaho know that the federal government has ignored active forest management for too long. I hope that speaking with fire experts and seeing the aftermath of 2021’s catastrophic wildfires will convince the president that we need to proactively and aggressively remove fuels from the landscape to protect our Western forests from going up in flames.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Russ Fulcher of Idaho called Biden’s visit “inconsequential.”

“President Biden and Democrats thus far have neglected the drought in the West, nominated radical and dangerous activists to his cabinet, and encouraged rabid environmental lawsuits to delay beneficial land management,” Fulcher said in a written statement. “President Biden’s PR stop is inconsequential to Idahoans who are recovering from yet another season of devastating fires.”

Idaho leaders get moment with Biden

2:07 p.m.: President Joe Biden participated in photos before leaving the NIFC. Participants were:

Lauren McLean, mayor of Boise; Ilana Rubel, state House minority leader; Janie Ward-Engelking, state senator; Ali Rabe, state senator; Brooke Green, state representative; Mufy Davis, state representative; Colin Nash, state representative; Sue Chew, state representative; John Gannon, state representative; John McCrostie, state representative; Lauren Necochea, state representative; Brian Thomas, chairman, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes; Devon Boyer, chairman, Fort Hall Business Council; Tom Lovell, president, IAFF Professional Firefighters of Idaho; Curtis Smith, secretary-treasurer, IAFF Professional Firefighters of Idaho; Joe Maloney, president, Idaho AFL-CIO; Jason Hudson, government affairs director, Idaho AFL-CIO.

All of the state legislators, like McLean, are Democrats.

Before boarding Air Force One, Biden visited with Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Donnellan, assistant adjutant general, Idaho Air National Guard; and MCol. Shannon D. Smith, Commander of the 124th Fighter Wing.

Biden departs for California

2 p.m.: President Joe Biden boarded Air Force One in Boise at 1:51 p.m. Monday. He’s headed to Sacramento, California, for more wildfire-related activities and then Long Beach, California, for a campaign event in support of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Biden waved to the people on the ground as he boarded.

Air Force One left the ground at 2 p.m.

Crapo: Get local input in wildfire issue

1:37 p.m.: Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo released a statement on President Joe Biden’s visit to Idaho:

“President Biden’s visit to Idaho today emphasizes the need for state and local input into federal forest management and firefighting decisions. The Biden Administration should work with Congress, governors and others with on-the-ground expertise to develop comprehensive solutions for appropriate forest management.”

Little asks Biden for help on wildfires

1:10 p.m.: Idaho Gov. Brad Little asked President Joe Biden for the Department of Justice’s help in moving past legal issues that involve wildfire mitigation efforts.

“Besides you directing the Forest Service and BLM, the Department of Justice has a role,” the governor said, according to a pool reporter. The “cases get hung up for many minor reasons,” Little said.

“All the Western governors stand ready to work with you and your administration on it,” Little said of the wildfires.

Biden then quoted a poem before commending firefighters. “God made man, then he made a few firefighters.” He said the only thing that keeps them safe is “one another.”

Biden pointed out that wildfires have destroyed more acreage this year than is included in the state of New Jersey. “You saved South Lake Tahoe,” he told firefighters.

Biden also noted he had used the Defense Production Act to produce fire hose and directed the EPA to come up with a way to deliver smoke and fire information to mobile phones.

“I’m here to hear what’s on your mind and what more my administration can be doing,” Biden said. “You know the time of the year the air fills with smoke and the sky turns orange. That time is getting earlier every year.”

“We can’t continue to try and ignore reality,” Biden added. “President Obama used to always say, ‘reality has a way of working its way in.’ And the reality is we have a global warming problem.”

Biden support group decided not to demonstrate

1 p.m.: Idaho Women for Biden/Harris decided not to demonstrate its support at President Joe Biden’s visit because of COVID-19 concerns, the group said in a news release.

“Hundreds of our members have expressed a desire to rally in support of the president, and some even talked of chartering buses from the furthest parts of the state to come to Boise to welcome him,” Betty Richardson said in a written statement. “In researching how a gathering might be feasible, we kept the safety and well-being of our members uppermost in our mind. After extensive consultations with medical experts, we determined that it would be irresponsible to host a public rally at this time.

“… The best way to show support for the President is to vigorously advocate for his positive agenda. In order to do that, we need to remain healthy and energetic for the legislative and electoral battles ahead.”

A call to action on wildfire

12:45 p.m.: Grant Beebe, Bureau of Land Management’s assistant director for fire and aviation, said at a round-table with President Joe Biden that the West’s wildfires underscore “the nation’s needs to recommit resources to fire prevention, preparedness and response.”

Almost an Idahoan?

12:33 p.m.: Biden said he once interviewed for a job with Boise Cascade, and that he and his late first wife Neilia considered moving to Idaho.

“Such a beautiful, beautiful state,” Biden said.

Biden also mentioned his connection to former Idaho senator Frank Church.

Biden speaks on climate change

12:30 p.m.: President Joe Biden said at Boise’s National Interagency Fire Center that the country must do more to address climate change and warned that the extreme weather and drought will only get worse.

”We need to do more,” Biden said. “We can’t continue to try to ignore reality. … The reality is, we have a global warming problem.”

He thanked Idaho Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo for their work and bipartisanship on wildfire prevention and told firefighters they “have the full support” of Biden’s administration.

Conservation Voters says visit at a ‘critical time’

12:07 p.m.: Conservation Voters for Idaho will be involved in President Joe Biden’s Idaho visit.

“The president’s visit couldn’t come at a more critical time when our state has been navigating the cost of inaction on climate change, from historic heatwaves and smoke-filled skies to increasing drought,” Rialin Flores, Conservation Voters for Idaho’s executive director, said in a written statement.

“Thankfully, Idaho communities like the City of Boise have been leading on climate action policy for some time now. Three out of four Idahoans are now living in communities that benefit from city, county or utility clean energy commitments. With new partnerships and investments at the federal level like the Build Back Better plan, we can work together to ensure we protect Idaho for future generations, build a clean energy economy and leave no community behind.”

Biden arrives in Boise

12 p.m.: Air Force One has touched down at Gowen Field at the Boise Airport.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean greeted Biden when he departed Air Force One. They spoke for more than a minute, according to a pool report distributed by the White House.

Biden stepped off the plane at 11:54 a.m.

Protesters gather near Boise Airport

9:43 a.m.: Hundreds of people gathered near the Boise Airport on Monday morning to protest the arrival of President Joe Biden.

Cars crowded along Airport Way, with banners deriding Biden and promoting former President Donald Trump.

William McNabb, of Nampa, arrived with his memorial honoring fallen soldiers, including 13 recently killed during the withdrawal of U.S. military from Afghanistan.

McNabb said he showed up to support the soldiers and as a critique to Biden for decisions made around the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Dan McKnight, one of the event’s organizers, estimated 2,000 people people were there as of 9:30 a.m. However, he said he would be disappointed if less than 5,000 showed up for the protest.

“We have a lot to say,” McKnight said.

McKnight was an advocate for ending “forever wars” and was part of an Idaho Statesman story about the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

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William McNabb, of Nampa, used President Biden’s visit to Boise on Monday to call attention to the military members killed in Afghanistan while the U.S. was withdrawing. Kyle Land kland@idahostatesman.com

Idaho House Speaker takes aim at Biden vaccine policy

9:24 a.m.: Ahead of Biden’s arrival in Idaho, key politicians are speaking out against his proposed vaccine mandate and testing requirements for many workers.

Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke said the Legislature will take action if necessary “to prevent this from occurring in our great state.”

“The actions of the Biden Administration announced on Thursday are completely unacceptable,” Bedke said in a statement. “Their decision to impose a government mandated medical procedure is unconstitutional. This is one more example of dangerous federal encroachment in the lives of everyday Americans. For weeks, I have addressed the importance of keeping the government out of the relationship between employers and employees as much as possible. More importantly, however, is protecting the inherent value of medical decisions remaining between individuals and their medical provider. The actions of the Biden Administration fly in the face of all we hold dear in Idaho.”

Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher also weighed in:

Idaho Gov. Little will participate in Biden visit

9:04 a.m.: Idaho Gov. Brad Little will be at a round-table discussion on wildfires with Biden at the National Interagency Fire Center, spokesperson Marissa Morrison Hyer said.

Little last week said the state is considering a lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate and testing requirements for many workers.

“It is wrong for President Biden to dismiss the concerns of millions of Americans and tell governors who represent Americans that he will use his powers as president to get them out of the way,” Little said in a news release last week. “This is not leadership. When President Biden took office, he promised to do his best to unify our country, and he has only driven us further apart. President Biden is out of touch, and his mandates only add to the divisiveness within our country.”

‘Climate crisis is code red’

8:55 a.m.: President Joe Biden began his trip to Boise on Monday morning. He traveled from Delaware by helicopter, leaving at 8:31 a.m. Eastern, to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. He boarded Air Force One at 9:26 a.m. Eastern, bound for Boise.

He is scheduled to arrive in Boise at 11:50 a.m. Mountain.

Biden will receive a briefing from federal and state fire agency officials at 12:15 p.m. at the National Interagency Fire Center, which is located adjacent to the Boise Airport.

He’ll also visit NIFC, beginning at 12:55 p.m.

He is scheduled to depart Boise at 1:55 p.m.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean tweeted Sunday evening that she is “excited to share” Boise’s Climate Action Roadmap with Biden.

This is Biden’s first official trip to the West Coast as president — he has events in California later in the day, including an aerial survey of the Caldor Fire. He’ll be in Colorado on Tuesday.

“During the trip, President Biden will see firsthand the significant physical, human, and economic costs of wildfires,” a White House official said, according to the pool reporter assigned to cover his departure this morning. “As one in three Americans are impacted by the increasing frequency of ferocity of extreme weather events, he will reiterate the message he shared on the East Coast last week: the climate crisis is code red. The President will make clear that these extreme weather events require bold, ambitious, and decisive action — now. And he will underscore how the investments he is proposing in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and Build Back Better Agenda will strengthen our nation’s resilience to climate change and extreme weather events, advance environmental justice, and create good-paying, union jobs.”

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Hayat Norimine covers state politics for the Statesman. She has covered government for The Dallas Morning News and in Washington state, is a University of Washington grad and has a master’s in journalism from Northwestern.

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