During a speech in Sacramento on August 15, 2008 California Representative Kevin McCarthy claimed that fires produce more emissions than cars:
“What I have found”, Rep. McCarthy said, “because of these fires, there are studies that are showing they are producing more emissions than all of our cars are doing.”
Politifact looked into Rep. McCarthy’s statement. Here is an excerpt from their article:
Bill Stewart, a researcher at the UC Berkeley Center for Forestry, said there’s a key point missing from McCarthy’s statement. While fires emit more particulate matter, cars produce far more greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, he said.
“Those are two important but different issues,” Stewart said.
Mike Kleeman, a UC Davis professor of environmental engineering, added that wildfires also emit some greenhouse gases.
“But burned areas also regrow during which time they act as a net carbon sink. Assuming a burned area regrows completely over a time of decades, the net CO2 emissions should be low,” Kleeman wrote in an email.
“Wildfires are a problem,” he added, “and we should be taking steps to reduce their frequency and intensity. But it isn’t an ‘apples to apples’ comparison to an every-day source like cars.”
Earlier this month, the Trump administration proposed rules that would ease vehicle emissions standards nationwide.