Former FEMA Director Michael Brown Blames Environmentalists for the Southern California Fire

Published October 25, 2007

| FoxNews.com

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," October 24, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Meanwhile, another Alert for you: Former FEMA Director Michael Brown is blaming environmentalists for the mess in Southern California.

He joins us right now.

How is it environmentalists are behind this?

MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY DIRECTOR: Well, Neil, I was just listening to that report. And what fascinates me is, is they're missing the third leg of that argument.

And that is, if we are going to have growth and allow people to live where they want to live and choose to live, then we have got to start doing mitigation. They could be doing controlled burns. They could be doing forced thinning and clearing out some of that — that tinderbox that creates these fires. But the environmentalists won't let you do that.

CAVUTO: But the builders have kind of trumped the environmentalists, right? Against their recommendations, they have been building in these areas. So, the environmentalists claim, it's not us and brushes; it's them and homes.

What do you say?

BROWN: Well, except that, if you really study how these fires work — and I watched it in 2003 — is that, if you don't do the controlled burns and get rid of some of that fuel in there, then you have what we see right now. But, if you did the controlled burns, did the forest thinning, then those trees are not as susceptible to fire, and it would not be as bad as it is today.

CAVUTO: You know what? You probably know how this emergency stuff works when you get various people — Homeland Security is there now, that oversees FEMA.

BROWN: Right.

CAVUTO: FEMA itself is there. You have state officials there, some military types there. Who runs the show in — in this event, Michael?

BROWN: The state does. And the state always should.

And, in that respect, I think that Arnold is doing an incredibly good job. He has been in front of this issue. He ordered evacuations. He told people what to do. He had the Qualcomm Stadium and Del Mar set up. He did exactly what he was supposed to do.

And I think that stems from in 2003, when he and Gray Davis were going through that recall fight. I remember having Gray Davis on one side and Arnold on the other side.

CAVUTO: Yes.

BROWN: And Arnold was paying attention. He learned from that experience.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you. The president is supposed to come to California tomorrow. Everyone remembers the Katrina situation. You, you know, suffered some bad P.R. then, even though it was later indicated that you in fact had been warning about the severity of what was going on there.

How important is it for the president to show up so soon? Some people are saying, bad idea, bad timing, just as they did at the time in New Orleans. Is there a rule of thumb on this?

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: There is no rule of thumb.

And I remember having numerous conversations with the White House, with Andy Card and others, about, is this a good day? Should we wait a few more days?

The key is, because of the president's entourage and the security apparatus that comes with it, you just have to make certain that his movement through that area does not disrupt anything. And that is the call the White House has to make.

CAVUTO: All right, Michael Brown, I want to thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

BROWN: Always good to talk to you, Neil.

Content and Programming Copyright 2007 FOX News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, Inc.'s and Voxant Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/10/25/former-fema-director-michael-brown-blames-environmentalists-for-southern