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CNN NEWSROOM

Interview with California Director of Forestry and Fire Protection Thom Porter; Interview with Air Force Hurricane Hunter Kendall Dunn; Interview with 3M Chairman and CEO Mike Roman. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 16, 2020 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I think we might have some video of this.

And it's also important for people to know that it is the federal government that manages 57 percent of the forest land in the state of California, and then you have the state managing a small percentage and then 40 percent being private land.

But the president has continuously blamed those -- like you -- in charge of managing the forest. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think this is more of a management situation.

Oh, it is about forest management. Please remember the words, very simple: "forest management," please remember.

(APPLAUSE)

It's about forest management. And other things, but forest management.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Can you reply directly to that criticism?

THOM PORTER, DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA FORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION: Well, I think forest management is the key, and doing more prescribed burning but also active management through our partnerships with the timber industry as well as environmental groups and conservancies who all have a piece (INAUDIBLE).

All of California's forests are in peril. We've seen the entire state -- as I was mentioning previously -- drying out. The soil is not supporting the trees to be healthy and resilient. There are too many trees on the landscape in certain areas, and they're dying. So what we need to do is find a way to turn back the clock to even more than a hundred years ago as far as the number of trees on the landscape, and be able to run a prescribed fire under those areas. It's very key that (INAUDIBLE) 57 percent is federal land, and we need

that partnership in order to make a difference.

HARLOW: Yes, right. It's not just the responsibility of the state of California, there's a bit federal role here to play.

Before you go, listen to this exchange from the room you were in with the president on Monday about the impact of climate change on all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It'll start getting cooler, you just -- you just watch.

WADE CROWFOOT, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY FOR NATURAL RESOURCES: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Well, I don't think science knows, actually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Science does know. What are the consequences of the president not believing that?

PORTER: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, in forest management, forests can be very resilient. And I -- we'll have to say that the planet is getting warmer, we know that. And trees are going to have a significant impact from that warming of the climate.

We're starting to see that forests that are typically just in the mountaintops in Southern California are starting to go away. The Southern Sierra, we're seeing massive die-off of trees from epidemic beetle levels. And now, we're starting to see fires and devastating type of activities in the redwoods, which doesn't happen. In our lifetimes, this has not happened.

In 2000 years, it has happened, but not in our lifetime --

HARLOW: OK.

PORTER: -- in our time on this -- on this land.

HARLOW: Chief Porter, thank you for your time. But more for what you are all doing out there around the clock.

PORTER: Thank you, Poppy, and thanks for this interview.

HARLOW: Of course -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Those folks, really being stretched to the limits. We wish them luck.

[10:33:37]

Well, as Sally batters the Gulf, officials are right now relying on critical data that was collected from hurricane hunters. I'm going to speaking with one of those folks who flies right through the storm, that's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Hurricane Sally is slowly battering the Gulf Coast, and officials are right now relying on critical data collected by an Air Force team known as the Hurricane Hunters. These are brave people.

Hours ago right before landfall, crews made their final flight into the storm's eyewall.

With me now is Major Kendall Dunn, he is the 53rd Weather -- he is a 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron pilot, oversaw the ground operations for all the Hurricane Hunter flights for Sally.

Good to have you on. You'll have to tell me later what it's like to fly through one of these things, but tell us in particular what's different about this storm, what you learned by flying through it.

KENDALL DUNN, U.S. AIR FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER: Yes, sir, good morning. The thing about Sally, this storm was very, very slow-moving. We were tracking it here point by point. Each time our aircraft made a pass through the center, we would actually plot our coordinates here and it was -- it was blowing us away, it was basically at a standstill, it wasn't moving.

So you know, we set our plan in place to hit the storm. We're used to seeing a storm moving, you know, 12 knots, moving out pretty quickly, but this thing wasn't moving at all. So it had a chance to build and surprisingly, it reduced in strength a little bit and then blew up to a Cat Two right before landfall.

SCIUTTO: We've been showing some pictures as you've been talking there -- and some of them actually look beautiful -- from inside the eyewall. And I know that on this particular storm, you were managing the ground operations, did not fly through this but you've flown through many before.

Just so folks at home know, what's it like? How do you experience the power when you're inside one of these things?

[10:40:02]

DUNN: Yes, sir. We say it's hours of boredom with moments of sheer terror, and that's the truth. You know, because I just flew a storm last week off the Belize -- the Belizean Coast, and that storm was rough, the mountain turbulence coming off of Honduras and places like that.

You know, you're relaxed, you know, you're having some water and a drink, and then all of a sudden it's 200-mile-an-hour winds, it's up, it's down, two Gs to negative Gs, winds all over the play jockeying the aircraft, trying to keep it level while our meteorologists in the back are doing their job, gathering data.

And they're pretty calm back there, and they don't always realize how tough it is up front but it could get pretty hairy, pretty hairy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, the way you just described, is that the way a lot of people describe combat, you know? Hours of boredom and --

DUNN: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- moments of terror.

I wonder this. I mean, you've had some experience watching these things up-close. Have you noticed the storm's change over time, right? I mean, because there's talk about how climate change is influencing the intensity of these things, the frequency, et cetera.

I mean, from -- I know that's a big-picture idea, but from inside, have you noticed change over time?

DUNN: Well, the biggest thing sir, like, every storm we go in, you know, we name them so they become a personality to us, and it's like every person you meet on the street. Some have a strong personality, and some have a weak one. And you're surprised every time.

I mean, a few years ago, a lot of people on the Gulf Coast remember we had Maria, who's a -- Irma, and they were all back-to-back, all Cat Fives, coming across from Africa. And you make one pass through the storm, you know, each pass is about an hour 45 minutes getting back into the middle of it. And it could be nothing, and then you come back in and it'd just shock you to death.

As far as overall change over time, I mean, you hear the old timers that were here for 20 years, and they have some of the scariest storms in history, some of the strongest ones. It ebb and flows as far as weather and hurricanes go. I can't put a real number on it, but just over time, you just never know.

I mean, we had Katrina that we lived through on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and it was terrible and we haven't had it since, and hopefully we won't have one for a while.

SCIUTTO: Well, we hope not. And I know the folks in Louisiana watch these storms so closely because of that experience. Major Kendall Dunn, please be safe next time you go up and thanks for coming on.

DUNN: Absolutely, have a good day.

HARLOW: All right. Well coming up, you know, the company, probably, from post-its and Scotch tape. But now, 3M is known by almost everyone in the world for that N95 mask that they make. Our exclusive interview with the chairman and CEO is next.

[10:42:47]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE ROMAN, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, 3M: We'll deliver a billion respirators -- N95 respirators -- in this year, in 2020. So it's really an amazing -- we doubled with our idle capacity, and then we doubled again with these additional investments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Welcome back. Well, we are already months into fighting this pandemic, and months into this fight to keep our critical health care workers protected. 3M has found itself carrying a lot of that burden, and it's a company you probably knew for Scotch tapes and post-it notes, but now it's the single largest producer of the crucial N95 mask.

I spoke with 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman about that pressure, this battle to meet demand and their move now to create a rapid COVID test.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: I do want to talk about the rapid tests that you've been developing with MIT for COVID-19. The goal is to deliver results in minutes. How far are you, do you believe, from an answer from the FDA on whether they'll approve that? And what do your initial results tell you about the accuracy?

ROMAN: With the National Institutes of Health, we have that partnership under way. We are working right now on developing an accurate and rapid test. And there's more work to be done there, but as we move forward we can bring 3M technology to rapidly scale that.

We're right in the middle of, really, developing the accurate test, and so it's --

HARLOW: OK.

ROMAN: -- we need to take a couple more steps before we can put a timeline out there and --

HARLOW: Yes.

ROMAN: -- really this needs to be proven out.

HARLOW: Let's talk about N95 respirators -- or masks. You're on this path to produce 95 million a month this fall, to produce 2 billion by the end of 2020. Did you ever, though, Mike, model for a pandemic of this magnitude? I know you learned a lot after SARS, but what about a pandemic like this?

ROMAN: Yes, the investment that we put in place coming out of SARS was the first step in fighting this kind of scale of pandemic. We'll deliver a billion respirators, N95 respirators, in this year, in 2020. So it's really an amazing -- we doubled with our idle capacity, and then we doubled again with these additional investments.

And the timeline to put those investments in place has been tremendous acceleration over what is, you know, even the most rapid approach in normal times. HARLOW: I know you guys surged capacity way early. At the end of

January, you started doing this. But one in three nurses in this country says they are short or out of N95 masks. An E.R. doctor who's a very good friend of mine is reusing theirs for five days in a row, then putting it in a paper bag to try to get it sanitized, then repeating and repeating. They were totally out of them at their hospital in June and July.

[10:50:00]

So I'm going to ask you a really simple question, but one I think a lot of people have. Why is it still so hard for folks to get N95 masks?

ROMAN: Well, it's the -- as I said, it's the capacity that we had available and the demand that came out of the pandemic. We were not in a position to meet that demand. Even today, the demand for N95s is greater than not only our production capacity, but the entire industry.

HARLOW: Yes.

ROMAN: So we're still facing a challenge to meet that demand.

And we are working in partnership with other companies to look at ways that you can reuse N95s, we're also exploring ways to bring other kinds of respiratory solutions. We have reusable respirators, which are another solution. They can't meet all the demand either, but there are other things that we're doing to fight it from every angle.

HARLOW: I just wonder what the lesson is learned for the country going forward, right? If we have another pandemic, and if -- if you think the U.S. wasn't prepared for this. I mean, look how much was lacking in the national stockpile. Was that a failure of the administration and of Congress?

ROMAN: Oh, I think what -- one of the lessons that's clearly already being learned is investing in inventory and capacity. And it's public- private partnerships that are doing that, part of the investment with the DOD is to be able to have capacity to build an inventory of N95s. It's also true, we're doing that in partnership with health care providers, making sure that they have sufficient inventory.

So it's -- there's a learning that's coming out of this pandemic that we -- broadly, we were not ready for the demand.

HARLOW: Can you tell me about that moment when you found out how big this was going to be, and your huge role as a company in it?

ROMAN: It was a very serious moment for us, a big responsibility but something that we were ready for and passionate about. And I don't -- you know, I think it was -- I'm very proud of the way we stepped forward without hesitation. We did things more quickly than we would in any other situation

We have 80 factories in 29 states, and we produce nearly everything we sell in the U.S. in factories in the U.S., including our largest production of N95 respirators. We do that around the world, we produce locally for the demand locally.

We have not offshored production to re-import back into the U.S. We've been able to manage to bring some capacity that we have available around the world back into the U.S., and a significant amount to make a difference. And that's part of --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Right, you've been bringing some masks --

ROMAN: -- being able to bring --

HARLOW: -- from China, from Asia back to the United States.

ROMAN: Right, and that's an opportunity to really bring our supply to the hotspots.

HARLOW: You're such a bellwether for the economy. Are you seeing good signs, are you seeing a slowing?

ROMAN: Well, there's still a lot of uncertainty out there. That said, there have been encouraging signs. We've seen improvements in areas like automobile builds, we've seen, I would say, strength in areas like home improvement and continued demand in areas like personal protective equipment and biopharma filtration. So it's -- we have seen sequentially momentum in the end markets.

HARLOW: You guys just announced a major investment in diversity, a $50 million five-year commitment to really addressing the racial opportunity gaps in this country following the killing of George Floyd in both of our hometown, you know, the Twin Cities, the town that 3M calls home. You had a very candid series of conversations with black employees at 3M.

As a white man with considerable power in that city at your company, what did you learn from that?

ROMAN: Well, it was, as you said, the killing of George Floyd, it hit us all hard. It hit 3Mers, it hit our African-American community especially hard. It -- for me, it was a call to action. And I really do believe companies and company leaders can and need to make a difference.

HARLOW: You have a 13-member leadership team. None of those members are black. You do have two of 11 board members that are African- American. Do you think that that needs to change? Do you think that you can make the changes you want to make internally without more diversity at the top?

ROMAN: We have 60 percent of our top 100 leaders are diverse, a third of our board is diverse including the two that you mentioned. We have -- a third of our senior leadership is diverse. That said, there's much more to do especially with underrepresented groups.

We have to make sure we're doing both in order to really step up and take the leadership responsibility that we have.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: We had about a half an hour conversation about a lot of stuff. You can listen to all of it on my "Boss Files" podcast, our full interview there, with 3M CEO Mike Roman.

SCIUTTO: They're right in the middle of it, you know? I mean --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- from the beginning of the response, and they're going to play a role going forward as this -- as we continue to live with this.

[10:55:02]

HARLOW: Will there be enough masks? It's a key question.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Thanks so much to all of you for joining us today. We'll see you tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto, NEWSROOM with our colleague John King starts right after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:02]

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Hello everybody, I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing this very, very busy news day with us.