Wyden Pushes Trump Administration to Support Wildfire Funding Fix in Disaster Aid for Hurricane Harvey
Washington, D.C. – After the governors of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and California declared states of emergency from wildfires ripping across the West, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today pushed the Trump administration to include wildfire funding fix in any request to Congress for disaster aid.
Wyden has repeatedly pushed Congress to pass a wildfire fix and reform the way the federal government fights wildfires. Wyden and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, first introduced in 2013 the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. A similar wildfire funding fix was included in July in legislation under consideration by the Senate Banking Committee to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program.
Both approaches would end the cycle of underfunding fire suppression that currently forces federal agencies to steal from fire prevention to fight fires. They would also end “fire borrowing” by funding the largest wildfires from a similar disaster account used to fund other natural disasters.
“Right now hundreds of thousands of acres are burning across Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, and Utah. More than 7.65 million acres of forests have burned this year alone,” Wyden wrote in a letter to Trump.
“As the long recovery begins in Houston and the surrounding areas, I ask that you also include a wildfire funding fix in any disaster aid request you send to Congress,” Wyden wrote.“It is long past time to address the ongoing, devastating natural disaster of wildfires raging across western states.”
In an August letter to the leaders of the Senate Banking Committee, Wyden, along with Sens. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., urged the Senate to work to pass a wildfire funding fix similar to the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act in legislation under consideration by the Senate Banking Committee to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the risk of flooding after wildfires is“significantly higher” for up to five years after a wildfire. Wildfires increase the risk of floods and flash flooding by wiping out trees, shrubs and other plants that allow soil to absorb rainfall and snowmelt.
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