Resolution Looks To Allow Firefighters To Use Retardant This Summer
On Tuesday, central Washington’s Dan Newhouse, Chair of the Western Caucus, and California’s Doug LaMalfa, Vice Chair, introduced the Forest Protection and Wildland Firefighter Safety Act of 2023. In addition House Legislation, companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Wyoming's Cynthia Lummis.
Supporters of House Resolution 1586 say the legislation creates a Clean Water Act exemption for federal, state, local, and tribal firefighting agencies so they can continue to use fire retardant to fight wildfires. A case in the Federal District Court of Montana is being litigated that could ban the use of aerial fire retardants nationwide during the up coming wildfire fire season.
Newhouse and LaMalfa says that would place western communities who routinely experience wildland fires at great risk.
“Firefighters risk their lives to protect our communities and our forests, and we should listen to them when they tell us that fire retardant makes their job safer and is an essential tool to protect lives,” Newhouse said. “The 2023 fire season has already started in the drier parts of the country and burned through over 60,000 acres in the first couple of months alone. We must ensure fire retardant remains available to our firefighters for the 2023 fire season in order to avoid the destruction of our communities, and I am proud to introduce this legislation alongside Congressman LaMalfa to do just that.”
“Fire retardant is an essential tool in wildland firefighting, especially in the West. Not only is it absurd to try to take away that tool, it’s flat out dangerous,” La Malfa noted. “These regressive environmentalists are scared that a little bit of fire retardant could get into our rivers while we’re fighting another million-acre fire. But they care nothing about the forests burning down, people and animals fleeing for their lives, and the land covered in ash. Pollution from even larger fires will not only harm fish, but the air pollution will choke vulnerable people up to hundreds of miles away.”
“Radical environmental activists have no idea how dangerous it would be to take away the ability to use fire retardant during a wildfire,” said Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis. “Wildland firefighters in Wyoming and throughout the west need to be able to use every tool available to them in order to control wildfires, which is why I’m introducing the Forest Protection and Wildland Firefighter Safety Act of 2023 to protect life, public lands and property from fires.”
“Years of neglect and mismanagement by the federal government has resulted in more frequent and destructive wildfires,” said Idaho Representative Russ Fulcher. “We must maximize the tools at our disposal—including fire retardant—in order to better fight the fires that threaten our local communities, economies, environment, and health.”
"When firefighters call in air support, it is because they need it. The last thing our air attack crews need when doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world is the federal government slowing them down with regulatory red tape,” said Representative Ryan Zinke. “The opposition’s stances have been debunked and the positive results are evident. I’ve stood in Elmo, Montana, and watched scoopers from Bridger Aerospace save homes, ranches and lives. Denying wildland firefighters the ability to implement their most efficient fire retardant technology is like sending troops into battle without air support.”
“Wildfires are a serious threat to life and property throughout the Western United States. Our firefighters need all possible tools to contain any damage caused,” said Representative Harriet Hageman. “Out of touch eco-activists filing lawsuits to stop the use of aerial fire retardants cannot be allowed to threaten the safety of our citizens, first responders, wildlife, livestock, and forests.”
“Firefighters must have every tool available to fight California’s catastrophic wildfires and save our towns and forests from destruction,” said Representative Kevin Kiley. “Fire retardant is a vital and lifesaving component of those efforts, and I am proud to join my colleagues in ensuring fire retardant is available to the firefighters depending upon it to protect our communities.”
“It has never been more apparent that firefighters need every tool at their disposal to contain wildfires,” said Representative Matt Rosendale. “The Forest Protection and Wildland Firefighter Safety Act of 2023 will allow firefighters to put their best weapons to use in fighting deadly forest fires and combat frivolous litigation from radical environmental activists that attempt to undermine their efforts.”
The United Aerial Firefighters Association released the following statement of support:
"UAFA notes with increasing concern the potential for a federal court to impose a restraining order against the use of aerially applied fire retardant as early as this coming fire season. Fire retardant is a proven, essential tool in assisting wildland firefighters in their fight to contain, control and defeat wildfire. As this lawsuit continues, with the potential to run into its second year, UAFA strongly supports Congressman LaMalfa’s legislation, the Forest Protection and Wildland Firefighter Safety Act of 2023, which allows the federal, states, and tribal governments to continue the use of aerially applied fire retardants.”
Click Here to read the full text of the Forest Protection and Wildland Firefighter Safety Act of 2023.
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