Rep. Cook Votes for Federal Wildfire Policy Improvements
WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today voted for HR 2266, which includes additional wildfire funding and improved authority for active forest management. This legislation also included funding for recovery from several recent Hurricanes and improves accountability of federal agencies by including stronger reporting and oversight requirements. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
A long-time advocate for improvements in federal wildfire policy, Cook recently joined 31 other members of Congress in sending a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting comprehensive forest management and wildland fire budgeting reforms as part of the next disaster relief request.
The National Interagency Fire Center reports 49,563 fires have burned 8.4 million acres so far in 2017. According to the U.S. Forest Service (FS), another 80 million acres throughout the country are currently considered ‘high risk.’ The FS has expended more than $2.3 billion to fight fires in fiscal year 2017 alone, a new record. The House Committee on Natural Resources reports that in 2016, wildfires destroyed 4,312 structures, including 3,192 residences.
Catastrophic fires also cause significant damage to the environment. Data from NASA has concluded that one catastrophic wildfire can emit more carbon emissions in a few days than total vehicle emissions in an entire state over the course of a year.
Rep. Cook said, “Wildfire funding is crucial to dealing with the constant deadly threat of wildfires in districts like mine and throughout California. I’ve long been an advocate for reforms and improved funding. You can only watch so many fires take lives, destroy homes, and create untold environmental damage before you demand changes in our wildfire policy and budgeting. The fires we’ve seen this week only reinforce the need for this legislation. This is long overdue.”
A member of the House Armed Services, Natural Resources, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
Click here to view the letter Congressman Cook signed to OMB Director Mulvaney.