WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) led fellow Western Senators in a letter urging Senate committee chairs to include funding for wildfire and drought prevention, mitigation, and relief measures in their respective sections of the forthcoming budget reconciliation legislation.

“In the West, climate change has increased the severity and frequency of wildfires and caused record high temperatures and drought conditions. In order to adequately address the climate crisis and support Western communities, the reconciliation legislation must build on the success of the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill and expand investments in wildfire and drought programs,” wrote the Senators. “As you know, wildfires continue to worsen each year and pose a threat to human health, personal property, wildlife, and our public lands. In 2020, nearly 60,000 wildfires burned more than 10.3 million acres and destroyed more than 17,000 structures.”

“Over 90% of the West is currently experiencing drought, with the majority of areas subject to significantly below-average precipitation and extended dry periods. Unfortunately, this means that this wildfire season will likely once again be catastrophic,” the Senators’ letter continued. “We urge you to provide robust funding for programs across the federal government that will enable our communities to mitigate, respond, and recover from the wildfires and drought we are currently fighting.”

BACKGROUND: In addition to Senator Rosen, the letter was also signed by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennett (D-CO), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO).

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Chairs:

As you develop budget reconciliation legislation, we request that you include dedicated funding to address the wildfires and drought afflicting Western states in the U.S. Each of your Committees received instructions from the Senate Budget Committee to fund programs for climate change mitigation, resilience, and/or research. In the West, climate change has increased the severity and frequency of wildfires and caused record high temperatures and drought conditions. In order to adequately address the climate crisis and support Western communities, the reconciliation legislation must build on the success of the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill and expand investments in wildfire and drought programs.

As you know, wildfires continue to worsen each year and pose a threat to human health, personal property, wildlife, and our public lands. In 2020, nearly 60,000 wildfires burned more than 10.3 million acres and destroyed more than 17,000 structures. Over 90% of the West is currently experiencing drought, with the majority of areas subject to significantly below-average precipitation and extended dry periods. Unfortunately, this means that this wildfire season will likely once again be catastrophic.

Each of your committees has the opportunity to address the growing threat of wildfires and drought. Within your respective committee jurisdictions, we ask you to include the following provisions in reconciliation legislation:

  • Funding for land management agencies to respond to and prevent further wildfires;
  • Emergency support for state, local, and Tribal governments, and to assist water districts

and other units of local government with emergency drought response needs;

  • Wildfire and drought research and development of technologies, including desalination

research and snowpack and evapotranspiration monitoring; and

  • Funding to combat air and water pollution from wildfire smoke, and environmental

drought funding.

We urge you to provide robust funding for programs across the federal government that will enable our communities to mitigate, respond, and recover from the wildfires and drought we are currently fighting.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

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