47 Members of Congress Urge the Biden Administration to Utilize Science to Prevent & Respond to Wildfires
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla led 47 members of Congress in urging the Biden Administration to “go big” on funding for science-based strategies to prevent and respond to destructive wildfires. The lawmakers called for the Administration to include at least $200 million in its Fiscal Year 2022 budget for wildfire science.
“Significant investment in research and development will greatly improve our ability to predict, plan, and rebuild from wildfires through the procurement of new scientific tools to enhance detection systems, development of new technologies, advancement of modeling capabilities, and improvement of understanding in fire behavior and the changing climate,” wrote the lawmakers. “We have seen promising evidence that improved forecasting will allow for increased warning times for evacuating communities and safer and more effective firefighting operations, improved fire risk models will reduce the frequency and limit the scope of public safety power shutoff events, and improved building and zoning standards in the wildland urban interface will mitigate property damage by wildfires.”
The letter follows one of the most destructive wildfire seasons in our country’s history. In 2020, more than 58,000 wildfires burned more than 10 million acres, inflicting direct damages of roughly $20 billion. In the letter, the lawmakers urged the Administration to establish a coordinating body that includes federal science agencies to ensure a comprehensive strategy for combatting wildfires. Although there are coordinating bodies in existence, they fail to incorporate scientific research and development, which are important to mitigating future devastation.