Lofgren Provision to Improve Firefighting Asset-Sharing Advances in the House
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives included an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) to identify national surveillance assets that could help combat the nation’s wildfire crisis, as well as ways to make such defense assets useable to the firefighting community. The amendment was included as part of “En Bloc 2,” which passed by a vote of 367-59.
“The 2021 fire season in in full swing – devasting communities in California and across the West. DOD and the intelligence community have unique capabilities and assets we know can help better detect ignitions, track fire lines, and provide ongoing assessments of fires for the wildfire management and suppression community. By including this amendment, Congress is bringing all resources to bear in response to deadly fires,” said Rep. Lofgren.
DOD’s assets can help detect new wildfires faster and allow emergency responders to track their expansion in near real time. However, many of those assets are classified and not readily available to the firefighting community. Lofgren’s amendment would help Congress understand opportunities, limitations, and necessary policies around the use of such assets for firefighting and suppression through a DOD report. Click here for the full text of the amendment.
Relevant Facts About U.S. & CA Wildfires
In 2020, U.S. wildfires burned 10.27 million acres, the highest annual total since accurate recordkeeping began.
- The previous record was 10.13 million acres in 2015.
- In 2015, more than 50% of the burned acreage was caused by wildfires in Alaska, whereas over 98% of the acreage burned in 2020 was in the contiguous U.S.
- California experienced 9,600 fires in 2020 that killed 33 people, burned 4.1 million acres and destroyed 10,000 structures.
So far in 2021, nearly 6 million acres have burned.
- Firefighters in California are currently battling at least nine large wildfires throughout the state, including The Windy Fire in southern California, which is the most active wildfire in the country right now.
- There are currently more than 3 million acres of U.S. land currently impacted by a wildfire.
Recent, Related Lofgren Actions
- On September 16, 2021, Lofgren joined San Jose State University for a conversation on wildfires, drought, and environmental justice.
- On July 12, 2021, Lofgren secured $1.15 million for the Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center at San Jose State University in the House Appropriations Committee’s FY 2022 funding bills.
- On June 30, 2021, Lofgren introduced the Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act to waive annual premium pay caps for federal firefighters working overtime to battle increasingly intense wildfires.
- On June 29, 2021, Lofgren chaired a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on the state of federal wildland fire science.
- On June 28, 2021, the House passed the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act, which included a provision from Lofgren to support wildfire resilience efforts. The NSF for the Future Act passed the SST Committee on June 28, 2021.
- On March 24, 2021, Lofgren, along with Reps. 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 for wildfire science in its Fiscal Year 2022 budget request.
- On September 24, 2020, Lofgren-authored wildfire prevention and power shutoff provisions passed the House. They were included in H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act.