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OUR PERSPECTIVES

Don’t Sleep on Wildfire Policy Moving This Year



Wildfire policy might not be top of mind, but opportunities to move the needle before the end of the year remain high. Fire policy remains, for the most part, bipartisan and congressional delegations representing states heavily impacted by extreme wildfire are incentivized to find legislative solutions. While there are vehicles for making impact, it’s up to external stakeholders to make the case for why fire policy should be a top priority during an election year when it is traditionally harder to move new legislation.


Here are a few opportunities for making change in this space:


Farm Bill: The House and Senate Farm Bill overviews show that prescribed fire, forest management, and firefighting training will play an important role in both versions. The differences in the House and Senate versions will present opportunities for the community to make the case for what should be included in the final version.


Existing and New Wildfire Legislation: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on a number of wildfire-related bills last year and the House Natural Resources Committee is in the process of collecting feedback on Chairman Westerman’s discussion draft. More bills addressing fire will be introduced in the next few months, which will give stakeholders a chance to make the case for a broader wildfire package in the lame duck. 


Agency Action: Agencies are continuing to spend down the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act funds dedicated to wildfire mitigation. Additionally, regulatory implementation of the EPA PM 2.5 rule will impact beneficial fire as well as forest management plans currently being considered by USFS.

 

Unfortunately, wildfires are not going away. It’s up to organizations focusing on legislative solutions to work with committees, agencies, and congressional offices on finding innovative policy solutions and advocating for existing policies that could mitigate extreme wildfire. This issue area is unique in that both legislative and regulatory vehicles exist for change and there is a bipartisan interest in advancing policies. Stakeholders should seize this moment and advocate for changes that will improve forest health and prevent extreme wildfire.

Yorumlar


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