Cantwell Applauds Emergency Declaration, Will Sponsor Air Tanker Legislation

By:  Paige Browning
Source: Spokane Public Radio

President Obama’s emergency declaration for Washington unlocks federal firefighting tools. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell applauded the declaration during a stop in Spokane Friday, but says the state still needs aerial resources.

Senator Cantwell has spent the week meeting people affected by fires in Okanogan and Stevens County.

“We obviously have a lot more to do to protect our communities,” said Cantwell.

On her way through Washington, Cantwell stopped at Aero-Flite in Spokane, the country’s largest private operator of water scooping aircraft.

She says on top of Obama’s declaration, she and other lawmakers will introduce legislation next week to fund more air tankers.

“Especially given that 50 percent of requests for air tankers go unanswered, that is we don’t have enough of them,” said Cantwell. “So we want to make sure that if we need to obtain more, that we look in our next firefighting bill to do so.”

The federal Energy and Natural Resources committee will hold a field meeting in Seattle next week on the topic.