Cantwell Statement on Biden Visit to Survey Wildfire Damage in the West

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) issued the following statement after President Biden’s visit to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, ID where he spoke on the need for immediate action to fight against climate change through climate provisions included in the budget reconciliation bill.

“Wildfires are becoming increasingly dangerous and severe across Washington state and throughout the West. As the threat to lives and communities grows, I am working with my Congressional colleagues to secure additional federal support for better fire prediction and monitoring technologies, forest management efforts like mechanical thinning, controlled burns, and hazardous fuels reduction, and hardening our electricity and telecommunications networks to ensure they don’t go down when people need them most.  

I am glad President Biden is visiting Boise to better understand the severity of the wildfires plaguing the West and his willingness to help us secure the resources our heroic firefighters and frontline communities need right now.”

Cantwell championed significant investment in wildfire response and recovery efforts included in the Senate-Passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), such as $3.4 billion for wildfire risk reduction efforts by the Department of the Interior, $1.1 billion for hazardous fuel reduction, and more.

In August, Cantwell joined her colleagues in a letter to press the administration to address the jet fuel shortages undercutting the firefighting efforts. In the energy and natural resources infrastructure package approved in July by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Cantwell supported additional funding to address the growing risk of devastating wildfires.

In late 2020 and early 2021, Cantwell repeatedly called for an official disaster declaration to allow communities in Washington to receive disaster relief from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to help recover from the devastating wildfire season in 2020. Last October, Cantwell also joined her Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the National Guard Bureau requesting a report on its readiness to help states prevent and fight wildfires, address current needs, and utilize all available resources in response to longer, more extreme wildfire seasons.