Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded the House for passing the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act, a package of bills to help federal wildfire response and mitigation efforts and combat the Western drought.
“The House is correct to prioritize these two critical issues,” Senator Feinstein said. “Wildfire and drought are two existential threats for the Western United States, particularly California. We must do all we can to prepare for and combat wildfires and improve our water infrastructure to better cope with ongoing drought conditions.
“As climate change gets worse and temperatures rise, we know that droughts will become more destructive and wildfires more deadly. That’s why these two issues are my top priorities, and I’m pleased that several provisions I have authored this year are included in the bill that passed today. I am working to ensure the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will move similar legislation later this year.”
Feinstein provisions in the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act:
- Senator Feinstein’s Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act, a provision to lift an overtime pay cap that reduces the salaries earned by wildland firefighters. Toward the end of the annual wildfire season, many federal firefighters exceed the annual pay cap and receive no pay for additional overtime hours worked or are forced to pay back money they rightfully earned fighting wildfires. This provision lifts that overtime pay cap.
- A provision in Senator Feinstein’s Wildfire Emergency Act to implement large-scale forest restoration projects to restore forest ecosystems to their natural conditions. Currently, forest restoration projects are often narrowly focused and only encompass a few hundred to a few thousand acres. By funding up to 20 projects of at least 100,000 acres each, the Forest Service will be able to conduct landscape-scale projects to reduce the potential for wildfires by removing dead and dying trees, using controlled burns to reduce fuel for larger fires, clearing out invasive and non-native species and creating habitat better suited for wildlife and native species.
- A provision in Senator Feinstein’s Wildfire Emergency Act to establish a prescribed fire training center in the West to coordinate research and training of foresters and forest managers in the latest methods and innovations in controlled burns, a key strategy to reduce of catastrophic fires and improve the health of forests. Currently there is only one such training center, which is located in Florida.
- A provision in Senator Feinstein’s Wildfire Emergency Act to establish a $500 million Community Capacity and Land Stewardship grant program to help disadvantaged communities develop and implement wildfire mitigation plans for the surrounding forest and grasslands.
- A provision in Senator Feinstein’s Wildfire Emergency Act to establish a $100 million grant program to expand the use of distributed energy systems, including microgrids, that will help reduce areas affected when high winds force power shutoffs.
- Several provisions based on language in Senator Feinstein’s STREAM Act to improve California’s drought resiliency through funding for water recycling projects, desalination projects, grants for drinking water for disadvantaged communities and ecosystem restoration projects.