Obama pitches wildfire funding plan to Western governors

2014-06-09T19:00:00Z 2014-07-05T17:31:28Z Obama pitches wildfire funding plan to Western governorsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
June 09, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – President Barack Obama on Monday encouraged a group of governors to support a plan to pay for wildfire suppression, and the proposal got a positive reception from the 10 leaders gathered for an annual summit.

Obama made the pitch by telephone to governors meeting in Colorado Springs at the Western Governors Association conference. Under the plan, the federal government would budget money for fighting wildfires instead of raiding funding allocated for mitigation efforts.

The change is pending in Congress, and Obama encouraged the governors to urge enactment.

Fighting wildfires this year will cost about $1.8 billion, Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack told the governors on the call. That’s $470 million more than Congress has budgeted.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Vilsack repeated the administration’s argument that it’s better to directly budget money for firefighting than to shift money from prevention efforts.

“That’s precisely the money that we would use to do the kind of wildland, wildfire preparedness, forest restoration and other activities that over time would reduce the risk of these fires, or at least reduce the intensity of them,” Vilsack said.

The governors got a report from the Agriculture Department showing what prevention projects in their states have been delayed because of funding shifts.

“I think it really does make sense to actually dedicate the money to putting out the fires and not robbing from the mitigation efforts,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said governors would urge Congress to support the plan, “and make sure that they recognize that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy was expected to speak to the governors on Tuesday, a week after announcing big cuts in pollution produced by the country’s power plants.

Other governors attending the conference are Jan Brewer of Arizona, C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Gary Herbert of Utah and Matt Mead of Wyoming.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(2) Comments

  1. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - June 10, 2014 10:42 am
    Why cannot the government sufficiently fund firefighting costs, when it is squandering trillions of dollars in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government? The ultimate cost? $4 to $6 trillion - not to mention the loss of life and wounds to soldiers and civilians?

    http://www.nationofchange.org/wars-afghanistan-iraq-cost-us-over-4-trillion-1392732855
  2. walter12
    Report Abuse
    walter12 - June 10, 2014 7:04 am
    Would you trust this Obama to pitch anything?
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