United States Senator Patty Murray United States Senator Patty Murray

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Senator Murray Statement on Wildfire State of Emergency in Washington State

Jul 07 2021

Senator Murray: “I’m focused on doing everything I can to mitigate these crises and to ensure Washington state is prepared for the worst”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, released the following statement on Governor Jay Inslee declaring a wildfire state of emergency.

“Devastating wildfires and record-setting droughts are quickly becoming the new normal – it’s something I take incredibly seriously and I’m focused on doing everything I can to mitigate these crises and to ensure Washington state is prepared for the worst. 

“I’m glad Governor Inslee is taking action at the state level, and I'm working to push my colleagues and this administration to take further proactive measures that will help prevent or at least curb some of the destruction we’ve seen in recent years.

“As an appropriator, fully funding the federal government’s wildland firefighting resources is my immediate priority.

“Long term, as droughts and fire seasons become more severe as a result of climate change, we need to take decisive action to build resiliency, curb emissions and tackle the climate crisis head on – the forthcoming infrastructure package will be one of our best opportunities to take bold action on climate in a generation and I don’t intend to let it pass us by.”

In recent years, Senator Murray also worked to pass legislation that created a budget for firefighting efforts separate from the rest of the National Forest Service’s budget (commonly referred to as the fire funding fix). Until the fix that Senator Murray helped secure, the Forest Service would have to pull significant resources from its general budget to fight wildfires (fire borrowing), which exhausted their available resources for forest management, creating an untenable situation and painful cycle that made forests more liable to catch on fire. As noted in a study by the Center for American Progress, “ending fire borrowing could free up roughly $1.3 billion annually that had been redirected to pay for firefighting.”

Two major federal projects, the Yakima River Basin Project and Columbia River Basin Project, would transform water management and drought resiliency capabilities for the entire region, making a significant difference as Washington state works to fend off worsening fires and manage more severe droughts – as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray has prioritized securing the necessary funding for both projects each year. This Congress she will continue pushing to secure more funding to accelerate these projects through the regular appropriations process and any additional infrastructure legislation.





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