Washington, DC (September 30, 2009)- As the nation has seen lately, fire season in the West is getting longer, hotter, and more intense. So, Chairman Bingaman is pleased to see key provisions from the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME) unanimously adopted as part of the Senate Interior Appropriations bill. The FLAME Act sets up a separate account and budget for fighting the largest and most complex fires, so that adequate funds are available and so that the agencies’ land management functions are not shorted.
While the Senate had to remove the reference to the Budget Act in order to move the amendment, the rest of the language remains unchanged. The next hurdle is to ensure that the language remains intact through conference. The FLAME Act will provide a better mechanisms for funding forest fires so the Forest Service does not have to raid all of its other programs and accounts.
The Senate appointed the following conferees: Feinstein; Byrd; Leahy; Dorgan; Mikulski; Kohl; Johnson; Reed; Nelson NE; Tester; Inouye; Alexander; Cochran; Bennett; Gregg; Murkowski; Collins; Bond. While the House has yet to publicly appoint theirs, we’re sure that Obey, Dicks, Simpson and Calvert (and the rest of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee) will be appointed.
The FLAME Act was introduced in the Senate in the spring by a bipartisan group of 15 co-sponsors, including Energy Committee Ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski as a lead co-sponsor. Senate Energy held a hearing on the bill at the end of July. In March, the House of Representatives passed a similar provision sponsored by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall by a whopping 412-3 vote.
Sen. Bingaman: “Funding wildfire fighting has become almost as difficult as fighting the fires. Today we took a significant step toward solving many of the recurring problems associated with expenses at the Forest Service and Department of the Interior. I especially appreciate the support Chairman Feinstein has given in adopting these provisions into the Interior Appropriations bill.”
Fire Suppression Google Group