COPE Advocacy and Policy Issues
From Congressperson Jared Huffman:
Link to whole newsletter.
Last November, I introduced the Wildfire Defense Act with Senator Kamala Harris to help local communities defend themselves from the growing danger of wildfires. This bill provides funding to design and implement new Community Wildfire Defense Plans driven by community members, first responders, and relevant state agencies. The bill supports science-based methods to prevent and mitigate wildfires such as clearing brush and other fire hazards, making critical infrastructure more resilient, and improving access for first responders.
My keystone public lands bill, the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, which passed the House earlier this year, also includes several fire-prevention provisions: it requires federal agencies to develop a coordinated approach to fire management in new wilderness areas, and it designates a new 730,000 acre restoration area where a fuels reduction program can reduce the danger of severe fires.
I also added fire emergency planning provisions to the Disaster Recovery Reform Act in the last Congress, later signed into law. The new law will allow states to apply for Hazard Mitigation Grants for wildfire prevention and mitigation efforts, and includes a new planning provision that I worked on with Sonoma County based on our experience in recent years: in planning for evacuation in response to disasters, FEMA needs to consider special needs populations who might need additional help such as individuals with disabilities, homeless, and the elderly.
The work continues. Just last week, I voted to pass the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which addresses the threat of wildfires on multiple levels by calling for:
- Federal mapping of wildfire risks around utilities for purposes of grid hardening, vegetation management, and more.
- EPA research into wildfire smoke emissions modeling and smoke forecasts.
- Data collection on the influence of building materials on structure fires.
- Weatherization enhancement programs to cover the use of heat and fire resistant materials for vulnerable low-income households.
- A program to provide rebates to homeowners to defray the cost of retrofitting homes to be wildfire resistant.