Senator John Thune released his bill in the same week that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources conducted a hearing on reducing risks to wildfire. The committee explored collaborative solutions to wildfire budgeting and forest management.
Bryan Rice from the Office of Wildland Fire at the Department of the Interior urged Congress for increased funding for various programs relating to the prevention and management of wildfires, and specifically highlighted the importance of fuel management programs. Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) emphasized the importance of finding a wildfire management solution that is fiscally responsible while mitigating further damage to federal forest land.
Last week, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing titled, “Increasing Water Security and Drought Preparedness through Infrastructure, Management, and Innovation.” The purpose of the hearing was to identify methods to strengthen water infrastructure and drought preparedness. In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) expressed a desire to build on last years’ drought legislation and encourage innovations in water infrastructure that will increase the water supply in Arizona and the nation as a whole. Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, representing the Sonoma County Water Agency, provided the committee with a local perspective on the issues of drought preparedness and water infrastructure. Supervisor Zane urged subcommittee members to support funding for investment in updated precipitation forecasting technology and to update rule curves for reservoir operations. Together, these regulatory updates would increase the water supply in the west and improve water storage in California. During the question and answer segment of the hearing, Supervisor Zane added that the federal government would save billions of dollars in emergency mitigation funds if improvements are made to forecasting technologies.