Perlmutter Secures Amendments, Applauds Passage of Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) applauded passage of the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act (WRDR Act) in the U.S. House on Friday, which included four amendments authored by Perlmutter. Climate change has increased wildfire risk nationally presenting a year-round threat to the United States as well as made drought more severe and persistent, with parts of the western U.S. experiencing their driest conditions in over 1,200 years. Together, the effects of wildfire and drought cost the U.S. roughly $20 billion in 2021 alone.

The WRDR Act is a package of 49 bills that will provide much-needed investments to improve fire-adapted ecosystems, protect communities against catastrophic wildfires, enhance drought resiliency, expand science programs, modernize data and technology, and ensure a whole-of-government approach to wildfire and drought issues. The bill will also help improve the understanding of wildfires, their behavior, and their long-lasting effects.

“Close to half of Colorado’s population lives in or near places prone to wildfires. We need to get serious about our approach to wildfires to protect people’s lives, their homes, and our natural resources. It’s long past time Congress took the issue of climate change and wildfires seriously, and this package is a big step forward in ensuring we can better prepare for and respond to these worsening threats,” said Perlmutter.

Perlmutter spoke on the House floor last week in support of the package. Click here for his full remarks.

As part of the package, Perlmutter secured four amendments:
• Expand research and development opportunities to better protect buildings from wildfire hazards as well as promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, and encourage greater collaboration between FEMA and other agencies on hazard resilience research to protect buildings from wildfires.
• Ensure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collaborates with other agencies, like NASA, on its work in fire weather forecasting and alerts.
• Expand the Department of Energy’s activities under the Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program to include fire modeling, forecasting fire spread, and analysis of wildfire fuels.
• Expand opportunities for NOAA and NASA to purchase commercial data products from satellites and airborne data sources to support their efforts to improve our understanding of wildfires under the bill.

As a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Perlmutter is also a lead sponsor of H.R. 5781, the National Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program Act, a comprehensive package to identify and invest in R&D, set up warning and forecast systems, develop observation and sensing technologies, and standardize data collection efforts to improve the nation’s preparedness, resilience, and response to wildfires. Earlier this year, Perlmutter also introduced H.R. 6845, the Commercial Remote Sensing Amendment Act to support commercial remote sensing activities in the U.S. and renew the requirement for an annual report on the status of commercial remote sensing applications and regulations. H.R. 6845 also passed the U.S. House this week.

Perlmutter and fellow House Science Committee members have advocated for a more sustainable, comprehensive solution to the growing threat of wildfires across the U.S. but particularly in the Western U.S. Click here to read their op-ed in the Colorado Sun from March 2021.

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