Chair Grijalva Cheers House Passage of Legislation to Address Wildfire and Drought

Washington, D.C.House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on House passage of H.R. 5118, the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency (WRDR) Act, by a bipartisan vote of 218-199. This legislation, led by National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee Chair Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), will build on the investments made by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to help communities respond to wildfire and drought.

The full text for the WRDR Act is available here and a section-by-section of the bill is available here. A summary of the bill is available here.

Last year, Congress came together to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a historic achievement that included priority investments in response to the climate crisis,” said Chair Grijalva. “As communities across the country continue to struggle with the ongoing effects of wildfire and persistent drought, this package of bills from across the Democratic Caucus builds on that work. This legislation provides strategic and targeted investments that will mitigate wildfire conditions, provides adequate pay and benefits for our wildland firefighters, promotes drought-proof water supply projects, and secures reliable drinking water for tribes. And as wildfire and drought layer on further environmental risks to already-overburdened environmental justice communities, the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act advances new protections for these communities. I am proud to see this bill pass the House, and I urge the Senate to take up this legislation alongside other House-passed bills to protect America’s public lands.”

“It has been roughly six months since the community I’m honored to serve experienced the most destructive wildfire in our state history. Today, the House has taken a significant step forward in our work to recover from these devastating disasters and better prepare for both wildfires and drought in the future by passing the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act. For the families across the country who’ve lost their homes due to wildfires, and for the neighborhoods impacted by drought, this legislation provides an all-hands-on-deck approach to recovery, creating and funding several programs that support rebuilding and bolster resiliency.” said Rep. Neguse. “Notably, we’ve also secured the passage of several measures that will make drastic improvements to firefighter pay and improve retention rates for the brave firefighters who sacrifice so much to protect our communities. Together, we are working to take every precaution necessary to reduce the threat of any future disaster.”

The Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act includes key investments and response measures to address wildfire, drought, and related issues, including disaster assistance programs and protective measures for environmental justice communities disproportionately harmed by drought, wildfire, and other climate events.

Climate change, a century of fire suppression, and a growing number of people living and recreating within the wildland urban interface have all contributed to the reality of wildfires as a year-round threat. The Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act includes policies and resources to support a 10-Year National Wildfire Plan to meaningfully address wildfire risk and provide for the protection and conservation of our national forests and public lands, including support for our federal wildland firefighters and land managers.

Climate change is also making droughts more severe and persistent, with parts of the western United States experiencing their driest conditions in over 1,200 years. The Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act delivers drought relief for communities in several ways, including investments in water recycling and modern desalination; projects to deliver reliable water access across Indian Country; support for modern water data, tools, research, and technologies to enhance effective water management; ecosystem protection and restoration projects to sustain our environment during drought; and resources to protect Colorado River water supplies for 40 million people.

The Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act also includes provisions to protect and advance environmental justice for low-income communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color. The extremes of wildfire and drought exacerbate numerous environmental challenges that disproportionately harm these communities.


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