Washington, D.C. – EPA regulations are helping to keep forest fires burning and polluting the air, according to U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., who joined Arizona Senator John McCain and a group of bipartisan senators in asking the Department of Defense to ditch the red tape.
The Wyoming senators said states need every resource they can get to fight forest fires, but the Department of Defense (DoD) recently halted transference of old equipment to state forestry managers because of confusion over current EPA emission standards.
Different departments under the DoD announced last week that they were unable to transfer trucks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service for loan to state forestry organizations. Every year, the DoD supplies local firefighting agencies with over $150 million in excess federal equipment like trucks, pumps, generators, and engine parts.
“We see no justification for government red-tape to stand in the way of helping first responders get the equipment they need to respond to wildland fires, floods, and other natural disasters,” the senators wrote. “While we understand that DoD and EPA may be close to resolving this issue, we respectfully request that you provide us with your specific course of action for rescinding the restrictions…”
State Foresters across the country, including Wyoming’s State Forester Bill Crapser, rely on the Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) and the Firefighter Property Program (FPP) to increase their ability to respond to wildfires and ultimately save lives and protect property.
“The equipment that we receive, re-manufacture, and deploy to the counties for wildland fire suppression through these programs, is a vital part of our fire management efforts,” said Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser. “In Wyoming over 40% of all wildland firefighting equipment is either FEPP or FPP. The partnership between the federal government, the states, and the counties in providing safe, cost effective equipment for battling wildfires, is truly an example of success in government. It would be a shame to see that change."
A bipartisan group of 25 senators signed the letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
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