Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) have co-authored a bill, S.4431, the “Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020” which would increase wildfire risks to communities and ignore environmental laws. Opposing organizations including the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, and National Parks Conservation Association, collectively representing millions of Americans, are saying that rather than focusing on making our homes and communities safer, the bill would result in increased unregulated logging in areas far from communities.
Congress needs to directly support communities in hardening homes and creating defensible space, rather than spending hundreds of millions for increased logging efforts – which have exacerbated recent fires in the West in areas where clear-cutting and thinning operations have removed the largest, most fire-resistant trees.
S. 4431 is calling for more biomass energy production, which spews carbon dioxide and other toxic byproducts into the air by the ton. This bill completely ignores the value of forests as storehouses of carbon.
Burning forest products in biomass plants is ineffective in protecting communities and forests during wildfire, is expensive, while masquerading as clean energy, and relies on government subsidies, hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, so fewer dollars are then available for making us safer. Spending more on biomass would also take finite resources away from true clean energy sources.