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White House proposes cutting firefighting funds

Just when I thought that the government might have learned its lesson about emergency response and natural disasters, it reverts to its old form. Many of you may have read yesterday's post on how the White House was finally proposing an increase in spending on weather forecasting. (A move surely driven by the hurricanes of the last two years.) At that time it looked like the government may have finally learned that it needs to be prepared for natural disasters. However, they renewed their oath of short-sighted ignorance today and left much of the West dangerously exposed.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON - Trying to make up for Katrina costs, the White House has proposed eliminating a $500 million reserve fund to fight fires in heavy wildfire years. Western-state Democrats criticized the plan Monday as shortsighted and risky.

"This fund - developed on a bipartisan basis - ensured that fire fighting costs could be met," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., adding that the loss of funds might force officials to scale back fire prevention efforts as well.


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When is the government ever going to learn? For decades they were warned about pending disasters like Katrina yet they did nothing. As a result, the economic cost of Katrina in New Orleans was far greater than a new levee system would have cost. (Not to mention the priceless loss of life.) Did it come to a surprise to anyone that a city below sea-level directly on the Gulf was hit by a hurricane? I hope not. Would it come as a surprise if a major population center in the West is hit by a forest fire that could have been prevented if funds had been in place?

Not to be Nostradamus, but check out how much of the West is already seeing drought conditions:

Oct25drought.gif

Don't say that nobody warned you.


Posted by Bryan Woods | Permalink