VIDEO RELEASE: Greg Walden on forest management reform: “We have to do better for air quality, for water quality, and for the future of our precious public resources”
Greg Walden on forest management reform: “We have to do better for air quality, for water quality, and for the future of our precious public resources”
Stresses the need for urgent action to prevent catastrophic wildfires, protect air quality in Oregon
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Continuing his efforts to improve federal policy to help prevent catastrophic wildfires in Oregon, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) called for action Wednesday on forest management reform. During a hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden stressed the urgent need to address the underlying issues leading to devastating fires, which pour pollutants into the atmosphere and pose a serious threat to air quality, water quality, and Oregon’s public lands.
"I want to focus on this air quality issue, especially as it relates to wood stoves and what is happening in the West. Year after year, we have catastrophic wildfires on federal lands, some of which have been set aside and managed in a way that they have no management,” said Walden. “So if you want to do something that is extraordinarily important, join us in reforming the way we manage our precious public lands and federal forests to reduce the fuel loads.”
Walden’s Energy and Commerce Committee examined the impact of burdensome regulations and policies on wood stoves in rural Oregon. Walden said overbearing regulations force rural communities in Oregon to decide between risking air quality restrictions that could prohibit economic growth, or forcing residents to purchase expensive wood stoves that meet new regulations. Communities in Oregon have spent upwards of $1.5 million to help consumers afford new stoves. Walden said these communities are trying to scrape by to heat their homes in the winter, and are inundated with smoke from devastating fires in the summer that make it difficult to breathe.
Walden also highlighted the need to pass the Resilient Federal Forests Act, marking the fifth time in five years the House is moving forward with major federal forest policy reforms. This legislation provides new tools and streamlines forest management to clean up the fuel loads that contribute to large-scale fires.
Earlier Wednesday, Walden joined U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke and his colleagues in the Congressional and Senate Western Caucus at a news conference on the pressing need for forest management reform. During the press conference, Walden noted his Energy and Commerce Committee would be further examining the air quality impacts of large-scale fires that pour pollutants into the atmosphere and choke Oregon’s skies with smoke each summer.
The full press conference was livestreamed to Facebook, which you can view here.