Westerman: Bill is “Common Sense Piece of Legislation That Will Reduce the Risk of Wildfires”

June 21, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) spoke in favor of H.R. 1873, the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act on Wednesday (June 21). Westerman – an original co-sponsor of the legislation along with primary sponsor Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Reps. Tom O Halleran (D-AZ), Jim Costa (D-CA), Liz Cheney (R-WY), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) – said the bill was “common sense” and would reduce the risk of wildfires on federal land (text as delivered):

“I thank the gentleman from Florida and Mr. Speaker, I rise today in favor of H.R. 1873, the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act and I thank Mr. LaMalfa for his leadership on this issue. I would also like to commend the bipartisan support for this bill and associate my remarks with the gentleman from California, Mr. Costa, and the gentleman from Oregon, Mr. Schrader.

“This bill is a common sense piece of legislation that will reduce the risk of wildfires and improve the safety and reliability of our electrical grid. How will this bill accomplish these objectives? It’s really quite simple. When we remove overgrown vegetation near our electric grid on federal lands, we remove the fuel component of wildfires. By reducing the risk of wildfire, we reduce the risk of an interruption of our electrical grid.

“Mr. Speaker, this is so much just plain common sense. It doesn’t make sense to me that we have to debate it on the floor of the House of Representatives. But I think it is an example of how misguided some of our land management agencies have become and the need for broader reforms. This  bill would streamline the federal review process for removal of trees and vegetation that pose a risk to our power grid and promotes consistency among federal agencies tasked with the decisions on removal.

“If we want to move toward better protection of our forests on federal lands and the electrical grid that moves through these locations, it’s obvious that we should pass H.R. 1873.

“Mr. Speaker, I yield back.”

On Tuesday, Westerman re-introduced the H.R. 2936, Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017. The bill would provide protection to the national forest system by implementing proactive management standards intended to lessen the threat of wildfires and other risks.

H.R. 1873 passed the House with a vote of 300-118.