Gianforte Calls for More Tools to Address Wildfires, Promote Forest Management
At a congressional hearing this week on the effect of wildfires on the power sector and the environment, Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) addressed the impact of severe wildfires in Montana.
During a joint hearing before the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, Gianforte reminded lawmakers of Montana’s devastating wildfires in 2017 and emphasized the importance of active forest management to reduce the severity of wildfires.
Gianforte highlighted tools that Congress could provide to improve management of federal forests.
“We have to promote collaborative approaches that reduce the constant litigation against critical forest management projects,” Gianforte said. “We need to modernize the Endangered Species Act. We need to build on President Trump’s NEPA reforms so that we can get critical energy infrastructure built in under a decade.”
Gianforte also addressed climate change in the context of wildfires and how to best confront the issue.
“The solution to addressing climate change is unleashing American innovation,” Gianforte said, “not imposing overbearing government mandates. History bears out the successes of American innovation for confronting our challenges.”
Gianforte continued, emphasizing the environmental benefits of actively managed forests, “And while we are innovating, we have to remember that we cannot control the weather, but we can control how we manage our forests. Healthy forests sequester carbon and are more resilient to catastrophic wildfires.”
In September 2017, Gianforte cosponsored the Resilient Federal Forests Act, a comprehensive forest management reform bill. The legislation would improve the health of forests, boost wildlife habitats, create good-paying Montana jobs, and reduce the severity of wildfires. Many of the bill’s measures were included in larger, must-pass pieces of legislation and signed into law.
In May 2019, Gianforte reintroduced the Resilient Federal Forests Act with Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), a trained forester.