Environment Subcommittee Examined Government Preparedness and Response to Wildfires

Aug 22, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (August 22, 2019)—Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, and Rep. Katie Hill, the Vice Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, held a field hearing entitled “Courage Under Fire: Examining Government Preparedness and Response to Wildfires in California”, focused on government accountability and the environmental and health impact of wildfires in California.

TAKEAWAYS

  • This hearing examined the status of recovery efforts from the 2017 and 2018 California wildfire seasons as well as the state and federal government’s preparation and response to the 2019 California wildfires. 
  • Witnesses representing local, state, and federal government spoke about wildfire mitigation strategies and examined  the health and environmental impacts of longer, more destructive wildfire seasons.
  • Mark Ghilarducci, the Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, shared five key recommendations on disaster preparedness and response, including increasing speed of approval for mitigation projects and eliminating state/territorial government cost share.  
  • Robert Fenton, FEMA’s Region 9 Administrator acknowledged the challenges faced by FEMA with debris removal during the 2017 wildfire season, as also found by GAO, and reported on steps FEMA is taking to resolve the issues for future wildfires.

WITNESSES

Panel One

Robert Fenton
Region IX Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency

Randy Moore
Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region
USDA Forest Service

Mark Ghilarducci
Director
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

Dan Johnson
Southern Region Chief
California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

Panel Two

Max Moritz, Ph.D.
Cooperative Extension Wildfire Specialist
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
University of California, Santa Barbara

Afif El-Hasan, M.D.
Pediatrician
Kaiser Permanente, California

Brent Berkompas
Director of Governmental Affairs
Orange County Professional Firefighter Association

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116th Congress