Fire Retardant Case/Legislation Update

I am trying to catch up and Nick Smith linked to this this morning; maybe someone else has a better status report?

Based on this article.. apparently the US is going to settle while being willing to “work with Congress on legislation”? I’m sure Andy knows more about the former but maybe can’t talk about it.

Inside EPA, which broke the news of the Forest Service’s decision to settle the citizen suit, is reporting that the head of the Forest Service now “is willing to work with Congress on legislation to allow the service to continue airborne sprays of firefighting chemicals” without the need for a multitude of Federal and State permits.

But apparently the Admin doesn’t support the existing House bill (I still hear, as previously reported, that it’s USDA and the FS are in one place and CEQ in another). It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

For those who want to know how my FOIAs of discussions between the Department and the White House (CEQ) on this topic are going.. far USDA is winning the FOIA race with CEQ, but have nothing in my hands yet.

2 thoughts on “Fire Retardant Case/Legislation Update”

  1. Excerpt from Greenwire today ($):

    A federal judge Friday turned away an environmental group’s request to halt aerial drops of fire retardant by the Forest Service that can pollute waterways — but agreed the agency needs a permit from EPA to keep up the practice.

    In a case brought by Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, a U.S. district judge in Montana said the discharges from aircraft in 10 Western states violate the federal Clean Water Act when the chemicals enter navigable waters and thus require permits.

    That finding handed FSEEE a legal victory, but Judge Dana Christensen denied the organization its request to block the practice, saying that would increase the risk of damaging wildfires by removing a critical tool from the Forest Service.

  2. A California specific viewpoint, there is 100% a time and place for retardant drops. Mainly as California has a WUI all over, everywhere, and fire behavior that often is best suited to a drop followed by boots on the ground.
    There are also countless examples of non-WUI fires in California where the IC chose to drop numerous drops on ridge lines with no one around, just like punching dozer lines in with no one to use them….and it looks really bad. Problem is, the ‘looks really bad’ makes it into pseudo-science reports from groups like FSEEE and FUSEE. Just like useless drops get used in science from the USFS/BLM.
    What no one has discussed so far, is the impacts of runoff and soil erosion during weather events, into fish bearing streams, resulting in fish die offs and other water quality related impacts. If that is from a natural lightning caused fire, sure, that’s nature. But if it’s a human caused fire? Which is worse, which is ok?


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