Congressman Neguse Leads Bipartisan Letter Supporting Federal Disaster Declaration for Western Drought
Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, led 32 of his colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to President Biden in support of Western Governors’ recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) drought disaster declaration request. The letter highlights record drought conditions across the American West and emphasizes the need for disaster response resources in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
“This drought could have long-term impacts on the food supply, wildlife, and livelihood of Americans in the West as these conditions persist,” wrote Congressman Neguse and his colleagues. “The Governors of these Western states have stated that they do not have the resources necessary to face this crisis without additional investment and support from the federal government. Given the scale and scope of this problem, we request an expeditious approval of this request.”
Governors of 10 Western states submitted a disaster declaration request to President Biden on August 16th. In addition to seeking a FEMA declaration, the governors asked that the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior explore opportunities to support farmers and the livestock industry, as farmers in their states have suffered tremendously due to the drought conditions.
Drought conditions across the West have reached historic levels, with 99% of the West in a declared drought compared to only 63% last year. This month, the Colorado River, which supports much of the American Southwest, experienced its first ever water shortage declaration. By declaring a FEMA drought disaster, states will be able to access federal resources beyond what is currently available through existing emergency programs.
Read the full letter HERE and below:
August 25, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Administrator Deanne Criswell
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20024
Dear Mr. President and Administrator Criswell,
We write in strong support of the Major Disaster declaration request made by the Governors of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Washington requesting a federal disaster declaration for the drought in these states. Federal resources are needed to address these conditions and support our Western communities.
The Western United States is experiencing record-setting temperatures, coupled with historic dry conditions and devastating wildfires. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts that these conditions and high temperatures could last until November of this year across most Western states. The Bureau of Reclamation also recently declared a water shortage in the Colorado River Basin for the first time ever as a result of the drought, an alarming indication of the severity of this crisis.
There is little to no livestock feed available in the West, farmers are considering selling their livestock or land, and many species of wildlife are suffering from wildfires and lack of water. This drought could have long-term impacts on the food supply, wildlife, and livelihood of Americans in the West as these conditions persist.
The Governors of these Western states have stated that they do not have the resources necessary to face this crisis without additional investment and support from the federal government. Given the scale and scope of this problem, we request an expeditious approval of this request.
Thank you for your support and consideration, and we look forward to working with you.
Member of Congress
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