President Biden said Friday that worsening wildfires in the West demand “urgent action,” as he told seven governors that passage of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure package would provide more resources for firefighting and combating climate change.
“We can’t ignore how the overlapping and intertwined factors — extreme heat, prolonged drought and supercharged wildfire conditions — are affecting the country,” Mr. Biden said during a virtual meeting. “And so this is a challenge that demands our urgent, urgent action.”
Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Govs. Greg Gianforte of Montana, Jay Inslee of Washington, Gavin Newsom of California, Brad Little of Idaho, Kate Brown of Oregon, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Mark Gordon of Wyoming.
Mr. Inslee, a Democrat, said the only way to save western forests over the next century is to follow Mr. Biden’s “vision” to combat climate change, including passage of a $3.5 trillion package of Democratic priorities.
Senate Democrats plan to force through the $3.5 trillion bill through a budget procedure called reconciliation, which allows some spending and tax bills to avoid the 60-vote threshold most legislation must clear to survive and instead pass with a simple 51-vote majority. In this case, it would be able to pass with only Democratic votes.
Mr. Inslee called for Congress to approve the Democratic bill for “a clean energy standard, for a huge transition to the electrification of our transportation fleet, for a civilian climate corps.”
He told the president, “I want to tell you we are going to be with you as you stand tall while you negotiate this reconciliation bill to say ‘look, we have to have those climate investments there is only one way to save these forests from the ravages of climate.’”
But Mr. Gianforte, a Republican, said Montana needs better federal forest management. The state is battling 19 wildfires.
“We have many forests in Montana that have not had good stewardship,” Mr. Gianforte told the president, citing a federal forest in the state with 90% dead trees from pine beetles.