Skip to comments.How Obama Bureaucrats Fueled Western Wildfires
Posted on 06/20/2012 5:46:41 AM PDT by Kaslin
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The smell of singed air here is inescapable. Less than 50 miles west of my neighborhood, the latest wildfire has spread across 1,100 acres. It's the fifth active blaze to erupt in our state over the past month. But ashes aren't the only things smoldering.
The Obama administration's neglect of the federal government's aerial tanker fleet raises acrid questions about its core public safety priorities. Bipartisan complaints goaded the White House into signing a Band-Aid fix last week. But it smacks more of election-year gesture politics: Too little, too late, too fake.
Ten years ago, the feds had a fleet of 44 firefighting planes. Today, the number is down to nine for the entire country. Last summer, Obama's National Forest Service canceled a key federal contract with Sacramento-based Aero Union just as last season's wildfires were raging. Aero Union had supplied eight vital air tankers to Washington's dwindling aerial firefighting fleet. Two weeks later, the company closed down, and 60 employees lost their jobs. Aero Union had been a leader in the business for a half-century.
Why were they grounded? National Forest Service bureaucrats and some media accounts cite "safety" concerns. But as California GOP Rep. Dan Lungren noted in a letter obtained by reporter Audrey Hudson of the conservative D.C. newspaper Human Events last year, a Federal Aviation Administration representative said it was a contractual/compliance matter, not safety, that doomed Aero Union's fleet.
"I am deeply troubled by the Forest Service's sudden action," Lungren warned, "particularly as California enters into the fire season. Our aerial firefighting fleet is already seriously undercapitalized." Both the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Department of Agriculture's Inspector General have been critical of the Forest Service's handling of the matter. All of this has been known to the Obama administration since it took the reins in 2009.
Nine months after Lungren's warning, the deadly High Park fire in Larimer County, Colo., claimed a grandmother's life, destroyed 189 homes and scorched nearly 60,000 acres. Arizona, New Mexico, Washington and Wyoming also have battled infernos this summer.
After months of dire red flags from a diverse group of politicians ranging from Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry and Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl to Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman, President Obama finally signed emergency legislation last week to expedite the contracting process. Obama will borrow planes from Canada and provide $24 million for new aerial tanker contracts.
But the money won't come until next year, and the dog-and-pony rescue moves will not result in any immediate relief. "It's nice, but this problem isn't fixed with a stroke of the pen," former Forest Service official and bomber pilot Tony Kern told the Denver Post this week. "You need to have the airplanes available now." Veteran wildland firefighter and blogger Bill Gabbert of WildfireToday.com adds: "The USFS should have awarded contracts for at least 20 additional air tankers, not 7."
Imagine if Obama's Forest Service had been a private company. White House eco-radicals would be rushing to place their "boots on the necks" of the bureaucrats who made the fateful decision to put an experienced aerial tanker firm out of business as wildfires raged and the available rescue fleet shrunk.
"The Obama administration is scrambling now to help ensure the Forest Service has the air assets it needs to fight the ongoing inferno," Colorado free-market environmental watchdog Sean Paige reported at MonkeyWrenchingAmerica.com last week. "But the crisis is bound to raise questions not just about whether the cancelled contract created additional weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but about what the administration has been doing over the past three summers to shore-up the service's air fleet."
Where there's smoke swirling over Team Obama there are usually flames of incompetence, cronyism and ideological zealotry at the source. The ultimate rescue mission? Evacuating Obama's wrecking crew from the White House permanently. November can't come soon enough.
A little ddt would have saved all this...
Doing what Obama promised he would do,
"Fundamentally Change America".
You don’t suppose money for the failed Solyndra and other equally failed Green ventures might be part of the cause? Or is this just another misstep in the ‘Obama’ husbandry for America....a country he distrusts.
He’s willing to let states full of whites and Latinos burn to the turf. If this were Atlanta or New Orleans Federal troops would be handing out EBT cards and pizzas.
In Bastrop,TX last Sept. 4-5, 1649 homes burned to the ground. There was no one on duty that weekend before Labor Day except for a few volunteer fire fighters, who had to run for their lives as the wind-driven flames set the pine forest aflame.
When the National Forest Service finally arrived on the scene some five days later, their biggest concern was whether neighboring fire departments that had come to help had the necessary certification to fight the fire. Most were sent home....but this is Texas, and they were smart enough to go to the small towns around Bastrop to help battle the flames there.
Government stinks in an emergency. Never depend on the feds to do anything but claim credit after others have done the work.
yea - that sounds good but where was the Bush admin in trying to reform the forest service or BLM? I hear vague stuff from Romney, but what they should be talking about is having Ron Johnson and 20 Tea Party congresmen looking a how agencies work and makeing changes. The sugar cane vote shows me that even the TEa Party folks can be bought by the pubbie leadership.
It’s not just fire suppression but fire prevention that needs an overhaul. Fire is part of the natural ecosystem, but in lieu of fires, the forest must be managed so that a vast undergrowth of small pines and dead trees is not allowed to develop. Logging of bigger trees and removing/burning slash in winter prevented fires and provided jobs and income for local residents, and opened up meadows (”parks”) for grazing animals, both domestic and native.
In the past few decades enviro-radicals have stopped logging and associated road building that allowed clearing of the forest. The result is thick dense underbrush that in times of drought provides a ready supply of fuel for fires. Until forest management returns to a balanced approach, these wildfires will continue burning the very species and habitat that the environmentalists want to protect.
Why don’t they just activate the Air National Guard C-130’s if there is a shortage?
I can’t seem to find out when they were last used...
You must have missed that shortly after
President became POTUS he wanted a bill passed that would allow to clean up all the underbrush. It was denied
The first thing to remember is that the eco-freaks in the Forest Service et al think that forest fires are great. The are “natural” don’t ycha know. Harvesting timber, etc., is bad “not natural” Given the choice, the enviro wackos will always let the fires burn. Think Yellowstone.