Lawmakers Eyeing Energy Conference for Fire Borrowing Solution
Aim to increase funding for the Forest Service

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says sufficiently funding the U.S. Forest Service is one of his top priorities as a member of the energy bill conference committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With the Senate voting this week to conference with the House on its energy policy overhaul bill, lawmakers from both chambers are eyeing the conference process as a perfect opportunity to get in place what many say is a needed revamp of how the federal government budgets for its efforts to prevent and fight forest fires.  

The House's legislative package for its energy bill (HR 8) includes measures it passed in 2015 that would ease environmental restrictions related to federal and tribal forest thinning efforts. The Obama administration said it "strongly opposes" the bill (HR 2647) in a statement of administration policy. But some lawmakers say the measure could become less toxic if it included an alternative to a Forest Service practice called “fire borrowing.”  

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