In Senate Speeches Tester, Daines Bring Attention To Montana Fires

by MTPR, Eric Whitney

On the Senate floor Wednesday, both of Montana’s senators gave 10-minute speeches about wildfires in Montana.

“Climate change is real, and we can’t continue to sit on the sidelines,” Democratic Senator Jon Tester said.

Republican Senator Steve Daines focused on, “The mis-management of our federal forests, and these radical environmentalists.”

Both Daines and Tester talked about Montana’s fires in the context of the nation’s attention being primarily on hurricanes at the moment.

“I will tell you I’m all for sending help to those folks,” Tester said. “I will be making sure that the folks in this body understand that we also have to get resources to folks along the northern tier, especially Montana.”

“Our crisis in Montana isn’t water, it’s not too much water, it’s not hurricanes, it’s fire,” Daines said.

Senator Tester advocated for changes to America’s policies on climate change, in the name of long-term money savings.

“Since Hurricane Sandy back in 2012, not that long ago, we’ve spent more than $100 billion in supplemental disaster relief,” Tester said. “That’s $100 billion in addition to what Congress has budgeted for disaster relief. That’s $100 billion that we could be spending serving our veterans, or improving our schools, or improving our bridges and roads, or paying down this nation’s debt. But as our climate changes before our eyes, Congress continues to bury it’s head in the sand. We are left mortgaging our childrens’ future to pay for disaster relief today.”

Senator Daines said he wants policy reform on forest management:

“We need our colleagues to come to the table, because we need comprehensive forest management reform. How many more thousands of acres in Montana and all over the west must burn before we act? Tying the hands of the state, tying the hands of the local communities, tying the hands of the people of Montana who best know how to manage these lands has not served us well. We need to change course. I will work with anyone of any party, and at all levels of our government to ensure that forests are managed in a way that reduces the severity of wildfires, because Montanans deserve it. Montanans are tired of seeing and breathing smoke.”

Montana’s Congressman Greg Gianforte also issued a statement Wednesday, saying, in part, “Our hearts go out to the people of Houston and to all affected by Hurricane Harvey … The people of Montana also face a massive disaster … and I encourage them to reach out to my office for help with federal agencies as we face this disaster together.”