Tester warns of global warming consequences

Senator says climate change largely to blame for Montana’s devastating wildfires

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – As wildfires continue to smolder in Big Sky Country, Senator Jon Tester is warning the federal government to get a handle on global warming now or else wildfires will only continue to get worse in the future.

During a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week in Washington, Tester grilled scientists and Forest Service officials about climate change and its role in worsening wildfire conditions across the country.

At the hearing, the experts echoed something Tester heard firsthand on Montana's fire lines—it's obvious climate change is making wildfire season worse every year.

"I've listened to the folks with boots on the ground," said Tester, who toured numerous wildfires across Montana over the last several weeks.  "It's no secret they're working longer and harder to put out blazes that get bigger and more dangerous every year."

So far this year, fire has burned some 800,000 acres of public and private land in Montana.  The State of Montana spent over $40 million dollars in suppression costs this year alone.

"It's time to start doing more from a policy standpoint to be proactive when fire season rolls around.  We do that by cracking down on global warming," Tester said.  "Make no mistake, fire is a natural part of the ecosystem, but these fires are burning unnaturally, threatening communities, burning homes and scorching our federal and state budgets."

That's why, Tester added, it's important to invest in research and new technology to put the brakes on climate change now.

"The cost of doing nothing is far greater," Tester said.