Readout of Newsom, Feinstein, Padilla Meeting with Defense Department Officials on Wildfire Coordination Strategies
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom and U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) met with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and senior White House officials at the White House regarding increased cooperation between the state and the Department of Defense (DoD) to better respond to wildfires.
“As the climate crisis exacerbates the ongoing threat of wildfire in California, we welcome the opportunity to work more closely with Defense officials to ensure that the federal government is providing the necessary resources to support California’s emergency response and firefighting capabilities,” said Newsom, Feinstein, and Padilla. “Close coordination between state and federal partners is key to effectively prepare for and actively combat the increasing scale of wildfires.”
The eight largest wildfires in California history have occurred since 2017. During that span, wildfire has burned 10 million acres throughout the state, killed nearly 200 people and destroyed more than 32,000 homes.
The group discussed potential executive and legislative action to better support and streamline National Guard firefighting capabilities and the continued partnership between state first responders and the National Guard. The Governor and Senators raised the need for increased access to aircraft for fire ignition detection and fire perimeter tracking. They also highlighted the need to remove the arbitrary cap on the number of excess military aircraft that DoD may transfer at no cost to FEMA or the U.S. Forest Service for firefighting efforts.
The Governor and Senators underscored the need to take urgent action to mitigate the intensifying climate impacts exacerbating wildfires in California and across the Western United States. The meeting ended with a commitment from all parties to continue the dialogue around increased coordination between California and the Department of Defense to respond to wildfires as California faces longer and more intense wildfire seasons.