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tv   Washington Journal Senator Steve Daines Discusses Reforming Forest...  CSPAN  September 20, 2017 3:36pm-4:05pm EDT

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is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. in just under half an hour, ruth gator bins -- ruth their ginsburg will be speaking to first year law student said georgetown university law school. that is scheduled at 4:00 p.m. eastern. we will have it live here on see stern -- we will have it here on c-span. until then, a conversation from this morning's washington journal. inues. host: joining us is steve of montana.blican a senator who serves that state s here to talk about forest management and forest fire issues. report give us status where wildfires are in montana? guest: we've had one of the necessary season montana in memory. a report this morning said the cost during this fire season set all-time record north of $2 billion. left for the august recess that first week of
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august, i am on the energy and resources committee, the top 30 fires in the nation were all in montana. a million acres this fire season, equivalent to delaware, state of tragically two firefighter necessary montana lost their the fire lines. it's been devastateing and of breathing ed the smoke. the environmental disaster we have with the smoke, the carbon air, destroys watersheds, destroys wildlife, so it has season for us, tell you montana says, enough is enough. is : how much of a season still left to go? guest: thankfully and this is what happens, you wait for the to change. it was unusual year, we had adequate snow packed levels in winter, good spring rains in the western part of the state. northeastern part of the state was very dry. july, august june, and high temperatures. that was the recipe for really
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severe fire season. week, the weather turned. we've seen rain, snow in the country and looks like we're turning the corner now, we season-ended event, more snow forecast for the high country this week, more rain and we've turned the corner on it. host: you said $2 billion fires, does the federal government provide money for that? guest: here is the problem we the forest ow in service. this is something i'm working perdue who ry oversees the forest service, the orest service has to fire borrow, once they hit their limits on the budget, they have dollars.w take dollars away from projects that would have been spent forests to prevent risk of wildfire, instead redirect funds to fight the fires. we're working some legislation ight now as we speak on the hill to change the way that the wildfi mechanisms for
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wildfires, forest service and forest management perform. ost: what changes are you advocate something guest: couple things. number one, i was on the phone with nick mulva ney, with where we want to go with this. we want to allow forest service budget. the imagine uncertainty of the fire set money e you to aside, not knowing if you would have a big season or not. taking large at fires and treat them like a natural disaster, like a or tornado. think about it, most wildfires strikes,ed by lightning an act of god, not unlike ornado or hurricane, that just makes sense. importantly and probably the most important point, we need to way we manage our forests. a managed forest is healthier forest. policy changes weed make to streamline approval processes
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o get good solid timber projects approved and managing forests again. litigation relief. montanans ajority of want to see timber management, good for jobs, economy, good for the environment. we have extreme environmental groups that tend to litigate needs to cts and that be addressed. host: our guest is with us until to talk about forest fires. if you want to ask questions, ask 48-8000 for eastern central time zone. 202-748-8001 for the mountain and pacific time zones. live in a state that has wildfires primarily, 202-748-8002. you can tell about your state's experience. forest ou manage a enough with fuel that is there to maybe lessen the effect of fires? guest: that is the point, it will never eliminate wildfires. reduce the frequency and severity of wildfires.
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he forest is a living, breathing, active ecosystem modern ng more fuel w. timber practice, we can go and thin the forests. gone are the days of clear cutting, back decades ago. this is about thinning a forest, loads.g fuel the challenge we face with wildlife, for example, rocky foundation, great wildlife conservation group, what they are seeing right now, forests get too thick, too much dead and dying timber creates the floor inability for the sun to shine, create grass for feed for the the areas.eave so by thinning the forest, we reduce wildlife habitat, risk of wildfires and something else that will happen, they burn they will sterilize the ground. hen springtime comes, we have runoff, snow, rains, it then reates tremendous erosion, destroying watersheds and fisheries, not to mention smoke,
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carbon in the air. i was chatting with a teacher this morning, a second grade teacher from montana, having with her. she told me the kids have to be inside for recess because the so quality becomes hazardous, the kids don't go out for recess, that has to change. a kid growing up in montan awe had 30 active saw montan atoday we have eight. huge demand for lumber. and he irma, what you are seeing is huge requirements, go to more lumber to stricken areas. we can't get enough logs, enough logs 't get to keep the saw mills running three shifts per day that, is outrageous. mentioned the hurricanes, do you think enough attention has been paid to the are seeing as we with the current hurricanes and even with mariah? harvey, irma, mariah, ose, the focus, and understandably, devastating to
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but what f americans, has been lost, we've had evastating wildfires up in the rockies and out west and that is why i'm grateful to be able to get the message out that we've the way we manage our forests and the way we fund our forest fire funding. i want to show viewers, if i can -- host: show this. go ahead. guest: what we have here, cupick camera, is a -- what happens if you manage a orthaeft one diameter is 11-year-old tree. the other side is 76-year-old diameter tree, one from managed forest, one rom unmanaged forest, same diameter 11 years or 76 years, shows contrast of what happened healthy, vibrant forest and not only healthier trees, you forested county in montana depend on revenue coming resource, like natural national forsxeft
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the ut those revenues, federal government doesn't pay taxes. so it has been said in western poverty with a mountainside, l beautiful forests, we can't even get in to thin them because of fringe environmental extreme groups stopping it. host: again, the lines, eastern and for the central time zone. mountain and pacific, 202-748-8001. a wildfire state resident, 202-748-8002. we'll start with jim, great fall, montana, go ahead. aller: good morning, senator daines, i'm in great falls. will you comment about forest management? we are tired of all the smoke in great falls and throughout our state. the litigation? we want to go in and harvest the trees, it seems like we battle lawsuit? guest: yeah, jim, thanks for the question. million acres of dead, dying, diseased trees
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identified in montana alone. we've only been able to harvest manage about 50,000 acres per year and one of the barriers to that is the review process it takes just bureaucratic projects in the field. regarding litigation, there is did not roups, represent vast majority of montanans who step in at the moment and stop the projects. e will have great collaboratives that work together, folks from the timber groups, , conservation they work together, local community to get projects moving forward and then there are groups that are not part of the collaborative process that sit they are well s, funded, deep pockets and they sue and stop the projects. what do we need to do? couple things. one, looking for litigation projects to ve arbitration type process versus
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litigation. think common i sense step in the right direction. wo, realize the taxpayer oftentimes will be funding some lawsuits with equal access to justice act. needs to be revised and not allow some of the i would call serial litigants, ambulance chasers of the forest is what they are. suffer are the hard-working folks in montana and those who live in areas wildfires and jim, summer, it this last is just tragic. asthma, being had affected, children not going outside for recess, can't see have in iful views we montana. montanans are tired of it, enough is enough. the issue of ress litigation if we're going to urn the corner on forest management. host: corpus christi, texas, daniel up next. you to i didn't expect talk about the law. i once upon a time was a lawyer
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nd i can't see how those litigants are able to succeed, it seems you could counter claim them, i can't see where they have standing if you already have people representing that. my real reason for calling was something else. workers f migrant-type to help you clear some of the low, low i don't know how it can be done, immigration issue right now is very hot, but it seems like you could get a lot very low-cost labor. it is a low-tech type job to help out with that. is all i want to say, thank you. guest: let me address what is go in montana in the timber industry. generations of loggers, going back to grand parents and grandparents who made a living off the land. type of ighly skilled environment in timber management.
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look at modern day timber mills, are computerized, very high-tech anymore and to manage and in an ly environmentally sound way, it's skilled re of higher type occupation. our problem is not a shortage of cost or not having low workers doing it, our problem, e can't get loggers into the forest to harvest and thin the trees. so we, that is the barrier right now to forest management. you look at what is going on demand, i grew up in the construction business, my mom and dad are in the home building business. demand for structural timber, so forth, is very, very high, hurricanes.fter we can't get enough logs to keep the shift unning, needed in montan awe are importing logs from canada, in from logs surrounding states, which is crazy when i sit here and have at our mills, we are looking at mill workers who want
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he jobs, they want to be working to put food on the table for their families, county revenues to need fund basic government infrastructure and poverty stricken counties and the fact can't get enough logs, that is when montanans say enough is enough. what adds insult to injury, huge fires that cost $2 billion now, spending on firefighting this summer just report just morning, and we're breathing the smoke. it is environmental disaster, a is an al disaster, it economic disaster, we can do better and we must. 'm hopeful that because of the disasters we've seen, of course this summer, it will bring republicans d together to move forward truly with common sense reforms to the fund our wildfires and manage our forests. ost: here is john from kent, washington. caller: yeah. am i on? host: you're on, go ahead. caller: okay. there is many of us in the
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northwest that feel that orest service refuses to fight way t fires until they go beyond normal means. down in oregon, they had one 12 acres and they started fighting it somewhere 102,000 acres. ave you heard of global super tanker, 747-400, that has been a long time? it is used down in california this year. it there, caller. guest: i am aware of the super impressive quite an sight. i've watched the videos f the 747 dropping fire retardant on forest fires. we'll continue to work with the forest service looking at what learned from the last forest fire season. i heard similar complaints from montanans, basic common sense of fires, best to put a fire out
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when it is small. the smoke jumper there is in missoula, montana. of these brave men and women, attack small fire necessary tough areas. usually the start of the fires s lightning strike, at high altitude, difficult terrain. smoke jumper guess in on first attack. we had 1600 fire starters in montana this year, 1600. a lot of starts out there. we need to go look at where we to t have had the ability stop the fires earlier on. there is always ways to improve. concerns, ilar discussion we'll continue to have with secretary perdue and his team. it is say this, i think important for us to also recognize the incredible and the work m that has been done during the fire season. cost, complain about complain about the smoke and complain about the fires, i tell you what, i spend a lot of time fire lines with commanders, both men and women
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fighting the fires. will work tirelessly to fight fires. put innocent command teams on a fire tis like military operation, very impressive. harm's way daily, risking their lives for the sake f protecting our communities, protecting life and i want to give a shout-out to any firefighters who are perhaps watching today because we've got rain andn the snow and perhaps they are watching, thank you for what you have done. the way our xhunlt come together, federal and state enforcement,cal law xhashl guard came together to protect our communities and did fires, it of fighting was a tough season. host: from twitter, how long new trees be an plantd and how are young trees planted? underway?ing projects guest: that is a good question. on one side of the equation, we to manage t the need forests, thin forests reduce
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wildfires.d risk of when a fire burns, depending what damage and how hot that burns, we actually have the ability of the wind and salvage trees, the fire will go in and kill the tree, but not ecessarily burn it down and depending on what has happened with the fire we want to salvage the outside, but it is still salvageable. we need to be able to do that. here is the problem, we will get litigated on many projects from extreme groups. again, most montanans say, that doesn't make sense. projects here to go in and plant new trees, to get forests going. history of the burn burn n 1910, which was over three million acres, killed 86 people, that was beginnings went in and started planting new trees to get forests going. we have vibrant forests going
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again. host: one discussion that stems topic of urricane was climate change s. there argument for climate change as we see with wildfire? well, most montanans say yes, the climate is changing, no a warmer cycle. go back in history to 1910 and burn.ig that was a period where we had high temperatures, we had dry season then. in the 1930s, my ancestors, who ere homesteading near conrad, montana had to leave and go to canada because of the dust bowl. cycles of warmer temperatures, dryer conditions nd other times we'll have cooler temperatures and we'll have higher than average rainfall. change, it is te important as healthy forest is tabsorbs s carbon sink carbon. we think about climate and we hink about reducing carbon in the atmosphere, a healthy forest absorbs carbon. that is a burning forest, it releases tremendous
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amounts of carbon. in the air gets so thick that we have high voltage running in a ine county in southwest montana, ere not able to get firefighters near the high oltage line because carbon was so thick it would create arking from the air to the ground and or kill a y firefighter. so relates to carbon, healthy is way to reduce amount of carbon in the atmosphere. pasariofrshgs new mexico. caller: yes. work for local government and adjusting wild land fire issue the national wild land fire cohesive strategy has been to our efforts and lp educate people promote and address this issue. and part of it is the funding, part of it is supporting those local forest service,
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people that make decisions on using fire as a prescribed fire and a caller mentioned about the always ervice doesn't address fires, sometimes there are so many fires there is not address sources to every fire. there are also fires that happen in place necessary times of the allowed to ould be grow, i think, and i think that supported.e guest: yeah, it is always a judgment call as relates to resources and you made an excellent point, we in the height of fire season, there are more fires than we have resources to address every fire nd you have to make some decisions, quick decision to prioritize folks and what you to burn for a ow while. the risk of that, of course, turns nd every fire that into hundreds of thousands of beganor million acre fire with probably a single lightning
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strike most often, one tree hit, generate a huge fire. but prescribed burns are risk ant part of reducing of wildfire and in our national arks and wilderness areas, generally it is let it burn philosophy. natural part of the ecosystem. there is actually good fire that is used there as part of rejuvenating the ecosystem. we have, we lost the ight common sense balance not allowing us to go in and manage forests. here is what happened, you saw summer, record wildfire, environmental disaster, we need to bring this sense balanced approach which we've been able lost for generations and that with certainly some of the fringe environmental groups that ant to stop all forest management. host: maldon, massachusetts, this is ed, hello. "quit smoking challenge" ed --
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aller: ed brian, retired firefighter. i was in fort lewis, washington, reno, nevada, you are right, the smoke is a problem for residents and other people have chronic illness, i tell you, i'm wondering how come don't put a fire road in to keep the fire from jumping? 2017, going into 2018, this has been going on and on or four e last three years, devastating fire necessary your region. boston, but i just see that and i'm saying how come they don't put fire roads in. comment on that? guest: ed, thank you, thank you for your service as a firefighter. lot of time with firefighters this summer. couple things. line, re road and fire something that is pretty common practice when it comes to ighting actual fire to develop lines here to stop a fire from geographies.tain go back to extreme environmental
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groups that want to stop any forest management, including fire lines. this is a huge problem for us know, basic common sense forest management would prescribed to do burns, you do thinning, good for the environment and the economy. midst of re in the fires, they will rebuild fire lines that is a common practice in the midst of wildfires. host: couple other topics, if status of ind, the senator graham and senator cassidy bill on health care, you stand in terms of support of it? guest: yesterday vice president lunch within to have the senators and update us. resident trump and vice president pence strongly support it. it is the right thing to do. i looked at the state of really the question, and i think the fork in the road right now for the country is vision here, senator bernie sanders has, which is really the government over of our health care
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ystem, moving down the path of socialized medicine. the other fork in the road, the embraces, move the command and control of health care from washington, the states, that happened with welfare reform in that happened with welfare block granting onl these programs, with tremendous success. that has been a great case study. remember 1996, the left would say the skies falling with these reforms. well, the data proves otherwise. host: you are comfortable that a block grant system in montana ameld maintain the s level of care? game ofuld cnet hundreds of millions of debt -- we would see a net gain of
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hundreds of millions of dollars. montana would gain in that situation. but montana is very different than california or new york or florida. we have a rural health care issues in our state. so we need to have a health care delivery system and care system that is different than urban areas. that is why i like the idea of moving health care back to the states. they would be more efficient, designing these systems, rather than command-and-control in washington dc. >> is your committee and appropriate committee to have something like health care considered in? >> homeland security is also oversight, as well. that is part of the title of that committee. i think there is an oversight role, in this situation. what role should the federal government have in overseeing, leading the charge right now, for the entire health care system. it has jurisdiction and
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oversight, as part of that jurisdiction. >> mic is next from vermont. go ahead. i have listened to and 50e this morning years of my life, i spent as a logging contractor and forrester. host: mike, keep going. keep going. with everything you say. we havevermont, millions of dollars of timber and it is almost impossible to get it cut due to the bureaucracy on the national forest lands. host: thanks, color. thanks,re exact -- caller. >> you are exactly right.
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a have a northern border -- northern county that borders canada, in montana. the county seat of their, and libby, montana, they are called the libby loggers. once upon a time we had a vibrant timber industry in northwest montana. the libby loggers, when we played them in football, they started a chain saw at the beginning of every game. singlethere is not a sawmill in libby county. they would have to rename the libby loggers, the libby lawyers. he cousin is the serial litigants who are now taking over our forests. why do they had such a powerful voice right now, through the courts, to stop what we think we need to do? we want to have a balance. ultimate are the conservationists. we want to protect our lands. all want to hunt, and
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fish, and camp, and backpack, and if you lock folks out of resource management, we lose our wildlife, we lose our economies, we lose a generation of people who want to stay with the lands that they love, that they grew up on. it is truly a tragedy. this youngontana, couple looked at me and said, steve, what we had up here in northwestern montana is poverty with a view. it is beautiful country. gorgeous country. but you know what? food on the put table, you can't live there. and people are leaving. daines,nator steve republican from montana thank you for joining us today. we take you live now to georgetown university law school in washington, where first year students and others will hear from associate


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