Bloomberg Proposes ‘Fire Corps,’ Double Wildfire Spending

Ari Natter

(Bloomberg) -- Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg called for the creation of new government “Fire Protection Corps” and to double the amount of money the government spends on preventing and combating wildfires to $10 billion a year as part of a plan unveiled Thursday to address climate change.

The release comes as devastating wildfires in California, Australia and Brazil have burned millions of acres in recent years and drawn attention to the ways climate change is making the world more vulnerable to environmental disasters. The ones in Australia have killed 28 people and destroyed more than 30 million acres.

“Raging wildfires, worsening storms, and rising temperatures continue to devastate our communities, and the federal government isn’t doing anywhere near enough to address them,” Bloomberg said. “As president, I will launch a full-scale effort to fight climate change and strengthen America’s resilience.”

Bloomberg’s plan, one of several climate-related proposals from the Democratic candidate, sets a goal of reducing life and property loss from wildfires by half within four years, an amount the candidate said would save the U.S. economy as much as $12 billion annually. Bloomberg said he would direct the U.S. Forest Service to make fire resilience and carbon sequestration a top priority.

“It’s pretty comprehensive,” John Bailey, a wildfire expert Oregon State University said by phone, adding he agreed with Bloomberg’s nod to forest management -- actions that include harvesting and thinning -- in the plan. “Part of the mitigation is going to be creating more resilient landscapes.”

President Donald Trump last blamed California’s devastating wildfires in 2018 on “gross mismanagement” by the state, a focus state officials said diverted attention from the role of climate change in fueling the increasingly destructive fires as well as the fact that Trump’s own agencies are responsible for managing much of the woodland in the state.

Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

(Updates with university professor in fifth paragraph.)

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