Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm convened a meeting yesterday with CEOs from the American electricity sector and senior leaders from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Federal Aviation Administration to identify opportunities to further strengthen public-private cooperation to protect our communities from the accelerating threat of devastating wildfires, which is being exacerbated by the climate crisis.
The total number of acres burned this year is 72% above the 10-year average. Homeland Security Advisor Sherwood-Randall emphasized the President's direction to rapidly improve our collective prevention, preparedness, and response capabilitiesthrough close partnerships with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments and the private sector. She also recognized that the Inflation Reduction Act, if enacted, will bolster national resilience by investing in clean energy and strengthening our grid, in response to the devastating convergence of extreme heat, drought, and wildfires that are being experienced across our Nation.
Secretary Granholm emphasized the urgent need to evolve the national approach to wildfires and highlighted numerous steps the Department of Energy is taking to address the evolving threat, including making $5 billion of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant funding available to increase grid resilience, including reducing the impacts of wildfires and extreme weather events on American communities, and bringing to bear the science and technology expertise of the DOE National Laboratory network to develop innovative capabilities for prediction, detection and fire suppression.
Utility CEOs talked about their efforts to prepare for peak wildfire season and proposed streamlining processes for enabling critical wildfire risk reduction activities, expediting the deployment of new technologies, and improving communication between government and the private sector. They also voiced their strong support for additional resources for Federal departments and agencies to enable urgently needed additional support to wildfire prevention, forest management, and frontline firefighters.