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New bill would allow Arizona to use federal funds for wildfire recovery, post-fire flood mitigation

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RYAN HEINSIUS / KNAU
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A House Bill introduced this week would allow Arizona to use federal funds to recover from wildfire in ways already permitted for other types of natural disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes.

The Wildfire Response Improvement Act would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update its regulations for several grant programs aimed at better responding to the challenges of worsening wildfires in the western U.S. Current federal law favors disasters other than wildfires.

HR 8516, introduced by Arizona Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton, would allow FEMA to treat wildfires and post-fire flood mitigation on a level playing field as other natural disasters.

Wildfires and subsequent mitigation efforts don’t currently qualify for FEMA disaster relief funds. State and local governments bear the entire cost of post-fire expenses.