Congressman Joe Neguse urges Biden to issue federal disaster declaration

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Will Thelander, a partner in his family’s farming business, looks into a dry irrigation canal on his property, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Casa Grande, Ariz. The Colorado River has been a go-to source of water for cities, tribes and farmers in the U.S. West for decades. But climate change, drought and increased demand are taking a toll. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to declare the first-ever mandatory cuts from the river for 2022. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

WASHINGTON – Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, wrote a letter alongside 32 of his colleagues urging the Biden administration to support the western governors’ recent Federal Emergency Management Agency drought disaster declaration request issued on Monday, Aug. 16.

The governors’ also requested support specifically tailored for farmers and the livestock industry, an aspect of Western living that has been significantly impacted by the drought.

Nearly 100% of the American West is in a drought as compared with 63% last year. Earlier in August of 2021, the Colorado River was declared to have its first-ever water shortage declaration.

The letter highlights record drought conditions across the West from the following states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Mr. President and Administrator Criswell,  

We write in strong support of the Major Disaster declaration request made by the Governors of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Washington requesting a federal disaster declaration for the drought in these states. Federal resources are needed to address these conditions and support our Western communities.  

The Western United States is experiencing record-setting temperatures, coupled with historic dry conditions and devastating wildfires. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts that these conditions and high temperatures could last until November of this year across most Western states. The Bureau of Reclamation also recently declared a water shortage in the Colorado River Basin for the first time ever as a result of the drought, an alarming indication of the severity of this crisis.   

There is little to no livestock feed available in the West, farmers are considering selling their livestock or land, and many species of wildlife are suffering from wildfires and lack of water. This drought could have long-term impacts on the food supply, wildlife, and livelihood of Americans in the West as these conditions persist.  

The Governors of these Western states have stated that they do not have the resources necessary to face this crisis without additional investment and support from the federal government. Given the scale and scope of this problem, we request an expeditious approval of this request.  

Thank you for your support and consideration, and we look forward to working with you.  

Sincerely, 

Joe Neguse 

Member of Congress

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