In light of a record-breaking heatwave choking off much of the Pacific Northwest and a drought-fueled wildfire season in New Mexico, Arizona and California that is already well underway, President Biden will attend a virtual meeting with leaders on Wednesday Western states are participating to discuss strategies to minimize weather-related disasters this summer.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday that the president plans to bring together members of his cabinet and governors of the West to assess “the devastating crossroads of drought, heat and forest fires” and “prevention and preparedness” and response efforts for this forest fire season. “
The governors of California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming are expected. With Seattle temperatures soaring in the triple digits in the past three days, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said Tuesday that he would join as well, according to news reports.
The breathtaking temperatures this week in the west have heightened alarms about the punishing drought conditions that have already gripped the region.
California, which had its worst wildfire season on record last year, is preparing for another summer of devastating fires, with mountain snowpack and reservoirs near record lows.
Last year’s fires resulted in blackouts and forced evacuations across the region, displacing many people and leaving them without electricity. The current heat wave on Monday left tens of thousands without power in Idaho, Oregon, California and Nevada.
Last week, Mr. Biden met with Deanne Criswell, the FEMA Administrator, to weigh the federal government’s willingness to deal with extreme weather. He promised to raise wages for federal fire fighters.
“I didn’t notice, I have to admit – that federal fire fighters get $ 13 an hour,” he said at the meeting. “That will end in my government – that is a ridiculously low salary for the Federal Fire Brigade.”