Well, he did promise the people would feel the pain of sequester and today’s press offer some strange numbers.
Daily news readers would have seen this by now.
There are some very curious things going on. So check this …..
Running out of money to fight wildfires at the peak of the season, the U.S. Forest Service is diverting $600 million from timber, recreation and other areas to fill the gap.
The nation’s top wildfire-fighting agency was down to $50 million after spending $967 million so far this year, Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers said Wednesday in an email. ……
There are 51 large uncontained fires burning across the nation, making it tough to meet demands for fire crews and equipment.
It was the sixth time the Forest Service has had to divert funds since 2002, Chambers said.
The step comes as the Obama administration has been cutting spending on thinning national forests to prevent wildfires, and despite Congress creating a special wildfire reserve fund in 2009, known as the FLAME Act. Congress dedicated $413 million to the reserve in fiscal 2010, but cut it to $290 million in 2011 and raised it to $315 million in fiscal 2012, according to Forests Service documents. This year it dropped to $299 million after sequestration.
Okay, so far so good. The drop in this fund is 5%. Which is consistent with sequester cuts. But, we’ve already blown through the FLAME money this year! And, here we see another 5% cut.
The mandatory budget cutting measure known as sequestration reduced the Forest Service budget 5 percent, forcing cuts of 500 firefighters and 50 engines.
Wildfire spending by other federal agencies takes the total to $1.2 billion so far this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. That is more than half last year’s total of $1.9 billion, and fast-approaching the 10-year average of $1.4 billion. There have been 33,000 fires that have burned more than 5,300 square miles — an area nearly the size of Connecticut.
Yes, I like how they add that drivel without context. Astute Suyts readers already know the context, which I’ll directly show. The question is why are we at $1.2 billion already? And approaching the 10 year average? Here’s a graph of the amount of fires and acreage year-to-date in comparison to the last 10 years!
To read the graph, the red line, acres, use the left axis. The blue line, amount of fires, read it on the right axis. Source.
So, we have the least amount of fires in the last ten years, ytd. And, the second least amount of acreage burnt, ytd. But, we’ve almost spent what we spend in a whole year! Why?!?!?!?!
Here’s some more interesting facts worth noting ………
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been steadily cutting spending on thinning federal forests to reduce fire danger, and has proposed to cut even further. The acreage treated would drop from 1.8 million acres thinned in 2012, to 685,000 acres next year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget.
The Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program was $500 million last year, went down to $419 million this year under the automatic budget cuts, and has been proposed to go to $292 million next year.
That’s bullshit. Those are not sequester cuts! Sequester is 5%, not 18% and definitely not 40%, as this year’s and next year’s cuts will be.
Lastly, I would remind readers of another post I did last year.
This is in reference to the administration decimating our firefighting air force. And, the Forest Service lying about why they terminated a contract with Aero Union. This year, I’ve heard nothing of this issue and whether or not the administration followed through with their promises.
Regardless, this feels all to deliberate. But, deliberate or not, there’s something very wrong with our spending if we’re at such lows in fires and acreage for the last ten years, but, we’ve almost spent what we typically do for a whole year!
If this was a ploy to ‘make the people feel the pain of sequestration’, or something more cynical, like colluding with the EPA for Obama’s climate initiative, then someone needs to go to prison. We’ve lost people and a team of brave fire fighters, not to mention the property. We’re only going to clear less than 700,000 acres next year? Reducing the spending by 40%? No one told them to do that.
At the very best this is gross incompetence and depraved indifference. At the worst, this is a horrible crime.