Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) led a bipartisan coalition of senators representing western states in a letter Tuesday calling for federal action on jet fuel shortages, which they said are hampering aerial fighting of wildfires.
Wyden and seven other senators asked the White House for information on efforts to address jet fuel shortages. Their inquiries include how the executive branch would respond in a scenario where fuel runs short amid multiple wildfires in multiple states and what the procedures are for ensuring contractors and other entities have access to fuel.
In addition to Wyden, the letter was signed by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
“In 2021, there are already over 108 large fires burning in 15 states and the need for an aerial response to fight these fires is a critical and much-needed tool," the senators wrote. "We are concerned that fuel shortages could lead to the grounding of federal, state, and contracted aircrafts and hurt the ability for initial fire attack and further devastate communities near the growing number of wildfires."
The states represented by signers of the letter have 63 large wildfires burning, according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center.
Wyden has separately pressed the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the availability of wildfire resources at the local level, and in June praised the Biden administration for responding to his requests for a comprehensive fire response plan.