Udall: 'We're All in This Together;' Questions Why National Disaster Bill Left Out Colorado
Udall Pledges to Continue to Fight for Colorado Communities Burned by 2012 Wildfires
Mark Udall questioned why the U.S. House of Representatives stripped out disaster relief for Colorado as the U.S. Senate declined to consider an amendment he and Sen. Michael Bennet introduced to restore those funds and make disaster relief available. The disaster relief would have gone to communities in El Paso, Larimer, Teller and Weld counties to repair their drinking water infrastructure damaged during the 2012 wildfires. Despite this setback, however, Udall pledged to continue to fight to make Colorado and its watersheds whole.
"The threats wildfire pose persist long after the final embers are extinguished. Coloradans living in and around the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires know that the earth was burned down to bedrock. Even minor rainfalls or snow melts could potentially send tons of ash and sediment into our water supplies and destroy homes and infrastructure with mudslides and floodwaters," Udall said. "I am exceptionally disappointed that the House stripped out wildfire relief from this disaster assistance package. But the House's lack of action won't stop us. I plan to continue to find any means available to secure help for Colorado. The Colorado wildfires occurred more than six months ago — well before the Hurricane Sandy emergencies — and should not have to continue to wait to be addressed. I plan to continue to remind Washington that we are all in this together."
Udall and Bennet introduced their amendment after the U.S. House of Representatives failures this year to include Emergency Watershed Protection funds for Colorado in the disaster-relief bill and last year to pass legislation Udall and Bennet championed that included wildfire-relief assistance.
The amendment does not add a single cent to the bill and instead would have reversed the House's decision to exclude Colorado from receiving Emergency Watershed Protection Program funds. The amendment would allow some of the funds to be used for other watershed projects across the country, including repairing drinking water supplies affected by 2012 wildfires.
Last month, Udall and Bennet introduced legislation to boost resources for the EWP Program. And in November, Udall joined with Bennet and Representatives Jared Polis, Doug Lamborn and Cory Gardner to urge the president and Appropriations Committee leaders to include the EWP Program in the Hurricane Sandy disaster supplemental.
Udall and Bennet also worked last year to introduce an amendment to the U.S. House of Representatives' proposal to keep the government running for the next six months — commonly referred to as the Continuing Resolution — to secure emergency funding for the EWP Program.