It is always interesting, but never fun to watch a politician in trouble try to wiggle out by preying on what they think is the ignorance of voters.
Today, Mark Udall has a new press release up on his official site extolling the letter he recently sent to FEMA asking for bark beetle help.
He proudly notes that in 2003, he asked for the same kind of help from FEMA but that FEMA had no program to help at that time.
He is laying the groundwork for his post catastrophic Colorado forest fire position: "It isn't my fault--I asked FEMA to act and they drug their heels. Blame it on President Bush."
“In 2003, as this epidemic was starting, I wrote to the Rocky Mountain West regional office suggesting that they consider providing funds to help mitigate the impact of the beetles and the potential wildfire threats from the beetle-killed trees,” said Rep. Udall. “It seemed to me then—as it does now—that providing funds at the front-end of this disaster would be well spent as opposed to the major costs to FEMA and lives and property if we wait for the inevitable wildfires to come. I was informed that FEMA had no programs to provide such assistance. I am very encouraged that FEMA has changed their position so they can offer prevention measures. This is a very important issue for the mountain communities in
Mark Udall's problem in this matter is his own history.
He has been the willing ally of the Sierra Club. Environmentalist organizations until as late as this summer adamently opposed thinning and the road building that would facilitate the control of the insects. Udall proposed an amendment this spring that had the effect of closing roads on public lands to the public. Closed roads eventually become impassible.
It was hushed up quickly, but the victims of the Lake Tahoe fire this summer directly blamed the Sierra Club for using the courts to interfere with the thinning that would have saved their homes.
Thinning and management of the forests is the responsibility of the US Forest Service, not FEMA. FEMA can't do a thing more than the Forest Service can do until the legal stranglehold on forest management is broken. Laws and attitudes need to be changed. Forest roads must be built and maintained. Logging must be permitted. The insane march toward designating all of Colorado a wilderness area must be slowed or stopped.
Mark Udall wants to have it both ways. He wants to prevent anyone from really managing Colorado forests other than close in to areas where voters reside, but when (not if) there is a fire, he wants to lay the blame on FEMA and the administration. Nice Guy.