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Biden, Western Governors Discuss Wildfire Response


In this Sept. 14, 2020 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about climate change and wildfires affecting western states in Wilmington, Del.

U.S. President Joe Biden is holding talks Wednesday with a group of governors from eight Western states about wildfire preparedness as much of the region deals with drought.

Biden and other administration officials are speaking from the White House with the governors joining by video.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week the meeting will “focus on how the federal government can improve wildfire preparedness and response efforts, protect public safety, and deliver assistance to our people in times of urgent need.”

Those attending include Democratic governors Gavin Newsom of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington, along with Republican governors Spencer Cox of Utah and Mark Gordon of Wyoming.

Not among the group are three other Republican governors from the region: Doug Ducey of Arizona, Brad Little of Idaho and Greg Gianforte of Montana.

Gianforte tweeted Friday that he was “disappointed to learn in news stories” that the president “didn’t offer a seat at the table to Montana and other states facing a severe wildfire season.”

The National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates the mobilization of resources to battle wildfires in the United States, has warned that many Western states are facing a greater than usual likelihood that significant wildfires will occur in the next few months.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports wide areas of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought.