Campaign 2010

Mar 25, 2009

Will Representative Brown Back the FLAME Act?

Representative Henry Brown's penchant for starting fires and disdain for penalties for torching national forests leads us to wonder ....will he support the FLAME Act tomorrow?

 

Representative Brown sparked controversy when he pressured the Forest Service to drop a $5,773 fine for a fire that began on his property and incinerated 20 acres of the Francis Marion National Forest in 2004.

 

"Will Representative Brown put his tree-torching, fine-fighting days behind him and vote to protect our national forests from such negligent behavior in the future?," said Jessica Santillo, Southern Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

 

The South Carolina Congressman was found negligent in the incident.  After failing at first to get the fine waved, Representative Brown fought to retroactively change a law that made it an automatic offense if a fire spread from private property to a national forest.

 

H.R. 1404, the FLAME Act is aimed at improving wildland fire suppression.

 

Background:

 

  • In 2004, Representative Brown was involved in a fire that started on his property and burned 20 acres of the Francis Marion National Forest.  [Associated Press, 10/15/08]

 

  • Representative Brown was found negligent and fined.  [Washington Post, 6/04/08]

 

  • Last year, the Forest Service sent a letter to Brown demanding he pay $5,773 in fines to cover the fire. Brown had already paid a $250 criminal fine but had contested the other fine for years. [PEER press release, 6/04/08]

 

  • However, a day later, the letter was recalled by Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, according to documents obtained by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. [Environment and Energy Daily, 9/19/08]  "I'd just as soon have him not take a chunk of hide out of me," Rey said in an interview when asked why he recalled the letter. [Miami Herald, 9/18/08]

 

  • Representative Henry Brown successfully fought to change a law that said it was an automatic offense if a fire spread from a private property to a national forest. [Associated Press, 10/15/08]

 

  • On Thursday, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1404, the FLAME Act, which would create a federal fund designated solely for catastrophic, emergency wildland fires - as declared by the Secretary of Agriculture or the Secretary of the Interior, based on the size, severity, and threat of the individual wildland fire incident. 

 

 

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