Obama seeks change in how U.S. pays to fight wildfires

President Barack Obama will ask Congress in his budget proposal next week to change the way it pays for the soaring costs of fighting wildfires, the White House said on Monday, noting the new approach will ensure more money goes to preventing fires. Obama met on Monday with governors from western states that have had massive fires in recent years, including Arizona, Colorado and Oregon, to discuss the approach. “Population growth near forest and range lands, past management practices and a changing climate have dramatically increased wildfire risk and the resulting cost,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. The Agriculture and Interior department currently base their fire-fighting budgets on a 10-year average of costs, which left them underfunded for 8 of the past 10 years, and forced to draw from fire prevention programs to make up the costs.

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