Legal battle raging over how US Forest Service fights large wildfires with retardant

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Friday, March 31, 2023
Legal battle over Forest Service fighting wildfires with retardant
A lawsuit aiming to ban the US Forest Service from using aerial retardants is receiving pushback from Congress and several areas in California hardest hit by wildfires.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Fire retardant is one of the most reliable weapons for snuffing out large wildfires, but it's also a dangerous pollutant.

A lawsuit aims to ban the US Forestry Service from using aerial retardants.

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The Forestry Service doesn't have the necessary permit, and the lawsuit says under the Clean Water Act it's illegal to drop pollutants into US waters without it.

Lawmakers in Washington are now coming to the defense of the Forestry Service.

A measure is making its way through Congress that would exempt firefighting agencies from needing that permit.

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CAL FIRE says $2.8 billion allocated to wildfire prevention helped their department jump on fire quicker and with more resources this fire season.

"The Forest Service would lose one of the primary tactics that it has as a tool for wildfire suppression," Matt Dias, CEO of the California Forestry Association said.

The town of Paradise and Butte County have filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the Forestry Service.

Paradise and Butte County had large amounts of retardant dropped in 2018 in an effort to put out the massive Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history.

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