Oregon’s entire congressional delegation is urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assume 100 percent of the cost share for debris removal and emergency protective measures from the wildfires that ripped through the state this year.

A letter from Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and House members Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, Suzanne Bonamici, and Kurt Schrader said “…wildfires have utterly decimated communities across Oregon”. The letter said Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Emergency Management predict that the total disaster costs will ultimately total more than $1 billion. The lawmakers said that is “…a burden the state will be unable to shoulder in light of ongoing pandemic-related responses”.

The letter noted that the damage assessment from this year’s fire season in Oregon now exceeds the regulatory threshold for FEMA to support an increased federal cost share from 75 percent to 100 percent. The lawmakers said the agency has regularly increased its cost share in past disasters.

They said FEMA has authorized 90 percent cost share in more than 20 disasters since January of 2017, and 100 percent cost share in 22 disasters in the same time period. Their letter said the administration recently amended the Major Disaster Declaration for California to authorize 100 percent cost share for debris removal and emergency protective measures.