The U.S. used to have a fairly large firefighting air force at its disposal. A total of at least 44 planes available 8 years ago. The fleet has been diminishing ever since. Today we’re down to 9. Last year, in the middle of the fire season, while Rick Perry was still campaigning, the Forest Service simply terminated a contract with a company called Aero Union. Aero Union had operated 6 Lockheed P-3 Orions, and was preparing to add a seventh to the fleet when the contract was canceled.
And of course, the lies began:
The Forest Service stated that it was a safety issue. “Our main priority is protecting and saving lives, and we can’t in good conscience maintain an aviation contract where we feel lives may be put at risk due to inadequate safety practices,” said Tom Harbour, director of the Forest Services fire and aviation management program.
But the FAA had an entirely different view:
“The [Federal Aviation Administration] representative stated that the disrupted contract issues which led to the grounding of Aero Union’s entire fleet do not relate to the suitability of these aircraft to perform for the remainder of this fire season,” [California GOP Rep. Dan] Lungren said in the Aug. 15 letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose agency oversees the Forest Service.
The White House says President Barack Obama will tour the scene of devastating wildfires in Colorado on Friday, and thank firefighters battling some of the worst fires to hit the American West in decades.
Makes you sort of want to rush out and vote for the guy, doesn’t it?