Womack, Senate colleagues question EPA over possible federal funds to end Arkansas fire

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) this week joined his Republican U.S. Senate colleagues from Arkansas in requesting more information on what needs to happen to get federal funding and to continue to address air quality monitoring around a fire in their home state that has been burning since July 2018.

Rep. Womack, ranking member of the U.S. House Budget Committee, and his colleagues, U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and John Boozman (R-AR), have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the potential for federal assistance to extinguish the fire near a Trafalgar Road stump dump in the City of Bella Vista, Ark. The fire began burning underground on a public-private parcel last summer and nearby residents have had to wear protective masks.

“As we continue to learn more about the situation, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the state of Arkansas will require federal assistance to address the issue,” the lawmakers wrote in a Feb. 26 letter sent to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. 

The trio said current law “provides for a particular threshold of scientific data to trigger the EPA’s assistance on these types of environmental projects” and their goal is “to learn specifically what can be done at the federal level when the threshold is met so we can readily partner with the EPA to ensure funds and resources are swiftly dispatched to the state.”

Rep. Womack and the senators also asked the EPA to provide “any and all options” for the state to receive both federal funds and an air monitoring system that gathers continuous information over an extended period of time for reliable and up-to-date data.

Rep. Womack and his colleagues also thanked the EPA for its assistance provided thus far.

“Arkansas’s congressional delegation along with the local and state officials acknowledge and appreciate this assistance as well as the technical assistance provided by the EPA Region 6 Office in Dallas,” they wrote. “We look forward to continuing to work with EPA to help the state of Arkansas best address the Trafalgar Road fire.”