DearColleague.us

Letter

Edward Markey

From the office of:

Edward Markey

From: The Honorable John Garamendi
Sent By: garrett.durst@mail.house.gov
Date: 9/30/2015

Dear Colleague,

I invite you to join me in cosponsoring the SAFE DRONE (Safety for Airports and Firefighters by Ensuring Drones Refrain from Obstructing Necessary Equipment) Act of 2015, which would impose criminal penalties on the operation of drones, both commercial and recreational, within two miles of an airport or active wildfire fighting operation.

Every second counts when responding to wildfire, and we must ensure that firefighting agencies can do their job in the most effective way possible. The initial attack on a wildfire is a make-or-break moment, and aerial firefighting is a key element in that initial response. But commercial and recreational drones can and do threaten the safety of firefighters in active fire areas.

In my home state of California, firefighting aircraft were recently grounded for the first twenty minutes of a fire outbreak due to a drone in the vicinity of the fire. This allowed the fire to spread rapidly, jump an interstate and burn twenty vehicles as they sat on a freeway, with some drivers barely escaping. This sort of preventable, unnecessary threat to human life and property should not happen.

Airports are also at risk from unregulated unmanned aerial vehicles. In 2015 there has been an alarming increase in the number of near-collisions between manned aircraft and drones at airports all across the nation, creating an enormous threat to public safety. This legislation will help reduce the frequency of these incidents and make the skies safer for scheduled flights.

It is likely that unmanned aerial vehicles will someday be an essential element of commercial and recreational aviation. For now, however, we have an obligation to ensure that private drone operators fly responsibly. I WILL BE INTRODUCING THIS BILL TOMORROW, OCTOBER 1. To cosponsor the SAFE DRONE Act and prevent the unsafe use of drones near airports and wildfires, please contact Garrett Durst in my office at Garrett.Durst@mail.house.gov or 202-225-1880.

Sincerely,

John Garamendi

Member of Congress