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Montana Senator Grills Forest Service on Heavy Tankers

by Chris Sorensen |

Montana Senator Conrad Burns(R) grilled the Forest Service Wednesday about getting heavy air tankers back in service. Quoting Senator Burns, "I know what bureaucratic runaround is, What I don't want is some faceless little person with their eyes too close together who is speaking in tongues to give us the runaround and then we won't get the planes off the ground and put the fires out."

Burns asked Agriculture Department Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey how quickly his agency could get the tankers back in the air.

"The best answer we can give is the longest and the shortest, "The longest answer is never. Some of this aircraft may never get off the ground again. With other aircraft, if companies can turn around the information quickly we can have that happen in 30 days."

Rey's comment that some planes could be back up in the air in 30 days prompted a gasp from a group of agency engineers sitting behind.