U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin today praised an announcement from the Department of Defense's (DOD) Defense Logistics Agency to fully and permanently restore the DOD surplus equipment programs that benefit Oklahoma counties, school districts and rural fire departments:
"The notification from the Department of Defense to fully and permanently restore the programs that provide state and local agencies with surplus vehicles and equipment is welcome news and will benefit Oklahoma counties, school districts and rural fire departments," said Inhofe. "These programs provide critical assistance to state and local agencies that rely on the used equipment to bridge the gap in their equipment needs, including trucks that are needed to help fight wildfires across the state. In July the government made the decision to reinterpret a 25-year-old agreement which would have prevented transferring the surplus equipment due to onerous emissions regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. Once notified of the initial change in the programs I began working with Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, Governor Fallin's office and state officials to help bring about a resolution that did not deprive our state of access to the needed equipment. The interim solution continued the program but inappropriately increased bureaucratic hurdles by requiring the DOD to retain the title of the equipment to be tracked and returned to the Department of Defense when no longer in use. This most recent development will restore the programs to their original operations and processes without the excessive red-tape. Both the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency were very responsive to me and my staff and I am pleased they continued to work with my office to fully and permanently restore the programs."
"Oklahoma's rural fire departments rely on military surplus equipment to help protect lives and property," said Fallin."I am pleased that the federal government reversed course on what would have been a senseless discontinuation of an important program. My thanks go out to Senator Inhofe, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese, and others who worked hard to protect access to this equipment for our firefighters."
On July 2, the DOD announced that it would suspend the programs that allowed for the transfer of federal surplus equipment to state and local agencies because the equipment did not meet current emissions regulations set by the EPA. On July 9, the DOD and EPA reached an agreement that would allow local fire and law enforcement agencies to continue receiving the equipment but would require the DOD to retain title of the equipment.
Yesterday, the DOD announced that it would fully and permanently restore the programs and allow for the state and local agencies to obtain and maintain the titles for the equipment.
Each year, Oklahoma fire departments receive and rely on $13 million to $15 million worth of surplus equipment from the DOD. The cost of the new vehicles falls between $150,000 and $200,000, but the departments are able to take these surplus vehicles and equip them for as low as $30,000.