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Eshoo, Thompson Introduce Legislation to Address Public Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke

October 30th, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) and Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-05) introduced the Smoke Planning and Research Act to help state and local governments protect their communities from the public risks of wildfire smoke. The bill is the House companion to legislation introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“As fires rage across California, wildfire smoke has become a significant public health risk for communities throughout Northern California and the West Coast,” Rep. Eshoo said. “Poor air quality could remain a persistent concern in the Bay Area, and our legislation provides local governments with critical funding to mitigate the risks to public health. The communities devastated by the destructive wildfires deserve federal resources to rebuild and better respond to future natural disasters.”

“Our entire region has been hit with wildfires every year for the last five years and we know all too well the long lasting impacts smoke can have on our communities,” Rep. Thompson said. “That’s why I am proud to join with Representative Eshoo to introduce the Smoke Planning and Research Act to help researchers and experts better understand the effects of wildfire smoke on our health and to establish Federal grants to help local, state, and tribal governments better mitigate long term smoke damage. This is a smart and effective tool to have in our toolbox as we continue working to help our communities rebuild and recover.”

Background

The Smoke Planning and Research Act establishes four Centers of Excellence at colleges or universities to research the risks communities face due to wildfire smoke. It also directs the EPA to study this issue and provide grants to states, tribes, and local governments to plan and respond to wildfire smoke. These efforts can include creating shelters for at-risk populations and retrofitting schools with air filters so students can safely attend school. The Smoke Planning and Research Act is endorsed by: American Lung Society, American Thoracic Society, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Reps. Eshoo and Thompson are strong advocates for advancing solutions to address the threats posed by wildfires in California. In July, Congresswoman Eshoo introduced and Congressman Thompson cosponsored the WIRED Act, legislation to bolster wireless networks during natural disasters.

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