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September 22, 2020

Committee Members Request GAO Examination of the Impact of More Frequent and Severe Wildfires on Air Quality and Public Health

(Washington, DC) — Yesterday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) with Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Ami Bera (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), and Ben McAdams (D-UT) sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluate the growing impacts of increasingly frequent and severe climate change-induced wildfires on air quality and public health, including COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.

“Increasingly frequent and severe wildfires, as well as lengthening wildfire seasons, are erasing decades of air quality improvements in many areas of the country,” the Committee Members said in the letter. “These unhealthy episodes of particulate pollution are often not factored in when determining whether an area meets Federal standards for air quality. Under the Clean Air Act, wildfires can be considered “exceptional events,” allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to exclude air pollution monitoring data affected by wildfires when determining compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.