WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) joined Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the agency to create a pathway for air regulators to account for smoke from prescribed fires under the Clean Air Act. Prescribed fires are a proven method that help protect communities in Wyoming and throughout the west from out-of-control wildfires. These burns also help prevent heavy smoke, as a prescribed burn creates a smaller amount of smoke compared to a large wildfire.
“For decades, western states have faced smoke filled summers that harm vulnerable populations, degrade the enjoyment of the outdoors, and weaken the economic vitality of communities that support outdoor recreation industries,” the senators wrote. “Prescribed fire is a proven method to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire and the associated smoke from the mega-fires confronting our communities today. Given the significant harms that wildfire smoke alone causes, the MOU gives your agencies the opportunity to allow for prescribed fire, which is a vital tool to mitigating wildfire risk, while protecting public health. Prescribed fires cause a small amount of smoke at a predictable time and in a more controlled manner, which is far preferable to the large and unpredictable smoke of catastrophic wildfires.”
On November 8, 2023, the EPA, the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance collaboration to protect communities from the negative impacts of wildfire smoke. Complex and technical regulations continue to limit the use of prescribed fires, which produce far less smoke than wildfires and can be planned when wind is blowing away from communities.
Senate Western Caucus members Dan Sullivan (R-AK), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), John Thune (R-SD) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) joined Daines and Lummis in sending the letter.
Click here to read the letter.