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What They Are Saying | EPA Prescribed Fires Guidance to Air Agencies

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WASHINGTON (Aug. 15, 2019) – On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new guidance that will help state, local and tribal air agencies and key federal partners show that certain air quality impacts from prescribed fire on wildlands should be excluded from some regulatory uses. The guidance, Exceptional Events Guidance: Prescribed Fire on Wildland that May Influence Ozone and Particulate Matter Concentrations, will help streamline the demonstration development and review process. State and federal elected officials had the following to say:

U.S. Representative Greg Walden (OR-2), ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce:
“The EPA’s new guidelines are small steps in the right direction for forest management and reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire. I’m encouraged to see that the discussions I held in Medford last year with local leaders, citizens, and the EPA’s Region 10 administrator about the impact of wildfire and the challenges we face in managing our forests were taken into consideration by the EPA. These guidelines will allow for more flexibility for land managers to use prescribed fires when necessary. We know prescribed fire is one tool in the toolbox for improving forest health and reducing the risk of larger, more dangerous wildfires that pour smoke into our communities. For it to be effective, however, it needs to follow sensible thinning and harvest projects, which is why I’ve included tools in my bill, the Resilient Federal Forests Act, to help forest managers expedite those projects as well. There is still lots of work to be done when it comes to forest management, but this is a welcomed piece of the puzzle.

“Decisions on how, when, and how aggressively we fight fires matter. They matter to our forests, to our habitats, to our watersheds, and to the air quality in our communities. Let’s have less of this ash, less of this ruin, and better air quality.”

Utah Governor Gary Herbert:
"We appreciate the EPA listening to states and recognizing that prescribed burns are an important tool in maintaining healthy forests and preventing catastrophic wildfires." 

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality's Air Quality Division:
"Communication of clear expectations and establishing effective streamlined processes fosters collaboration and provides a positive benefit to Wyoming's citizens, business, and environment. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality's Air Quality Division appreciates EPA's continued efforts working with co-regulators and other stakeholders to clarify and streamline the exceptional event demonstration process."

Jefferson County Colorado Board of County Commissioners Chairman Libby Szabo:
“The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment, and that is exactly what this tool does. When devastating fires ravage our communities, it creates polluted air and contaminates our rivers with harmful debris. Giving local governments the latitude to make decisions that are best for the vitality of their communities will keep people safe and our air and water clean. Those are the things we all expect from our government.”

Ventura County Supervisor and Air Pollution Control Board Member Kelly Long:
"In the wake of some of the most devastating fires in history, we have been exploring all possible options to protect against and help mitigate the risk of wildfires, which cause destruction on a massive scale. Prescribed burns can be an incredibly effective tool to protect life and property against fire devastation and public officials should be given broad latitude to employ this proactive remedy. In addition, the air quality and public health impacts of smoke from wildfires can be greatly reduced by a well-managed prescribed fire program."