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Reps. Mike Thompson, Anna Eshoo introduce Smoke Planning and Research Act

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Mike Thompson

Rep. Mike Thompson 

Reps. Mike Thompson, D- St. Helena, and Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto introduced legislation Thursday that would authorize $20 million for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study the health impacts of wildfire smoke and what can be done to mitigate its effects.

The Smoke Planning and Research Act would also create a grant program at the EPA to help at-risk communities plan for and respond to wildfire smoke.

"During last year's wildfires, millions of Americans were subjected to dirty air and for days, my constituents endured the worst air quality in the world. As climate change makes wildfires more frequent, poor air quality will remain a persistent public health concern in the Bay Area," Eshoo said. "Our legislation directs the EPA to study the public health impacts of wildfire smoke and provide resources to local governments to mitigate these risks. The communities devastated by wildfires deserve our help to rebuild and better protect the health of their residents during future disasters."

The bill would also establish four "Centers of Excellence" at universities to ensure the research remains grounded in the issues faced by residents at risk of wildfire smoke inhalation.

A record-breaking heatwave and drought have been afflicting the Western United States, and wildfires have already broken out in multiple states like California and Arizona. William Lee, the chief economist at the Milken Institute, spoke with Cheddar about the economic ramifications of climate change on the hotter, dryer West, as residents deal with spotty water and power supplies and leave for other parts of the country.

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