Should the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognize extreme heat and wildfire smoke as ‘major disasters’?

By Marley Smith
The Los Angeles Times
June 17, 2024
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US West

The nation’s top emergency response agency has long been a lifeline for cities and states struggling with disaster. …Yet for all its assistance, FEMA’s official definition of a “major disaster” does not include two threats that are increasingly posing harm to millions of Americans: extreme heat and wildfire smoke. In a rule-making petition filed Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 30 other environmental organizations, healthcare groups and trade unions argued that it’s time to change that. They are requesting that the Stafford Act — FEMA’s animating statute — be amended to include extreme heat and wildfire smoke in its regulations. Doing so, they say, would unlock crucial disaster relief funding that would allow local governments to invest in cooling centers and air filtration systems, work toward resilient energy solutions such as community solar and storage, and better prepare for emergencies. …Forecasters on the West Coast are already predicting a potentially active wildfire season. 

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