EPA Announces Nearly $11M in Grants for Wildfire Preparedness
Pacific Northwest communities will receive grants totaling more than $3 million.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently announced that nearly US$10 million will be granted to communities for wildfire smoke preparedness and protection, through the Wildfire Smoke Preparedness in Community Buildings program.
Projects funded by the new federal program are designed to assess, prevent, control, or abate wildfire smoke hazards in community buildings that serve the public and that serve disadvantaged communities or vulnerable populations.
“After the wildfires in Maui, the wildfire smoke that blanketed the East Coast last summer, and the many devastating wildfires in the West, we are all aware of the very real health impacts of smoke as well as the critical importance of smoke preparedness,” said Janet McCabe, EPA deputy administrator. “EPA is providing more than $10 million in grant funding that will help provide important public health protections in communities across our country, especially in those communities who have been overburdened by smoke pollution for far too long.”
Four grant applicants in the Pacific Northwest have already been selected to receive an expected $3,472,516 in funding. They are:
- Nez Perce Tribe, Tribal land within boundaries of Idaho—$1,337,920
- Bellingham School District No. 501, Washington—$364,400
- Gonzaga University, Washington—$1,102,696
- Oregon State University, Oregon—$667,500.
“Every community in the Pacific Northwest is impacted by smoke from wildfires,” said Casey Sixkiller, EPA region 10 administrator. “EPA is committed to supporting innovative solutions and investing in partnerships with tribes, schools, and other organizations to help these communities prepare for longer wildfire seasons and learn how best to protect their families.”
According to the EPA, wildfire smoke plumes can cause significant negative health impacts over a large portion of the U.S. population, with problems ranging from eye and throat irritation to asthma attacks, cardiovascular events, and even premature death. While people are often advised to stay indoors during severe smoke events such as wildfires, the outdoor smoke can still enter buildings and impair indoor air quality (IAQ).
“As climate chaos intensifies, so do extreme wildfires and hazardous smoke events—events that endanger public health and impact everyday life for those under the plumes of dark smoke,” said U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. “I created this program to help ensure communities in Oregon and across the West have access to the resources they need to protect themselves from the dangerous smoke and heat that has unfortunately become expected with our increasingly hot summer months.”
The EPA anticipates awarding nine grants in all for the program, ranging from approximately $350,000 to $2 million per grant and totaling more $10 million.
To learn more about the Wildfire Smoke Preparedness in Community Buildings program, visit the EPA website. To learn how your facility can be prepared for the event of a wildfire, check out 4 Things to Do Before a Wildfire Hits Your Facility.