As wildfires burn throughout the state, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is working on
two bills to deal with what he calls a smoke crisis.
The Smoke Ready Community Act would create grants to make
air quality upgrades more accessible and provide more funding for
Those upgrades would include smoke filters in public
buildings and more protective gear, like masks.
“The communities would decide what specifically they
think would work best and for some it’s having gear ready to disburse which is
a mask to help people keep smoke out of their lungs for others they’re really
going to emphasize having spaces, whether it’s schools or public buildings
where it’s highly filtered air.” said Merkley.
The second bill, The Smoke Planning and Research Act, will
provide federal funding toward research and development.
His plan includes creating four centers to research wildfire
smoke. One of which would be at the University of Oregon.
“The University builds a huge network of individuals within
the university outside the University with all the stakeholder groups by having
continuous focus on developing and testing the strategies and that becomes very
In addition, there would be $20-million in federal funding
to the EPA to study the public.