A group of Senate Democrats introduced new legislation Wednesday which would permit President Joe Biden to declare a “smoke emergency” over diminished air quality.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon introduced the Wildfire Smoke Emergency Declaration Act on Wednesday, co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Alex Padilla of California and Dianne Feinstein of California. The bill would allow Biden to declare a “smoke emergency” in any state that he determines to be enduring a “significant decrease” in air quality due to forest fire smoke, according to the bill text.
Biden would also be able to declare a “smoke emergency” if he anticipates that a state will soon face a “significant” decrease in air quality attributable to forest fires, according to the bill text. The bill does not specify any threshold for a decrease in air quality required to allow an emergency declaration. (RELATED: Canadian Government Forest Fire Stats Contradict White House ‘Climate Change’ Narrative)
The bill also would permit state governors and relevant state agencies to request an emergency declaration from Biden if it eventually becomes law. Upon declaring a “smoke emergency,” Biden would be able to use the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies to issue grant funding, equipment and resources to build “smoke shelters.”
Small businesses operating in a “smoke emergency” zone that lose money due to smoky conditions would be eligible to receive money from the Small Business Administration, according to the bill text.
“It’s crucial that we make sure communities have access to all of the resources they need to battle blazes and protect themselves from the dangerous smoke and heat that has unfortunately become expected during these hot summer months,” Merkley said in a Wednesday statement.
Congressional Republicans introduced legislation in June that would preemptively ban Biden from invoking special emergency powers on the basis of a national climate emergency.
The offices of Merkley, Wyden, Feinstein and Padilla did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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