Ron meets with Oregonians about his Clean Air Refugee Assistance Act

Ron met last week with supporters throughout Oregon of his Clean Air Refugee Assistance Act, which would help people forced to seek shelter from wildfire smoke when it reaches unhealthy levels.

At news conferences in Medford and Portland, Ron picked up backing for his new legislation from elected officials, public health officials and firefighters sharing his concerns about the health impacts of wildfire smoke on their communities.

“Something’s got to be done when young people and senior citizens are afraid of opening the front door because they think they’ll be engulfed with smoke and dirty air,” he said at the Jackson County Health and Human Services building in Medford.

The senator’s bill would allow people seeking temporary shelter from wildfire smoke to apply for relief under a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program that covers temporary lodging for people who can’t immediately return home after a disaster.

The legislation would let clean air refugees seek temporary lodging aid from FEMA if they live in an area where the air quality index is determined to be unhealthy for at least three consecutive days as the result of a wildfire declared a major disaster by the President or Governor of the affected state.  It will especially help the elderly and the young who suffer from medical conditions that make smoke a truly threatening event.

"Whether it's children suffering from asthma or seniors needing respirators to breathe, all clean air refugees deserve the same consideration as other disaster victims forced to seek temporary shelter," Ron said at Fire Station 1 in Portland

The Clean Air Refugee Assistance Act is part of Ron’s comprehensive approach to dealing with wildfires devastating Oregon and the West.

Other examples of his work this year include eliminating federal agencies’ flawed practice of borrowing from wildfire prevention funds; successfully urging the Forest Service to develop a plan addressing the hazardous fuels backlog in the woods;  securing $7 million to train National Guard members to fight wildfires; pressing the Forest Service to ensure enough air tankers are available to fight wildfires; and seeking disaster relief for Oregon farmers whose crops were destroyed by wildfires.