October 27, 2023

Wyden, Merkley Announce $5.1 Million to Improve Air Quality in Oregon

Federal investment to help Klamath County and Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Washington D.C. - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that Klamath County Public Health and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have secured a combined $5.1 million in federal funds for air quality.

“This federal investment packs a one-two punch because it improves overall air quality and helps Oregonians  get efficient heat sources to replace their wood-burning units,” Wyden said.  “That adds up to a huge win for quality of life in Klamath County as well as for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.” 

“These critical investments will be used to help ensure folks in Klamath County and on the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation have the support and innovation to better monitor and improve air quality,” said Senator Merkley. “Air pollution often goes unnoticed, but can contribute greatly to chronic health conditions. This funding will help improve health outcomes and quality of life for thousands of Oregonians."

The $4.67 million from the Environmental Protection Agency will go to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to partner with Klamath County Public Health, allowing the two agencies to change out around 300 woodstoves and weatherize 100 houses in Klamath County, with a focus on improving services to underserved populations who rely on wood for heat. As part of the $4.67 million, $323,630 in utility assistance will be granted to low-income applicants who change out their woodstoves through the program. 

An additional $451,250 in EPA funding will go to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation for air quality monitoring. 

“Air quality is an area of public health that requires our constant attention and intention,” said Jennifer Little, director of Klamath County Public Health. “We’ve had two diligent partners in working toward better air for everyone in the DEQ and South Central Oregon Economic Development District. This grant also includes a new element with Klamath Lake Community Action Services, which is an exciting addition to the ongoing work. Our community is better for the work of each and our continued partnership.”