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Schrader Calls Attention to Oregon’s Wildfires During Committee Hearing

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5) joined the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment today to bring attention to the impact that wildfires and federal forests have on air quality throughout communities in the Oregon. The hearing, titled Air Quality Impacts of Wildfires: Perspectives of Key Stakeholders, comes one week after the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing to examine ways to reduce wildfire suppression costs and improve forest management practices.

“I thank Chairmen Walden and Shimkus along with Ranking Members Pallone and Tonko for bringing attention to this natural disaster and the significant impact it has on our communities,” said Rep. Schrader. “In September, schools and businesses across Portland and Columbia Gorge area closed and folks were told to not go outside as ash literally rained down from the sky. The effect this has on our air isn’t just for the duration of the fire, it has a long-term harmful impact on our children and communities. But damage to our air quality doesn’t come just from fires. Our Oregon Global Warming Commission found that the bulk of carbon emissions in our state come from dead, diseased trees in our forests. You want to talk about global warming and climate change? Let’s talk about the dire need for a holistic approach to preventing harmful emissions. That approach must include not only better wildfire suppression and prevention, but also significant improvements to our broken forest management system.”

[VIDEO]: Congressman Schrader calls attention to carbon emission from federal forests.

Congressman Schrader questions Dr. John Bailey, Professor, Oregon State University, College of Forestry during the Committee Hearing.

Oregon's forests are responsible for 75% of all long-term emissions produced statewide by all other sectors. Most of that comes from tree mortality rather than from wildfires. Although federal forests occupy 50% of Oregon's forests, they account for 70% of yearly emissions due to tree mortality while private forests only occupy 33% of state forest land and emit 16% due to tree death. Congressman Schrader has repeatedly called for improved forest management and has made fixing the current budgeting process for wildfire prevention and suppression a legislative priority.