Press Releases

DelBene, Hoyle Push Federal Agencies to Issue Wildfire Smoke Alerts

Lawmakers also call on government to collect standardized data on smoke concentration, mortality

Congresswomen Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Val Hoyle (OR-04) led 20 lawmakers in calling on federal agencies to equip communities facing increasing wildfire smoke incidents with better tools and data to keep them safe.

In a letter, the lawmakers urged the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to utilize the Wireless Emergency Alerts system to issue nationwide smoke notifications. These would be similar to how the system notifies communities about wildfires and other natural disasters. They also call on the federal government to create a nationwide smoke concentration dataset and a smoke mortality databank. These actions would make sure communities have the proper tools at their disposal to help reduce the negative health effects of air pollution, improve public awareness of air quality and associated health impacts, and save lives.

“We believe these are three commonsense steps that your agencies could take today to ensure our communities have the tools needed to properly understand and respond to wildfire smoke,” the lawmakers wrote.


  • A bipartisan infrastructure law-created federal commission issued a report earlier this year that also called for some of these changes.
  • During the 2023 wildfire season, smoke from wildfires in Eastern Canada has blanketed the Midwest and the East Coast of the United States.
  • In states across the West and Pacific Northwest, wildfire smoke events have become increasingly common in recent years.
  • A new study reveals that several states, including Washington, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and New Mexico, have seen a 50 percent or more increase in air pollution since 2000 due to wildfire smoke
  • In many cases, wildfire smoke is more lethal than the fires themselves, resulting in 6,300 annual deaths.

The letter was also signed by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Josh Harder (CA-09), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Mike Levin (CA-49), Joe Neguse (C0-02), Eleanor Norton (DC-At-Large), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-24), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Brittany Pettersen (CO-07), Katie Porter (CA-47), Adam Schiff (CA-30), Kim Schrier (WA-08), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Mike Thompson (CA-04), and Paul Tonko (NY-20).

A copy of the letter can be found here.