The Biden administration this week is announcing an interagency focus on protecting communities from wildfire smoke, part of an "all of the above" approach to prevent large fires that put communities at risk.
"This year has shown the entire country and the world that wildfires don't stop at a state or country line – they impact all of us and require a coordinated and collaborative approach," Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement.
"The Biden-Harris administration is committed to using every tool available to protect communities from the hazards of wildfire smoke, while also ensuring we have the tools we need to reduce the future risk of large, high severity wildfire events," Haaland said.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed between the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The voluntary agreement states that the agencies will work to allow more use of prescribed burns to manage forests and other areas where it could help prevent large fires from spreading. They are also working on initiatives to better prepare for and prevent health risks from wildfire smoke in impacted communities, such as improving forecasting for smoke events.
2023 marked one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, according to the European Union's climate change service Copernicus.
In the U.S., smoke from wildfires in Canada prompted days of air quality alerts over some of the largest cities in the country, raising concerns about the health impacts for millions.
The new MOU is a follow up on a recent report which said all government agencies need to be focused on preventing and managing wildfires in combination with more action from Congress.
The White House has asked for more money to increase pay for wildland firefighters and add to funding for disaster relief efforts.
White House announces new efforts to prevent wildfires, limit smoke hazards originally appeared on abcnews.go.com