Wildfires throughout Canada have displaced over 20,000 people and are making air quality hazardous in many of its major cities and in the US. Airports delayed flights due to visibility concerns in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. This summer projects to be the worst fire season in Canadian history. Pictures of the haze in New York City are reminiscent of those eerie San Francisco Bay Area skies in 2020.
A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report concludes that the Environmental Protection Agency’s response to wildfire smoke is “ad hoc,” poorly resourced and muddled by a lack of coordination with other agencies. The new GAO report highlights how an “Exceptional Events” rule loophole in the Clean Air Act allows local regulators to make a case that air pollution from “natural” wildfires shouldn’t count against their federal air quality goals. Thus, erasing some of the worst air-pollution days pollution — not from the sky, but from the record.