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Seattle Journal of Technology, Environmental & Innovation Law

Abstract

The urgency to prepare for the climate crisis has never been greater. We are currently living in the sixth mass extinction and the effects are only going to accelerate. We will inherit more wildfires, larger wildfires, and more frequent wildfires.

This piece is not meant to stoke fear in its readers or be depressing, but to shift public perception on what our future holds by evaluating the laws and science presented to us. This piece will look at regional and federal regulations and assess the increased rate of forest fires and the grave public health concerns from stagnant smoke specifically in the Pacific Northwest. It will analyze how Washington State is still reactive instead of proactive to fires, which in turn creates unhealthier forests and longer-lasting fires over a larger area, creating more and more smoke. Additionally, it will address and propose solutions to problems created by the Fire Funding Fix section of the 2018 Omnibus Bill. The Fire Funding Fix section of the Bill passed in March of 2018 attempted to alleviate pressure on agency and forest management funds; however, it does not remedy the issues of unhealthy forests and actually creates loopholes for environmental regulations. Among other things, Washington State should shift its policy towards more regulations and funding of projects that educate and prepare the public for climate change and its increasing impact from fires. This requires changing the public’s perception and expectations through scientific studies and policies that promote prescribed fires and proper preparation for smoke-filled skies to deter health concerns. The Fire Funding Fix Bill ought to be modified to both require people to take preventative measures around their homes and provide people with proper masks before larger smoke clouds set in for longer periods. These issues are particularly timely in the Pacific Northwest, a region home to more expansive and frequent forest fires.

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