When ‘Smoke Isn’t Smoke’: Missteps in Air Quality Regulation of Wildfire Smoke

Wildfire Policy: Law and Economics Perspectives, 2011

Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 11-20

Posted: 12 May 2011 Last revised: 1 Dec 2013

Kirsten H. Engel

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Andrew M. Reeves

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Date Written: May 10, 2011

Abstract

Decades of fire suppression have taken their toll on America’s forests. One legacy is severe wildfires. Prescribed burning is considered an effective tool in reducing the incidence of naturally-ignited wildfires and maintaining ecosystem health. Nevertheless, experts estimate that levels of prescribed burning in the U.S. are below levels that would be considered optimal for reducing wildfire damage. This paper examines the impact of the Clean Air Act regulatory framework upon wildfire smoke, concluding that distinctions between smoke originating from unplanned wildfires and prescribed burns results in the underutilization of prescribed fire. In order to ensure that the adverse health effects of wildfire smoke is taken into account in air quality planning, and not just that emanating from prescribed fire, we recommend eliminating regulatory exemptions for smoke from wildfires for air quality compliance purposes.

Keywords: wildfire, prescribed burning, air quality, public health, economics

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Engel, Kirsten H. and Reeves, Andrew M., When ‘Smoke Isn’t Smoke’: Missteps in Air Quality Regulation of Wildfire Smoke (May 10, 2011). Wildfire Policy: Law and Economics Perspectives, 2011; Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 11-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1837819

Kirsten H. Engel (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
520-621-5444 (Phone)

Andrew M. Reeves

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
464