As California tries to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, the state has run into an unexpected obstacle: air pollution regulation. The New Yorker reports on how this regulation has paradoxically blocked prescribed burns and other risk-reduction methods, even though they reduce air pollution overall:
The California Air Resources Board restricts prescribed burns to days when pollution is at acceptable levels and the weather likely to disperse emissions from fire. In practice, this means that burning can occur only during a few weeks in the spring. In summer and autumn—the seasons when forests would burn naturally—the state’s air usually falls foul of the Clean Air Act. These are also the months that are most prone to uncontrollable wildfires, whose smoke is far more damaging to human health than that from prescribed fire. But, perversely, because wildfires are classified as natural catastrophes, their emissions are not counted against legal quotas.
View original post 345 more words