Today let’s remember all those who have suffered losses, and again pay tribute to the firefighters who are working so hard out there. And let’s work together to improve the conditions that have such dangerous potential.
People across Oregon have been suffering the impacts from unprecedented wildfires throughout our state and region and I want to acknowledge the tremendous losses that have been suffered by our fellow citizens. Up and down the West Coast, the destruction from these fires is heartbreaking.
As the Chair of the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission, I want to share the commission’s compassion as we mourn with those who have lost family and friends in the fires. This is devastating and our thoughts go out to them. We are thankful that more lives were not lost, and so grateful to the heroic efforts of those fighting on the frontlines of the blazes.
We remember those who have lost homes, special places, and prized family treasures. These losses are traumatic and some can never be replaced. We also recognize that millions of people have struggled with dangerous breathing conditions for weeks. This is difficult and sickening in the short term and damaging to our health in the long term.
We know that many factors came together to create the dangerous conditions that Oregon has been facing. And scientists have warned for years that climate change was creating hotter dryer conditions that would make events like the ones Oregon has been experiencing more common if we continue on our current path.
Working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, we are intimately aware of the benefits of using science to protect and restore air quality. DEQ’s air monitors and Air Quality Index are among the most valuable tools to determine when an air advisory is needed for portions of the state.
With the unforgiving wildfires and overwhelming smoke, even these tools were pushed to the limit. The circumstances were far beyond anyone’s control, but there are still steps we can take to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
So, today let’s remember all those who have suffered losses, and again pay tribute to the firefighters who are working so hard out there. And let’s work together to improve the conditions that have such dangerous potential.
— Kathleen George, Environmental Quality Commission Chair