Forest Service chief: Prescribed burns conflict with air rules

By Marc Heller | 04/11/2024 06:35 AM EDT

Randy Moore told senators he favors prescribed fire to manage forests but didn’t commit to seeking an EPA exemption from smoke-related air pollution rules.

Randy Moore.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Senate Appropriations Committee

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore told senators Wednesday he’s not sure the prescribed fires his agency uses to make forests healthier can stand up to federal air pollution rules.

At an Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Moore said he’s a strong supporter of prescribed burning in fire-adapted forests, which can prevent future wildfires from becoming catastrophic.

But the smoke from the controlled burning might put areas out of attainment with recently tightened national ambient air quality standards despite EPA’s assertion that officials can sometimes make exceptions, he said.


“To me, it’s still a little uncertain,” Moore told the Interior-Environment Subcommittee at a hearing on the Forest Service’s budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.