Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for twice as many Forest Service personnel to be deployed to Canada on Thursday to help fight the hundreds of wildfires fueling a smoky haze over the eastern U.S.
“These unprecedented wildfires are a crisis for both Canada and the United States, so both nations must respond speedily and forcefully to contain the blazes,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “The best way to ensure the U.S. does not suffer another wave of wildfire air pollution is to contain these fires up in Canada as soon as possible.”
“We must send personnel, we must send equipment, and we must offer any assistance that our friends north of the border need,” he added.
Canada is struggling to contain more than 400 active wildfires whose smoke has blanketed the Northeast, parts of the Midwest and resulted in air quality warnings throughout the region.
“To walk through New York City yesterday was to walk on another planet — the orange fog of wildfire smoke left our city unrecognizable,” Schumer said Thursday. “From Bayside to Brooklyn, from Buffalo to Binghamton, my home state looked like the scene of a scary movie.”
The New York Democrat also emphasized the role of climate change in Canada’s recent wildfires, saying that both parties have “an obligation to do more” on the issue.
“We cannot fully account for these fires without recognizing that climate change is making disasters like this far more common and far more destructive,” he said.
“What we considered freak incidents today could become the norm tomorrow — and the more we ignore our obligation to lower carbon emissions, the greater the risks of these disasters,” Schumer said.