Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today introduced the Small Business Wildfire Smoke Recovery Act to help small businesses whose operations are harmed by wildfire smoke. The legislation would amend the Small Business Act to ensure that small businesses are eligible for disaster relief if they are forced to close or limit hours due to wildfire smoke and unhealthy air quality. The Senator introduced this legislation after hearing from Nevada small businesses about the impact of heavy smoke on their revenue.
In 2021, over 610 wildfires burned 134,145 acres throughout Nevada. This year, California’s 18,000 acre Oak Fire is currently sending thick smoke into the Reno-Tahoe area.
“Nevadans know all too well the impact that wildfires burning across the West can have on the state’s air quality,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This legislation recognizes the harm wildfire smoke can cause Nevada’s small businesses, and it will make sure they are supported. I’ll keep working to protect our communities and small businesses alike from the devastating effects of wildfires.”
The Small Business Wildfire Smoke Recovery Act would amend current language under the Small Business Act (SBA) to include wildfire smoke as an eligible disaster for relief. With the inclusion, governors will be able to allow small businesses to access loans under the SBA and therefore qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). EIDLs are designed to provide small businesses with the funds they need to operate while they recover from a natural or other disaster.
Senator Cortez Masto has routinely invested in wildfire prevention and support for those affected by fires. In the bipartisan infrastructure law, she helped secure over $3.4 billion for wildfire prevention, suppression, and restoration activities. Just last year, she introduced the Western Wildfire Support Act, which would allow communities across Nevada and the Western U.S. to invest in training, equipment, and funding to combat wild and rangeland fires. Senator Cortez Masto has hosted regular conversations to help coordinate wildfire response, including a first-of-its kind wildfire summit in 2019 to allow firefighters, ranchers, conservationists, scientists, power companies, and representatives of government agencies to find new ways to coordinate and collaborate.