More than 30 labor, environmental, and health groups are urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to unlock crucial disaster relief funding for extreme heat and wildfire smoke, neither of which are recognized by FEMA as major disasters.

Liz Shuler, president of AFL-CIO, said,

 After the hottest year on record in 2023 and new heat records broken already this year, it is clear that labor protections aren’t keeping up with the escalation of the climate crisis. Too many workers are exposed to extreme heat and wildfire smoke on the job without adequate safety measures in place. Not only do we need to develop strong worker protection standards to meet the demand of the changing environment and intensifying climate disasters, we need the federal government to take action now to release resources. The AFL-CIO calls on FEMA to swiftly classify heat and wildfires as ‘major disasters’ under the Stafford Act to ensure workers and their communities — especially marginalized communities — have the resources they need to prepare for and respond to the ongoing threats of climate change. FEMA has the power to save lives — and we urge them to use that power to meet this emergency with the urgency it deserves.”

Jean Su, energy justice director and senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said,

It’s past time for FEMA to address the climate emergency head-on. That means unlocking crucial funding for local governments to build robust and resilient solutions like community solar and storage, cooling centers and air filtration. That’s a critical way we can protect workers and vulnerable communities from the ravages of the climate emergency.