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Contact: Governor's Press Office
|Monday, July 2, 2018
Governor Brown and Legislative Leaders Issue Statement on Formation of Wildfire Preparedness and Response Conference Committee
SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates and Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle today announced action on legislation to strengthen disaster preparedness and set forth appropriate policies to respond to the increasing wildfire danger.
“Wildfires and extreme weather are more destructive than ever and that’s why we must take decisive action to protect the lives and property of the people of California. Tackling this challenge requires all of us to roll up our sleeves and to work together,” said the leaders.
Following some of the most destructive wildfires in California history, Governor Brown joined with legislative leaders in March to commit to delivering a solution that will make California more resilient against future disasters. Continuing this effort, legislative leaders plan to move Senate Bill 901 (Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa) to a conference committee where it will be available to be amended to continue the state’s progress toward reaching that goal.
The amended legislation will help prepare the state to deal with the increasingly extreme weather and natural disasters caused by climate change. Specifically, the committee will consider provisions of the plan outlined in March to update rules and regulations for utility services in light of changing climate and the increased severity and frequency of weather events, such as:
- Strengthen fire prevention activities such as vegetation removal, infrastructure maintenance, utility company inspections and temporary shut off of power during extreme weather;
- Continue to ensure that those who cause wildfires are held accountable for damages associated with them;
- Appropriately determine responsibility for a wildfire;
- Ensure fair allocation of wildfire prevention and response costs in a manner that protects ratepayers; and
- Require utilities to annually submit to the state more expansive and detailed wildfire and emergency preparedness plans.
The legislation would implement these changes in the future, and nothing in the bill would affect any potential liability for last year’s historic and massively destructive wildfires.
More land has already burned in California in the first six months of this year than during the same period last year. Specifically, CAL FIRE has already fought more than 53,000 acres of wildfire this year compared to an average of 23,000 acres over the same time in previous years. Four of California’s five most destructive wildfires on record have burned in the last 15 years.
Forests serve as the state’s largest land-based carbon sink, drawing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in trees and shrubs and in forest soils. But even a single wildfire can immediately cancel all those benefits.