In 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a wildfire mitigation bill that could have prevented the fires

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
By Paul Martin

by: Ethan Huff
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

As President Donald Trump joins firefighters and other emergency responders in California to assess the unprecedented damage caused by the latest bout of wildfires to ravage the Golden State, many are asking why Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a wildfire management bill passed by the legislature back in 2016 that would have prevented them from occurring in the first place.

According to reports, the more than 221,000 acres that were burned, resulting in at least 44 deaths, all could have been saved, had Governor Brown signed off on bipartisan legislation to mitigate all fire risks from utility equipment – including the power lines that are believed to have sparked the worst of the most recent fires.

“He has done nothing to harden those assets,” stated state Senator John Moorlach, a Republican, during a recent interview with The Daily Caller.

Senate Bill 1463, which Sen. Moorlach sponsored, would have afforded local governments a much larger role in developing fire risk maps with both the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and CAL FIRE, the state’s official firefighting agency.

The bill would have mandated that CPUC work directly with utilities to help mitigate various wildfire risks, including by putting electric utility lines underground if need be to avoid a fire risk. However, Governor Brown resisted, stating that state officials “have been doing just that through the existing proceeding on re-threat maps and re-safety regulations,” he’s quoted as saying.

This clearly hasn’t been the case, however. According to Sen. Moorlach, very little has been done either by state agencies or local utilities to mitigate fire risks throughout the state – even in the highest-risk areas – proving once again that Governor Brown is completely out of touch with the needs of California.

“Well, they’ve been working on it for like eight years, and they haven’t gotten it done,” Sen. Moorlach told reporters. “Utilities are just sort of hanging onto the money.”

Gov. Brown blames “global warming” for California wildfires

Others, including journalist Katy Grimes, have offered similar criticisms. She tweeted recently that Gov. Brown “had many chances to address CA’s increasing wildfires since his election in 2011, but instead chose to play politics.”

But Gov. Brown’s spokesman, Evan Westrup, has denied these and other claims. He’s accusing Gov. Brown’s critics of “exploiting tragedy and peddling bunk to score cheap political points,” insinuating that California’s wildfires have nothing to do with the forest management bill that his boss vetoed.

“Senate Bill 1463 would have prolonged the safety work already going on at the CPUC by requiring the participation of certain entities, which was unnecessary because CAL FIRE was already a party to the proceeding, and local governments and fire departments could also participate,” he’s quoted as saying.

Gov. Brown himself is going the denial route as well, insisting that “global warming” is to blame for these fires. He even went a step further to blame “those who deny” global warming, saying that they are the ones responsible for these horrible wildfires.

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