California’s Electric Power Grab?

US-CALIFORNIA-FIRE

California currently lays claim to a record number of homeless people that are living in urban squalor, a string of diseases from the Dark Ages that have made a 21st century return, and a series of wildfires that are ravaging forests, businesses, and homes alike.

Now comes the news that millions of people are having to live off the grid, after having been involuntarily unplugged, courtesy of the utility company.

Gavin Newsom is the current Democratic governor of the state. He continues to advocate the same kinds of policies that placed California in the disastrous predicament in which it finds itself on so many fronts.

In struggling to address the problematic multi-layered situation, Newsom recently made the decision to appoint an individual to look into the idea of the state actually taking over California’s major energy company, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

One of Newsom’s cabinet secretaries was recently given the title of “energy czar,” ostensibly to try and deal with, as well as find solutions to, the massive utility problems that the state faces.

PG&E is California’s largest privately owned utility. The beleaguered company has had to seek bankruptcy protection, due to the billions of dollars in claims that have been heaped upon it for damages related to wildfires that occurred in two previous fire seasons, which were allegedly sparked by company-owned equipment.

At a recent press conference, Newsom gave a not-so-veiled warning that involved a government takeover of the utility company.

“PG&E may or may not be able to figure this one out,” Newsom said. “If they cannot, we are not going to sit around and be passive. We are gaming out a backup plan. If PG&E is unable to secure its own future… then the state will prepare itself as backup for a scenario where we do that job for them.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.), in an appearance on CNBC, provided an even more explicit statement, saying, “It’s time for the state to take ownership of PG&E…”

As the devastating fires rage on and electrical power for the people gets turned off, many of the politicians appear to be practicing the art of distraction, with focus being redirected toward the power company.

PG&E has not helped with its standing in the public eye, though. The company has been trying to sell the idea that, as a supposed safeguard, it has been preempting wildfires and preventing potential tragedies from occurring by cutting electrical power to customers before any flames actually materialize.

The problem is that folks are finding it extremely difficult to endure the power outages because, as everyone knows, our day-to-day survival in the modern world is highly dependent on a consistent flow of electricity to light our homes, run our appliances, charge our phones, digital devices, and electric vehicles, power our home medical equipment, and myriad other essential requirements.

What the mainstream media will not cover is the other side of the utility story; that being, environmentalist groups have caused the heretofore routine maintenance of forests and fire-prone shrubbery to come to a halt.

A portion of the regulatory framework has been compiled by environmental activists and left-leaning politicians, who have implemented policies that prohibit safety buffers around electric power facilities. This has resulted in a significantly heightened fire risk across the state.

The lack of proper forest maintenance has allowed for an overgrowth that literally becomes fuel for wildfires during the recurring dry hot period, which descends upon California each year between the autumn and winter seasons.

PG&E is a utility run, in great part, by the state. It is under the watchful eye of a stringent regulatory agency called the California Public Utilities Commission, a government bureaucracy with a whole lot of power and very few checks and balances.

Because PG&E is a regulated monopoly, the state has significant influence on how the company is managed. As politicians are prone to do, the political leaders in this deepest of blue states appear to have turned a blind eye to the deferred maintenance that the power company has piled up.

PG&E has been further boxed in by a legal edict that exists in only one other state, Montana. The premise is that of inverse condemnation for utility companies. Under the law, liabilities are imposed on utilities whenever their equipment is involved.

And so it is that PG&E is now going into a fire season with tens of billions of dollars in potential liability hanging over its head.

Meanwhile it looks as though California’s political leaders see yet another plum for the picking. Dangling before them is one of modern life’s most basic necessities, electricity. If they seize it, they will have gotten control over people’s lives like never before seen in this nation.

As goes California, so goes the rest of the country?

It’s long past time for folks in my state to wake up; that is, of course, if they still own a battery powered alarm clock.

Misguided Environmentalism Is the Root Cause of Devastating California Wildfires

 

thomas-fireCalifornia is in the midst of battling some of the worst wildfires in the state’s history, which have resulted in the wholesale decimation of forests, extensive destruction of property, and massive disruption of people’s lives.

Governor Jerry Brown recently characterized the dire situation by stating that these types of fires “could happen every year or every few years” and that Californians are simply “facing a new reality.”

A new reality? Hardly comforting words from the Golden State’s chronic political presence.

Certainly the “new reality” warrants a deeper investigation into what factors have been contributing to the escalation and what steps could be taken to mitigate and/or prevent future catastrophic events.

The fact of the matter is there has been a decided increase in unusually devastating fires over the last few decades. The wildfires that are occurring today are twice as large as they were forty years ago, and the fires themselves are much bigger, significantly more powerful, and consequently more dangerous.

The left claims that the mega fires are happening as a result of global warming. However, according to a recent Reason Foundation study, changes in climate cannot adequately account for the “pattern of fires observed over the past century.”

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is the agency responsible for managing the nation’s wilderness areas, which constitute almost two-thirds of U.S. forests. The USFS once had a great deal of success in mitigating the risk of major fires in the early part of the last century. Over the past few decades, though, forest management policy has become overly centralized and increasingly bureaucratic, while also presenting a growing detriment to public safety.

During the 1970s, after legislation was passed that claimed to protect the ecosystem, the USFS altered its policies in a manner that would have extremely serious consequences for those parts of the country that are concerned about wildfire hazards, particularly the Western part of the nation.

Decades of politicians employing central planning while pandering to environmentalist groups have resulted in overgrowth in the nation’s forests. Methods that had worked to lower fire danger were abandoned, and the USFS spent appreciably more money for significantly fewer results as it used its resources for questionable environmental practices.

Excess fuel in the form of overly dense wilderness areas became a mega fire hazard that created a danger to the public and to regional economies. Additionally, severe limitations on the harvesting of timber on federal land created dangerous conditions in forests that led directly to the massive fires of late. If the logging industry had been permitted to clear more wilderness areas, the fire threat would have been dramatically reduced.

The public needs to be alerted to the fact that when forests are too dense they become susceptible to the kind of explosive infernos that actually end up harming the ecosystem, killing wildlife and destroying habitats. Logging, controlled burns, and natural low-intensity wildfires not only assist in making mega fires less likely but contribute to the creation of healthier ecosystems as well.

Removing the wood fuels in naturally dry forests helps to greatly reduce the probability of high intensity fires while assisting the environment. It is imperative that the excess growth caused by decades of bad policy be removed. Dry forests, which were historically cleared by frequent, low-intensity fires, may need the careful implementation of controlled burns to protect the life and property of adjacent communities.

Republican leaders in Congress, who have been working along with the Trump administration, are attempting to reform the legal landscape that is plaguing America’s national forests. The congressional members are seeking to increase logging in order to thin out the overly dense and dangerous forest conditions that now exist.

In November the House passed legislation called the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 in order to allow salvage logging and other forms of tree cutting on federal properties.

House Speaker Paul Ryan indicated that the bill was necessary to protect the nation’s federal forests “from the kind of devastation that California experienced.”

The bill would remove draconian environmental restrictions that have dramatically curtailed timber harvests on federal lands. The legislation is currently awaiting action in the Senate.