Sacramento, CA — Late yesterday, hours before a key deadline, a California legislative committee passed through a wildfire prevention bill that will now go before the Assembly and Senate later this week.
The bill calls for using $1-billion of the state’s cap and trade revenue over a five year period for wildfire prevention efforts. It includes grants and incentives for property owners to clear dead and dying trees and make the landscape less fire prone. It also calls for streamlining some of the state rules related to heavily forest areas and creates new exemptions related to the size of trees that can be removed.
The bill also deals with the responsibility of utility companies that are deemed responsible for starting wildfires. It allows companies to impose a surcharge on customers that can be used to sell long-term bonds to cover costs. There would also be an independent assessment done, or stress test, to see how much of the costs companies could afford to realistically take on to avoid things like bankruptcy.
The proposal gained some bi-partisan support in the committee but it remains unknown if there are enough votes for it to be approved before the legislative session ends later this week. Yesterday was the deadline for bills to pass in committee.