‘Religious fervor’ of environmentalists blamed for California’s wildfire epidemic

by WorldTribune Staff, November 1, 2019

Democrats in California, beholden to environmentalists who insist on 100 percent “green” energy by 2045, are largely to blame for the wildfires that are devastating The Golden State, critics say.

In an Oct. 25 editorial, the Wall Street Journal said, “California’s return to the dark ages is a direct result of the Democratic political monopoly in Sacramento.”

Fire in Ventura County, California. / YouTube

Meanwhile California’s Democrats are blaming President Donald Trump’s policies. “This is only a taste of the horror and the terror that will occur in decades,” former Gov. Jerry Brown warned.

The New York Post noted on Oct. 29 that “Californians Created Their Current Wildfire Apocalypse.”

Washington Times reporter Valerie Richardson wrote on Oct. 30: “Blame for the crisis is increasingly shifting to years of Democratic-driven policies that prioritized climate change and discouraged tree-thinning in the name of protecting the environment, producing dangerously dense forests ready to ignite at the first spark.”

State Sen. Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher, both Republicans, who represent the town of Paradise and Camp Fire survivors, have authored legislation to direct additional funding into utility infrastructure upgrades and forest fuel reduction projects by temporarily discontinuing the state’s renewable energy mandates until infrastructure and vegetation management conditions are improved, Californiaglobe.com reported on Oct. 29.

A suspension of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) could free up billions of dollars for PG&E and other utilities to invest in fire prevention measures, including burying aging power lines and thinning overgrown forests, the GOP lawmakers said.

“In 2017 alone, PG&E spent $2.4 billion of your ratepayer dollars on buying expensive renewable power,” Gallagher said. “They only spent $1.5 billion on updating their infrastructure. That’s completely backward and needs to change.”

Gallagher added: “To me, this is just a no-brainer, and the only people who would be opposed to it are radical environmental groups. It’s almost like a religious fervor they have, that we have to keep RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) no matter what, even though it’s already being met.”

Democrats have already dismissed the legislation.

State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins argued that “backsliding” on renewable energy “won’t solve the problem and will actually make things worse” by contributing to global warming.

“Replacing clean energy sources with more energy generated from fossil fuels exacerbates the climate change that is causing the extreme weather and wildfires we are facing, and it would mean higher bills for ratepayers by reducing power available from less expensive wind and solar sources,” Atkins said in a statement.

The Republican lawmakers pointed out that PG&E is already ahead of the state’s renewables targets. About 39 percent of the Northern California utility’s power comes from renewable energy, ahead of the goal of 33 percent by 2020. If you count non-carbon sources like nuclear and large hydropower — which the state doesn’t — that figure is closer to 85 percent, they say.

“In the case of the Camp Fire, an almost a century-old transmission line sparked, and that spark fell onto a tinderbox of fuel,” Gallagher said. “In the case of the Kincade Fire that’s burning right now in Sonoma, that reportedly could have come from a collapsed PG&E tower.”

Rep. Tom McClintock, California Republican, said the problem is three-fold: the Democratic legislature’s decision to “squander money on green-energy schemes”; the state’s strict liability standard for investor-owned utilities and the hands-off approach to forest management.

“The environmental laws of the ‘70s made active management of public lands all but impossible, and so we’re reverting to the old normal,” McClintock said. “Forests grow and grow until they choke themselves to death and they’re consumed by catastrophic wildfire. That’s how nature manages forests.”

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