With an eye toward destructive wildfire as California’s most immediate climate emergency, Gov. Jerry Brown took action on Friday to broadly expand state prevention efforts while allowing utility companies to shift some fire-related costs to their customers.
The far-reaching proposal signed by Brown boosts government fire protection efforts by $1 billion over the next five years, providing funds that could help clear thousands of acres of dense, dry forests and brittle coastal brush. The bill’s combination of cash and regulatory relief mark a major escalation in addressing what’s been called the “new normal” of fire danger for the state, far beyond what’s been spent on immediate emergency responses.
“Wildfires in California aren’t going away, and we have to do everything possible to prevent them,” the governor said in a written statement. “This bill is complex and requires investment – but it’s absolutely necessary.”
Negotiations over the details of the 112-page law dominated the state Capitol during the final weeks of the legislative session. The proposal’s fine points emerged just hours before the final vote on Aug. 31. While many lawmakers found parts of the proposal unpalatable, few were willing to be seen as not having done everything they could to protect the lives and property of their constituents.
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