In an effort to dramatically reduce the state’s highest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, curb the impacts of future wildfires and prevent unnecessary damage to life and property, Senate Bill 1463 will continuously appropriate 25 percent of cap and trade funds to counties to harden the state’s utility infrastructure and better manage wildlands and forests. This measure requires counties that accept funds to move swiftly in providing a plan for the funds within 6 months and the funds to be encumbered within 2 years. Any funds neither planned for nor encumbered within those timelines will be reverted to those counties making plans for the money.
This bill also requires the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to include GHGs emissions from wildland and forest fires in their updated Scoping Plan. It is estimated that for every 2 to 3 days these wildfires burn, GHG emissions are roughly equal to the annual emissions from every car in the entire state of California. In 2017 alone, there were over 9,000 major wildfires which burned over 1.2 million acres. Several of the large fires were caused or exacerbated by sparking utility lines.
So far, only a small percentage of cap and trade revenues have been spent on forest-health issues, even though wildfires are by far the highest emitters of GHGs in the state. Additionally, wildfires produce other co-pollutants and toxic bi-products that are damaging to public health.
SB 1463 emphasizes full accountability by requiring funding plans be made readily available to the public. All open meeting laws shall apply to all decision-making processes. Any county receiving and spending money for this program must have their program audited by the California State Auditor’s Office.
Climate Change Policies in California – Senator Moorlach’s Website
Improving California’s Forest and Watershed Management, Legislative Analyst’s Office, April 4, 2018: “Roughly one‑third of California is forested, including the majority of the watersheds that serve as the key originating water source for millions of people across the state. These forests also provide critical air, wildlife, climate, and recreational benefits. However, a combination of factors have resulted in poor conditions across these forests and watersheds, including excessive vegetation density and an overabundance of small trees and brush. Such conditions have contributed to more prevalent and severe wildfires and unprecedented tree mortality in recent years, and experts are concerned these trends will continue if steps are not taken to significantly improve the health of the state’s forests.”
The 2018-19 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection, Legislative Analyst’s Office, February 14, 2018: “Cap-and-Trade Auction Revenues. The administration assumes $2.4 billion in cap-and-trade auction revenue in 2018-19. While the Governor's estimate is slightly lower than ours, we find that it falls within a reasonable range. Based on this revenue estimate (and a projected year-end fund balance in 2017-18), the Governor proposes to spend $2.8 billion in 2018-19, including $1.3 billion in discretionary spending. The administration's spending plan is similar to that adopted in the current year. However, it includes a few new programs, and it proposes to make $232 million of the spending ongoing, mostly for light-duty zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) rebates. We recommend that the Legislature ensure that the spending plan is consistent with its highest priorities for this revenue, which could include greenhouse gas reduction programs, as well as such things as reducing local air pollution and climate adaptation.”
“Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada,” Little Hoover Commission, February 2018, Report #242. “In this report, the Commission calls for transformational culture change in its forest management practices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported in December 2017 that approximately 27 million trees had died statewide on federal, state and private lands since November 2016. The tally brought to 129 million the number of trees that have died in California forests during years of drought and bark beetle infestations since 2010.”
Cap-and-Trade Extension: Issues for Legislative Oversight, Legislative Analyst’s Office, December 12, 2017, “In July 2017, the Legislature passed Chapter 135 (AB 398, E. Garcia), which extends the state's cap-and-trade program from 2020 to 2030. Cap-and-trade is a key policy to help ensure the state achieves its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In this report, we identify and discuss some key issues related to implementation of the bill.”
Senator Moorlach in Joint Senate Insurance Committee & Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management – Drought, Climate Change and Fire: How is the California Homeowners' Insurance Market Responding? March 20, 2018
- “California fights wildfires aggressively—but prevention takes a back seat,” CalMatters, Julie Cart, March 28, 2018.
“With Brutal Fire Season Expected, Fight Over How to Respond Has Never Stopped,” Fox and Hounds Daily, Chris Reed, April 11, 2018
“A simple but seldom-used tactic to prevent wildfires: Turn off the power grid when winds pick up,” Los Angeles Times, Bettina Boxall, November 24, 2017
“Huge wildfires can wipe out California’s greenhouse gas gains,” San Francisco Chronicle, David Baker, November 21, 2017
“Fire risk map for utilities too little and much too late,” Orange County Register, Tom Elias, March 29, 2018
- “Fingers point at PG&E in Wine Country fires, though causes remain unknown,” San Francisco Chronicle, David R. Baker, March 18, 2018
- “Are California agencies prepared to fight year-round wildfires?” Sacramento Bee, Taryn Luna, February 27, 2018
- “Best Shot a Utility Has Against Fire Costs May Be Climate Change,” Bloomberg, Mark Chediak, February 22, 2018
- “Wildfires inspire new idea: Charging rural customers more for electricity,” San Francisco Chronicle, David R. Baker, February 18, 2018
- “California’s wildfire risk is rising. Congress missed a chance to help,” Sacramento Bee, Emily Cadei, February 7, 2017
- “California’s great Sierra forests are dying. We all have a stake in saving them,” Sacramento Bee, Editorial Board, February 5, 2018
- “California’s climate fight gets harder soon, and the big culprit is cars,” CalMatters, Julie Cart, January 10, 2018
- “California’s new wildfire prevention map could be delayed — again,” San Francisco Chronicle, David R. Baker, January 9, 2018
- “In California’s wildfires, a looming threat to climate goals,” CalMatters, Julie Cart, December 14, 2017
- “Should utilities turn off the electricity when Wildfire risk is high?” Mercury News, Paul Rogers, December 7, 2017
- “Analysts Worry California Climate Change Program Is Doing Too Well,” Capital Public Radio, Ben Bradford, December 5, 2017
- “Money to Burn,” Property and Environment Research Center, Volume 36, No.2, Winter 2017
- “California fires produced as much pollution in 2 days as all the state’s cars do in a year,” USA TODAY, Benjamin Spillman, Oct. 11, 2017