Jerry Brown vetoed enhanced requirements for undergrounding power lines, blames CA wildfires on nebulous “climate change”

While Brown proclaims larges wildfires “the new normal”, here’s some scrutiny on his own incompetence in preventing wildfires

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

In September 2016 California Governor Brown vetoed Senate Bill 1463 which enhanced requirements for the CPUC and state Forestry and Fire Protection to facilitate the undergrounding of power lines in high fire risk areas across the stately by requiring the states involvement with cities and counties facing high fire risks and by requiring the prioritization of high fire risk regions.

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The vetoed Bill would have provided enhanced requirements for how the CPUC was to lead this effort by mandating involvement of the states cities and counties along with prioritization of high fire risk regions.

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Overhead power lines have been linked to a number of major California wildfires including the 2007 Witch Creek fire in San Diego County which destroyed 1141 homes with 21 deaths and in 2015 are also suspected of being the cause of the Northern Ca. wine country fires as well. Wind damaged overhead power lines are suspected as a potential cause of some of the most recent large and tragic fires in California this year.

Instead of acknowledging to the public that his decision to veto the enhanced fire fighting requirements of SB 1463 was a poor decision particularly given the huge problems the state faces with wildfires he has attempted to cover-up this error by conducting a high profile political campaign blaming California wildfires on speculative and specious “climate change” driven assertions.

At a UN sponsored panel on air pollution in September 2015 Governor Brown claimed that climate change was making California fires more frequent and intense. The conference failed to support  Brown’s claim that climate change was driving the states wildfire growth and instead noted other “man made” factors as being responsible for the increased intensity of recent fires.

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These factors included excessive and unaddressed growth of vegetation in high risk areas, unnatural and long standing fire suppression practices which are allowing the build up of combustibles and the building of large developments adjacent to or near high fire risk regions.

All of these factors as addressed in the 2015 conference play key roles in creating and intensifying the most recent California wildfires.

According to Cal Fire people  are the usual cause of wildfires. “According to Cal Fire statistics, seven of the top 20 most destructive California wildfires were caused by power lines or arson. Another seven on that list are still under investigation or undetermined.”

Research by Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service found the following major causes of wildfires: Debris burning, Smoking, Campers leaving fire unattended, Kids playing with matches, Sparks from trains, Outdoor equipment, Weed whackers.”

None of these factors which have been known for years to be significantly increasing fire occurrence risks and intensity in California were addressed by Governor Brown in his recent wildfire political campaign.

Instead he blithely ignores these real world fire risk issues and tries to shift the blame away from his poor leadership in this area and onto some nebulous claim of “climate change”.

A recent WUWT article presents the scientific data which shows the climate alarmist alleged links between climate change and increasing occurrence and intensity of global wildfires are unsupported with this assessment further demonstrated by conclusions of the UN IPCC AR5 report.

The main stream media appear to be giving Brown a pass on his failure to provide meaningful and effective leadership in dealing with California’s wildfire issues and instead joining with him in trying to falsely shift blame to phony assertions that “climate change” is to blame.

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California wildfire occurrences and intensity are clearly being impacted and made worse by “man made” actions but these actions are unrelated to flawed climate change assertions and instead reflect incompetent leadership by California government as lead by Governor Brown to address real world problems that are responsible for these tragic and growing wildfires.

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92 thoughts on “Jerry Brown vetoed enhanced requirements for undergrounding power lines, blames CA wildfires on nebulous “climate change”

  1. Putting high voltage transmission lines underground involves a whole host of difficulties. There is a lot I could take issue with Jerry Brown on and although I don’t know what reasoning he used, that was likely a good call.

    • Weren’t the recent wildfires in Sonoma caused by the 14.6 kv local distribution lines snapping from falling trees? These are relatively easy to put underground and are so in most urban areas. The steel towers for high voltage interconnects are relatively insensitive to wind and falling trees and those can stay above ground. As far as Jerry Brown’s reasoning, it’s wholly absent regarding most issues, especially those supported by the green blob.

      • The cost of undergrounding the local distribution lines in other than high density areas is totally prohibitive. After looking at it, where I live, in Victoria Australia, we have gone to aerial bundled conductors which are almost as good, breaking all three phases together if a tree falls on it and blowing the protective fuses or relays pretty much immediately with minimum fire risk. Same poles and no digging, so expensive, but a fraction of the cost of undergrounding.

      • I’ve seen 12 kV power lines in rural areas, have such a transformer on a pole right outside my front gate. Never heard of 14.6 kV.

        I’m wondering what voltage the line is running down Arques avenue in front of the new Apple III complex. That line is an eyesore seen from across the street, and I can imagine what it looks like from inside the building.

        So I’m wondering how long it will be before Apple pays PG&E to put that junk underground.

        There’s an even higher voltage distribution line running close by, but I have no idea what voltage it is. I don’t think the Apple Arques line is any 12kV. A good bit higher than that I would think. I intend to ask PG&E one of these days when I go in to pay my bill.

        G

      • One of the big fires was blamed on a homeless encampment’s cooking fires. Homelessness is never good for all involved.

      • Australia has 11, 22 & 33kV local distribution depending on the age of the area and distances – newer and further get higher voltages

    • The only real difficulty with undergrounding electric distribution facilities is the cost that noone wants to pay. The CPUC only grants so much money for the Utilities to operate which must be spent on Maintenance as well as some apsects of New Construction, or undergrounding existing facilities.
      Undergrounding existing OH facilities is really a straight forward process it is simply 3 to 4 times more costly to run facilities Underground as opposed to Overhead and the expence must come from rates. The additional cost for Underground New construction like Subdivisions or new Primary extensions to serve single rural customers must be paid for by the customer.

      • All agree that it is substantially more costly to lay electrical lines under ground versus above ground. But one needs to factor in the cost of fires when making judgements about total cost effectiveness. The severity of the fire (total damages) times the probability of fire in a given area should yield numbers one can use when weight cost versus benefit.

      • While Cost Effectiveness is an issue especislly regarding potential fire damages, the local utility can only do what is accepted as financially allowable by the CPUC during the Rate Case hearings. If the CPUC doesn’t allow for the necessary $$Billions needed to Underground requred Overhead facilities in high fire areas then the Utility couldn’t afford to do the work. It is basically in the hands of the CPUC during the Rate Case Hearings.

      • Well, it has been done on a very large scale for local distribution lines in Sweden. It is expensive to do initially, but reliability goes up and the maintenance cost goes way down and large areas that previously had to be kept open can be reforested.
        This said there is no reason to put long distance high tension lines underground as some greenies want.

      • In1985 the line superintendent for Chugach Electric in Alaska told me the 1964 earthquake so completely destroyed underground electric infrastructure in some places they abandoned entire underground feeders and rebuilt them overhead. Full disclosure they didn’t have much underground in 1964. The superintendent didn’t think it was a great idea to install underground so much new construction.

    • There was evidence that the utility poles were untreated ( chemophobe CA environmentalists ), “dry-rotted” in place and needed replacement. Many poles were snapped in the high winds that preceded the fires. In many cases the downed-wire sparking initiating the fires. You still think that was a good call? Most cities have underground electrical infrastructure and in other locales concrete tunnels, with manhole access are easily maintained— so I don’t understand your logic. This would have contained most hazards.

      ALL infrastructure requires MAINTENANCE. Steel poles could have been substituted in some high risk areas avoiding burning thousands of homes and killing people—-I submit that’s cheaper than millions spent fighting brush fires, paying out insurance claims and ultimate lawsuits.

      A professional chemical engineer with experience “planning” for fire and explosive potentials.

      • For the power company, it costs more to build underground distribution lines and it costs more to repair failures and faults. The safety issues of padmount transformer cabinets and secondary junction boxes are very serious and very different from overhead facilities.

        But… For the power company the big payback in building underground in remote forest is fire survivability. The system does not burn down in a fire. It is a reliability issue. You can have customers without power for weeks. Mountains are not an easy place to build power lines.

    • The bill wouldn’t have required that the lines be undergrounded, just that the high risk areas be identified and that the local governments would be involved. Considering recent events, do you still think properly identifying the hazard was a bad idea?? Please don’t think about signing and sealing anything if this is the level of your comprehension.

      • D.J. Hawkins – Did the bill only concern IDENTIFYING the hazard? This part below seems to suggest that the proposed legislation would grant some regulatory power. Is that incorrect? (In your posting above “local governments would be involved” in what?) They are involved in something and that would seem to grant authority beyond simply identification or high risk areas. Maybe I’m wrong here, but no need for the gratitous digs.

        Consistent with Section 321.1, the commission shall develop a definition of “enhanced mitigation measures” for purposes of this subdivision in Rulemaking 15-05-006 (Filed May 7, 2015), Order Instituting Rulemaking to Develop and Adopt Fire-Threat Maps and Fire-Safety Regulations, or in another appropriate proceeding.

      • @aplanningengineer
        I quote the bill’s summary in part wherein it describes the purpose:

        …This bill would require the commission, in consultation with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, to prioritize areas in which communities are subject to conditions that increase fire hazards associated with overhead utility facilities when determining areas in which it will require enhanced mitigation measures for wildfire hazards posed by overhead electrical lines and equipment. The bill would require the commission to develop a definition of “enhanced mitigation measures” for these purposes. The bill, as part of any findings supporting a decision to approve the boundaries for those areas, would require the commission to describe how the commission incorporated the concerns of local governments, fire departments, or both in determining those boundaries.

        Notice no mention of putting lines underground, although that might eventually have been one of the developed “enhanced mitigation measures”.

      • Not quite that simple, the Senate Committee on Energy, utilities and Communication said –

        … This bill, as proposed, would prescribe undergrounding of any new construction, replacement, or required relocation of utility transmission, subtransmission and distribution systems in the high risk areas as the only eligible enhanced mitigation measure, unless a city or county vote for a different measure. While undergrounding these utility facilities may help mitigate against fire risk, unfortunately, it comes at a steep cost …

        http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billAnalysisClient.xhtml

        No real dog in this fight, I just think it’s an area where reasonable people can disagree with the overall merits. But it seems to me it does push for increased under grounding of transmission. It it worked out that way it would not be the first time seemingly benign language created undue ineffective interference with transmission line construction.

    • APE, I don’t think the wine district fires were transmission voltage line related. All the pictures I saw were broken/sagged poles for three phase distribution lines at ‘lower’ voltages maybe 3k-10k. Basically feeders from substations to pole mounted final local transformer feeders.
      Sonoma Looked like Fort Lauderdale after Wilma. The transmission lines from the Port Everglades power station to the environs transmission/distribution substations were fine (I presume designed for hurricanes). All the damage was to the distribition system. Since we don’t have much in the way of real trees here (except ficus) —its almost all various palms—most outages were snapped poles and not downed trees. The city decided to force FPL to bury what it could, and replace most wood with concrete poles where it couldn’t. Mandatory for 7,10, 25 kV distribution feeders to local substations, optional for 3kV feeders to pole mount final stepdown transformers (idea was replace any broken wood with concrete, but not necessarily pull out/replace remaining wood poles (FPL option). We had buried distribution along Galt Ocean Mile, but still lost power for 4 days in Wilma because of wooden distribution poles feeding our underground local stepdowns. Never even had a flicker with Irma thanks to the new concrete poles and better tree maintenance.repair costs.
      In newer surrounding cities like Weston built after Andrew out toward the Everglades, all distribution is underground.

    • The article says “power lines in high fire risk areas.” Seems reasonable to address some of those.

    • I looked at the legislation and it’s not clear to me how/if distribution and transmission are treated differently. The presumption that they can be treated ths same raises my concern. I was thinking transmission, which besides tremendous costs, involves significant trenching with environmental impacts.

      • In our area of Pennsylvania distribution is handled by Met-Ed while generation & transmission is supplied by any number of utilities, on our case PP&L. Perhaps a similar situation exists in CA. As a matter of interest if you decide to post here, you have to grow a thicker hide because there will be someone in this crowd who will take exception to an incomplete opinion, or alternative idea.

      • Thanks CB.

        Sometimes I learn a lot from those who take exception or challenge incomplete thoughts. Gratuitous insults though, usually hinder that process. My first inclination is to respond in kind and I am mostly outgrowing that. Maybe focusing on what is of substance and ignoring insults in the best path. For my psyche, it seems best to acknowledge the insults and say they are not needed.

        I’m pretty sure that mostly the entities that provide transmission in California are the same as provide distribution. http://www.energy.ca.gov/maps/infrastructure/transmission_lines.html

    • Southern California Edison alone has more than 37,000 miles of underground power cables in its service territory. The voltages of these power cables range between 12,000 volts to 500,000 volts. Both PG&E and SDG&E have tens of thousands of miles of underground cakes as well. Claims that costs of undergrounding cables are prohibitive or involve huge technical problems are exaggerated. Undergrounding power lines is clearly a viable option where needed and this is clearly the case in high fire risk areas.

  2. I don’t know the truth of this one, but it’s worth tossing out there – I heard through the local grapevine that the fires were started by illegal marijuana grow operations. I haven’t really had time to look into it too deeply (we’re busy as hell at work – yes, the economy’s kicking in), so it still has to fall under the category of ‘hearsay’ – but I’d be willing to bet it’s more grounded in reality than anything ‘burn it down’ Brown has to say on the subject. It’s also the sort of thing I would expect him to cover up.

    • That has tappened in other fires in the past. However in this case the fire investigation is still in progress. Earlier someone said they arrested an arsonist. They arrested a homeless man that lite a camp fire to warm up. however that was put out before it could spread. He apparently didn’t start the big fire. As to rotting power poles I have not heard that from local press and found nothing on google for Sonoma. Rotting has occurred in other places in the US and in the resent past I have not seen local power poles replaced and the replacement poles were treated to prevent rot.

      As of right now the fire investigation is still ongoing and no report has yet been released. So lets stop speculating and wait for the report.

      As to putting power lines underground I am all for it. However the cost to do that for a thousand miles of distribution would be very high. A lot of cities on the east cost have had to rebuild the grid several times due to ice storm damage. Have any of those been put underground yet?

  3. If you don’t reduce the fuel load every 5 years or so, the forest will burn sometime from something, if not humans, then lightning. you cannot ultimately rely on stopping fires from starting or on fighting them. The longer the intervals between fires, the bigger and more intense they will be.
    In eucalypt, cool weather hazard reduction burns every 5-7 years are needed to burn the trash and undergrowth. Not sure what you need to do in a pine forest.

    • clear-cut (checkerboard pattern) every 40 to 80 years. replant and spray to kill undergrowth. have roads that allow for access.

      don’t encourage firefighting to turn into a big government/business budget/profit enterprise that allows budgetary politics into the show (any forest … not just coniferous/pine).

      • The Chinese do row cutting/replanting (following the contours) so that the forest always has trees of at least 3 ages, with virtually no visual impact, but this is probably too labour intensive for a fully developed country unless some pretty clever equipment was developed.

      • Yup. My brother has a Washington univeristy PhD in ecology. Double topic was forestry management to benefit NW mountain elk and (double major PhD) how to communicate that to a skeptical public. checkerboard clear cut was the unequivical ‘experimental’ answer to first part. Use simply illustrated incontrovertible facts was answer to second part. And big private forest companies like Weyerhauser also like that answer because they don’t get visually slammed for massive clearcuts, and will replant each ‘little’ square with their latest and greatest seedlings allowing them to reliably plan the harvest across large areas long in the future. Plus, means they will be permanently maintaining at low cost all the initially costly mountain access roads.

        In the Chatahoochee National Forest near our north Georgia cabin private inholding, there is a very large (tens of square miles) contiguous section of national forest with wide (sometimes, as saplings will encroche) many miles long hiking/mountain biking trails. Some sections of those are even gravelled. They are actually fire/logging access roads cut back when those mountains were first logged before TR started buying whatever the US could to replant (a lot of the to US deeds allow subsequent logging as that reduced the US cost to purchase what was originally Cherokee, and then all private settler land—unlike many other national parks) , and ‘maintained’ (washouts, treefalls, just not saplings) by the National Park Service/Forest Service to this day to facilitate eventual checkerboard logging per the way the Chatahooche National Forest was first created to solve a massive private clearcut disaster..

    • Yeah, it is bad wildlands management. A good many, if not all, Mediterranean ecologies are fire adapted, and suppressing fire only makes the eventual fire worse. Either fire, or mechanical clearing is needed.

      • During the Depression of the 30s by father worked clearing fire trails and utility ROWs for the Civil Conservation Corps in Pennsylvania. I still have a letter he received acknowledging his great work ethic. Many of the trails ultimately were commandeered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and are used as Hunter Access and for emergencies. ATVs are unwelcome for multiple reasons not the least of which is the possibility of initiating a fire. The Game Commission is our front line to protect our State Game Lands and Public Forests. By the way, hundreds of thousands of PA and out-of-state Hunters help pay for this service through licensing fees.
        When he was still alive he used to reminisce about this being the fondest experience of his life, camping in the wilderness and enjoying the camaraderie of his fellow workers.

    • Decrease the tree density is also key for pine/fir forests. We require replanting the trees after logging (in Oregon at least) and the trees are packed tight. So tight in fact that within 10 years you literally can’t walk through the trees without a lot of effort if it isn’t essentially impossible all together. This, of course, makes it extremely easy to spread fire from tree to tree.

      Forest managers on private ground often go thin the trees, this helps but they are still more densely packed than a old, natural growth of trees. Other forests are not managed at all, this is generally land not owned by the logging companies such as state, federal and private land where they were sold the timber by a private land owner. Otherwise, a company like Weyerhauser does a much better job of managing their privately held timberlands than uncle Sam or John Doe who are just out to make a buck off a single sale of timber. Weyerhauser and other timber companies are in fact farmers who do their best manage their crop.

      • There’s method in that madness. Planting conifers close together is a good idea. The trees grow and add lower branches until the longest branches merge, and cut off any further sunlight on the ground.
        At that point the trees stop adding branches and simply keep on growing., making more and better lumber in a shorter time.

        And yes some will tell you that trees don’t grow up; they just grow out. So as soon as a shoot emerges from the ground into sunlight is just spurts up to 200 feet, and then starts growing outward so the branches are born at the same height that they die at (when harvested).

        I don’t think so. I’ve seen inside some of the Oregon Pine forests growing in New Zealand (that’s what they call Douglas fur down under.).

        G

  4. Seems to me, that in the litigious USA someone ought to find a way for suing Brown for endangerment.
    Also, it occurs to me, how the hell can AGW cause a forest fire to be more intense?

  5. You can’t build an 800 home development in the middle of over over-grown desert scrub and not expect something bad to happen at some point. Why don’t local governments in California require some kind of remediation in those areas prior to construction, and require deep wells, and diesel generator pumping systems to provide perimeter defense? Oh, it’s because they would need to cut back on the amenities in a 4200 square foot home to afford that stuff.

  6. Simply put … Jerry Brown WANTS California to BURN. Every conflagration is an ‘opportunity’ for Jerry to push his Global Warming narrative. Push his carbon taxes. Push his high speed train wreck. Push expensive ‘alternative’ energy. Push electric automobiles. Jerry cheers every charred house pet, and cheers every firefighters DEATH. Jerry NEVER speaks about or questions the ORIGIN or CAUSE of the Fires burning California. Jerry has no intellectual curiosity … he only has his orthodoxy … which he pushes with the fervor of a Jesuit Seminarian. Shame on you Jerry. Shame on you for NOT caring about the REAL cause of these unnatural Fires. Shame. Shame will follow you into your grave.

      • I would have accepted the invitation when Linda Ronstadt was in her prime … :) not to mention me, in mine. But then, I was a young slightly hippyish libertarian … then naturally evolved into a conservative. Jerry never made the jump into adulthood … let alone emotional maturity (judging by his last 60 Minutes ranting and raving.

      • Carbon emissions from Forrest fires don’t count…wood fire is Good Carbons as it comes from renewable sources. People breath, fossil fuel, and feed stock animal flatus are bad carbons.

    • yep, to put him back into proper context

      ” (our manipulation of the general public for our own personal gain, with respect to) climate change has us on the road to hell.”

  7. Jerry Brown was a disaster on California when he was first governor in (1975 – 1983). I have limited sympathy for California since they elected him governor again. To put it bluntly he hasn’t changed and there was no reason to expect him to be any different.

  8. He’s a climate warrior. If he says it’s black in one statement then says it’s white in another, those are not contradictory for a climate warrior.

  9. Maybe Moonbeam accidently got too close to one of those quantum levitating objects without a clear source for a strong magnetic field that have been confirmed to exist in our atmosphere.

    • RWturner December 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm Interesting. Tucker Carlson interviewed this pilot tonight 12-20-2017. The pilot explained the object was matching the fighters circular orbit on the opposite side. The pilot decided to cut through the circle the object (with no heat signature) accelerated in 1 or 2 seconds out of sight. Visibility was 10 miles

  10. Mayor Jerry Brown of Oakland lived in the under-regulated warehouse district that later caught fire and killed a number of young people.

  11. . . . October 1999 I was in Milpitas California, at a company named Hybrid Communications learning about their wireless WAN technology and it’s O.S.S.’s . At noon one day we stepped outside the front door and the class instructor pointed up to the green hills and said, “see all those houses and mansions they’er building up there they are all going to burn, those green hills turn brown in the summer and the dead grass builds up over the years then grass fires sweep through the hills and those hills are black and chard”.
    Ignorant people building where they should`nt !!

    https://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2Fe%2Feb%2FMilpitas_mtns2.JPG%2F250px-Milpitas_mtns2.JPG&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FMilpitas%2C_California&docid=Hhjqr9qEvY6SvM&tbnid=KgRAKDq84t-zTM%3A&vet=1&w=250&h=187&bih=618&biw=980&ved=0ahUKEwjkxKj6g5TYAhVk7YMKHXeECxgQwJUBCAMwAA&iact=c&ictx=1

    • The hills still look the same today. No houses on them The hills are in the state park system. Mud slides do occur occasionally in the winter so the soil is too unstable for new homes. However the homes do come right up to the base of the hills. Since no one lives on the hills and there are no power lines and every few trees, there have been veery few fires in the area.

  12. Jerry Brown is doing what most all politicians do: take every event which makes the news and gets people concerned and use it to push policies they’ve already decided to pursue for whatever other reasons. The interesting question is whether he really believes what he’s pushing. Sadly, I see no reason to doubt his sincerity.

    This is not a uniquely Democrat trait. Take the most recent example of the Amtrak derailment in Spokane: President Trump pounced on it as an example of why we need to “fix our infrastructure”. The tracks were new; the train was going 70+ MPH in a section designed for 30. This was a human failure, not an infrastructure one. But Trump has promoted a major infrastructure initiative since the campaign, so he will use anything he can to push it through. The even more recent total power failure at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport makes a much better argument though.

    • Agreed, Mr. Watt … what is that called? Bias confirmation, followed by political pandering. Shall I be the one to remind President Trump that President Obama spent $ 1.7 Trillion (that’s TRillion with a ‘T’) on “infrastructure” projects … which was really a transfer of Federal funds to prop-up State and local governments who would otherwise have had to lay-off all their employees (like the private sector) during our last re(de)pression. Few ‘shovel ready’ projects ever got built … but lots of public payrolls were maintained while the Titanic was sinking. Too bad … because all of government should have SHRUNK (shrinkage!) in the same proportion to private industry. All I can hope for is that President Trump actually KNOWS how to build REAL things (with MY “infrastructure” dollar) unlike our former paper cut-out of a Manchurian President.

      • I don’t know if it’s part of the Obama infrastructure program, but what I see around the Atlanta area is a lot of places ripping up main streets through towns and putting in median strips with real bricks, and real brick pedestrian crossings. Resulting in worse traffic flow and less durable paving. This is one thing that concerns me about Trump’s plans — it is all too easy to spend arbitrarily large amounts of money for little or no benefit, except for the politically-connected contractors and unions.

        Some things I’d like to see done in a real infrastructure package:

        1) Hardening power and communication grids nationwide. Electrical power is an essential service; modern urban areas quickly become uninhabitable without it. With or without “climate change” there will still be hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Let’s focus on keeping essential services up regardless.

        2) Finish Plant Vogtle nuclear reactors. They’re behind schedule and over budget and most of the fault lies with the contractor. Send in people who know what they’re doing and get those reactors completed, certified and online. In the most optimistic scenario, they will probably never pay back the final construction cost, but it’s better to finish them and get some benefit than kill the project now and get nothing.

        3) Upgrade air traffic control systems and procedures. The FAA has been talking about and promising this for decades, but they never get it done. We need to be able to handle more flights at existing airports.

        4) Expand capabilities of secondary airports outside of major metropolitan areas so they can land larger planes when necessary. Sooner or later you always need a backup airport.

        5) Increase reliable power generation capacity nationwide. CCGT is the best technology at this point in time. We have to build something to replace the coal plants which will be retired in the next 10 years and solar+wind just won’t cut it and until we have better proven designs, nuclear is too expensive.

        6) Continue to improve internet service and availability. Promote work from home policies to reduce demands on surface transportation. You can get greater, faster and cheaper reductions in rush hour traffic this way as opposed to a mass transit solution. I don’t see why we can’t also achieve a “school from home” practice at least one day a week, certainly at the high school level. It is many order of magnitudes cheaper to push photons through fiber-optic cables than to move people in cars, buses or trains. Let’s see just how much physical transportation can be replaced with telepresence technology.

        That’s off the top of my head.

    • In Trump’s semi defense, initial reports came out just saying money was spent to improve the track so the train could do 80mph, everyone assumed it could do 80mph on that section. It wasn’t until the NTSB got on site and pointed out the 30mph speed sign that everyone, including the press, started pointing fingers at the engineer.

      Where Trump got it wrong was ignoring the reported $181 million in improvements.

    • >>
      Take the most recent example of the Amtrak derailment in Spokane
      <<

      Spokane is the wrong city and the wrong side of the state. The accident occurred near DuPont, Wa over I-5 which is between Tacoma, Wa and Olympia, Wa. Spokane, Wa is in the Eastern part of the State on I-90.

      Jim

      • You are correct. I knew “Tacoma” but my fingers typed Spokane. My wife and I had a snack at a Starbucks just a mile or so north from the derailment site in October while driving from Seattle to Portland. I have a cousin who lives in Spokane and that’s probably why I conflated the two.

    • Amtrak line lacked Positive Train Control safety system, official says
      In 2008, Congress legislated a deadline for Amtrak and other rail companies and agencies to install PTC by the end of 2015. But due to the price tag – reportedly more than $22 billion over 20 years – the implementation of the system has been delayed.
      https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxnews.com/us/2017/12/19/amtrak-line-lacked-positive-train-control-safety-system-official-says.amp.html

    • In fact President Trump is correct. That was a new high speed train and it should have reduced to a crawl to use the poor infrastructure of a raiway line built for older trains. In other countries ‘high speed train’ means average speeds well in excess of 100mph. Having tried the fifteen hour Amtrak service from Florida to DC, I can assure you the infrastructure needs modernization.

    • Politicians’ game is to distract from their failures by creating and pretending to solve new problems. You can bet that carbon tax monies will be used to offset the looming state pension crisis.

    • Yep. link

      I can see disaster relief if the disaster is a surprise. If people build on a flood plain, they shouldn’t get relief when they get flooded. If they build in stupid places in California, they shouldn’t get relief when wildfires burn their houses. Stupidity should not be rewarded.

      Australia has a lot of experience with bush fires but even they have a fair dose of government stupidity.

      Anger at government policies stopping residents from cutting down trees and clearing scrub to protect their properties is already apparent. “We’ve lost two people in my family because you dickheads won’t cut trees down,” Warwick Spooner told Nillumbik Mayor Bo Bendtsen at a meeting on Tuesday night. link

      No amount of natural beauty is worth people’s lives. The fire code should trump almost everything else. If unsullied nature is the utmost importance, then people shouldn’t be allowed to build there.

      • CB, seconded in the strongest possible language. Faux sympathy begats more stupidity. In the old days, Darwin woild have solved the problem selectively.

      • oz. prevents clearing of property because the trees were counted as part of the official carbon budget. there was a. story awhile. back about farmers getting fined big time over this.

  13. To put things in perspective:

    «Historically, fire has been a frequent and major ecological factor in North America. In the conterminous United States during the preindustrial period (1500- 1800), an average of 145 million acres burned annually. Today only 14 million acres (federal and non-federal) are burned annually by wildland fire from all ignition sources. Land use changes such as agriculture and urbanization are responsible for 50 percent of this 10-fold decrease. Land management actions including land fragmentation and fire suppression are responsible for the remaining 50 percent.

    This decrease in wildland fire has been a destabilizing influence in many fire-adapted ecosystems such as ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, pinyon/juniper woodlands, southern pinelands, whitebark pine, oak savanna, pitch pine, aspen, and tallgrass prairie.

    Fuels increased and understory vegetation became more dense. As a result, those wildland fires that did occur were larger and more severe than historical fires.

    Eliminating fire also affected individual plant species. For example, Hessl and Spackman (1995) found that, of the 146 threatened, endangered, and rare plant species found in the conterminous U. S. for which there is conclusive information on fire effects, 135 species benefit from wildland fire or are found in fire-adapted ecosystems.»
    Ref.: REVIEW AND UPDATE OF THE 1995 FEDERAL WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT POLICY

    I would not trust Governor Brown on anything important.

  14. “THE 2000 FIRES
    More acres burned in 2000 than in any other year in the last half-century. By mid- December, approximately 4.8 million acres had been burned by wildland fires and 1.0 million acres by prescribed fires on federal lands alone.
    With a better understanding of the magnitude of the fire management problem, the federal land management agencies are now planning aggressive actions to mitigate the situation. The USDA Forest Service has proposed fuels management treatments (prescribed fire and mechanical) of up to 3 million acres annually. Department of the Interior bureaus and the Department of Defense have also proposed similar activities.

    Fiscal Year 2001 fire management appropriations for the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service have been increased to begin to address these landscape stewardship responsibilities.”
    REVIEW AND UPDATE OF THE 1995 FEDERAL WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT POLICY

    I think Mr. Crywolf Brown should have focused on real problems rather than imaginary ones.

  15. I only just learned that “California Über Alles” by the Dead Kennedys was actually about Jerry Brown. And that was released in 1979.

  16. “Instead he blithely ignores these real world fire risk issues and tries to shift the blame away from his poor leadership in this area and onto some nebulous claim of “climate change”.

    A recent WUWT article presents the scientific data which shows the climate alarmist alleged links between climate change and increasing occurrence and intensity of global wildfires are unsupported”

    Larry Kummer posts what I would call a politically motivated headline, Anthony re-posts and now its quoted as being “scientific data”.

    And what you end up with is this sort of deludion:

    Kenji December 20, 2017 at 12:34 pm
    Simply put … Jerry Brown WANTS California to BURN.

    Well done.

  17. California wildfires this year are likely to cost a $billion dollars or more in losses and fire fighting costs.

    These losses could have been reduced or eliminated by much more aggressive action by state, county and cities government working in conjunction to address high risk fires areas and steps needed to reduce and prioritize these risks.

    These actions could have included targeted undergrounding of power lines and related equipment, aggressive actions to trim and/or remove excessive growth of brush and trees, and increased fire risk assessments on an on going and coordinated process involving all responsible government organizations.

    Instead excuses were offered by top government officials including Governor Brown that in some completely undefined way “climate change” was responible for driving these wildfires while tangible and actionable efforts went unaddressed.

    Critical time was lost, meaningful and coordinated actions steps were not prioritized or taken in a timely fashion and the government agencies that shoul have been expediting these actions delayed making key decisions.

    The action taken on December 14, 2017 by the CPUC allowing utilities to take actions to cut and remove excessive growth of brush and trees that could damage damage power lines and equipment was late and not nearly comprehensive enough.

    Much more needs to be done. Governor Brown is significantly deficient in providing meaningful and effective leadership in addressing the states critical wildfire issues because he is lost in a phony world of scientifically unsupported “climate change” alarmism.

  18. “At a UN sponsored panel on air pollution in September 2015 Governor Brown claimed that climate change was making California fires more frequent and intense. The conference failed to support Brown’s claim that climate change was driving the states wildfire growth and instead noted other “man made” factors as being responsible for the increased intensity of recent fires.”

    Link or reference please. Please what was the name of this “UN sponsored Panel”. Is there a URL to report that confirms this? The URL to a LA Times given in the quote above does not give this information.

    A comment to all writers for wattsupwiththat:
    In my opinion this posting or the information in it (specifically the section quoted above) is not of sufficient quality to pass on to skeptical warmists. Whats up with that?

    • It took around 30 seconds to find this link to an LA times story: http://beta.latimes.com/politics/la-me-pol-ca-climate-jerry-brown-doomsayer-20151210-story.html and this one https://www.wired.com/2015/12/california-marches-into-paris-to-fight-the-climate-apocalypse/

      LE BOURGET, FRANCE — Hall 2 at the Paris climate talks is what I like to call the Warehouse of Nations. It is where each country maintains a space for public relations and a base of operations. The pavilion for the United States of America is exactly what you’d expect: really big, and right next to the damn front door.

      Onstage at the pavilion, California governor Jerry Brown is sandwiched between the Saudi oil czar and US energy chief. Sweden’s top energy minister is also there, but the UK’s representative couldn’t make it. Brown is not like the others. For one, he is charismatic. Despite a habit of answering questions with circuitous, grunt-filled, statistic-peppered answers, the audience loves him: People laugh when he speaks, and leave when he passes the mic. Two, he represents a state—or subnation, in UN speak—not a sovereign nation. Three, perhaps more than anyone else on or off the stage at the Paris climate talks, he is the person most politically capable of taking a bite out of climate.
      Jerry Brown addressing COP21. You may have read about that UN Conference; they developed The Paris Accord that President Trump has recently said the USA will not support.

      Perhaps the UN COP21 conference was not sufficiently publicized for you?

    • sW: Yeah, without a link, you can’t tell if JB said this to a UN panel in 2015, or if it was one of the thousands of other occasions JB has told the same lie to a different audience. And without a link, you can’t tell which of the dozens of UN conferences (held for the purpose of propping up the lie, and in spite of that) failed to support JB’s (and Obama’s, and Holdren’s) lie that climate change made wildfires (or drought) worse. I won’t bother with links either, because if you’re not already aware that JB tells this lie to just about every group he addresses, and you’re not aware that non-skeptical warmists (at the UN or wherever) have failed to find any evidence or observation supporting a link between CC and natural disasters getting worse, then no link will convince you. One thing about skeptics who are not anonymous trolls- if you place bad quality information before them at this site, it will draw fire. So far, you are the only one who thinks these two well known facts require a link. I won’t tell you my opinion of that, the moderator has enough to do.

  19. Dear Governor Brown. Why are the homes that are built in California’s fire prone areas so flammable? Surely the building codes there are inadequate. Whom do you intend to blame for this?
    (Certainly not the California Government.)

  20. Why in Hell doesn’t California cut a number of fire breaks into the area that repetitively breaks out in wildfires? Couldn’t cost more than the bullet train Governor Brown is touting.

  21. PG&E today announced significant changes in their fiscal outlook, no dividends, etc, etc. Reason they believe they will be held financially responsible for the fires in California this year. Of course residents can’t sue the state where the real fault lies. California is a beautiful state it is so sad it is so poorly governed, if one can call what they do out their governance.

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