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Bad Enviro Politics Destroying California

Bad Enviro Politics Destroying California

Massive California Apple Fire forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes, wildfires spreading rapidly, escaping to save their lives, destroyed silhouette, natural calamity - c. Aug. 2020. (Gajendra Bhati/Dreamstime)

By Monday, 14 September 2020 10:42 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Fueled by a long-time buildup of old growth plants and shrubs, fires have already incinerated millions of Western forestland acres, California Gov. Gavin Newsome now proposes a solution, "Never have I felt more of a sense of obligation . . . to face climate change head on!"

Yes, as with Gov. Jerry Brown before him, Gov. Newsom blames climate change for the fires. During his 2018 campaign, he previously said, "The science is clear — increased fire threat due to climate change is becoming a fact of life in our state. Drier, longer summers combined with unpredictable wet winters have created dangerous fire conditions."

As for correlating burning of acreage to weather data, there appears to be little link to climate change. Unlike much of the American South and East, California has a distinct wet season, with Pacific storms rolling in by November or December and wrapping up by March. In even the wettest years (2016-17 was the wettest in 122 years) much of California is typically bone-dry by late fall.

It’s not climate change that’s horrifically burning up the forests, killing people, and destroying hundreds of homes. Rather, it’s decades of environmental politics.

Inept California government policies, along with a patchwork gauntlet of federal, state and local jurisdictional regulatory policies, procedures and inactions, have interfered with, misdirected, wasted and delayed essential forest fire protection and intervention measures identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) and California Legislative Analysts Office.

In 2019, Cal Fire identified 35 priority projects immediately needed to help reduce public fire safety risks, including removal of hazardous dead trees, vegetation clearing of fuel breaks and defensible spaces, and creation of ingress and egress corridors.

With no gratitude to environmental regulation strangulation, the California timber harvest infrastructure is now less than one-third of what it was three decades ago.

Accordingly, even if politicians were sincere in wanting to protect public forests, there are few people remaining to manage them.

For example, as I discussed in this column in November of 2018, a series of restrictions were placed on logging to protect the Spotted Owl in the early 1990s turned out to be far more complicated than expected.

The owl numbers continuing to decline — even after the California timber harvest plummeted — due to predation from other raptors.

Similar problems exist in other Western states including Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Washington where wildfires have also burned millions of acres, indiscriminately killed people and wildlife, and grossly polluted air in towns and cities for weeks on end.

One of the most recent and dangerous began outside Ashland, Oregon which prompted evacuation orders in and around that city of 82,000 people and destroyed at least 600 homes.

Regarding those wildfires that began explosively raging across the West Coast last week, there is clearly a great deal of shared state and federal responsible blame to go around.

By federal law, states are only legally responsible for responding to wildfires that begin on nonfederal (state, local, and private) lands except for those protected by federal agencies under cooperative agreements.

The federal government, through the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Park Service, owns about 19 million acres of the total 33 million of forestlands in the state of California (approximately 57%).

Of the rest, private nonindustrial entities including Native American tribes and individuals own about one-quarter (8 million acres) of forestland; industrial entities — primarily timber companies — own about 14% (4.5 million acres); while state and local governments own only about 3% (1 million acres).

Tragically, California has lots more pressing problems than climate change . . . a state that – like the rest of the country - is going through an economically and socially devastating covid-ravaged year.

Then add self-inflicted electricity shortages plaguing struggling businesses and homebound residents during a predictable mid-summer heatwave.

In a serious climate of confusion, the Golden State offers a glimpse of what the rest of us will encounter by following its overheated alarm-based Green New Deal energy regulation policies.

In 2018, California enacted a law requiring that half of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2025, 60% by 2030, and all from carbon-neutral sources by 2050.

Then on Aug. 13 and 14 of this year, rolling blackouts left large populations in the dark as power demand outstripped supplies.

The August rolling blackouts were different from widespread past intentional pre-emptive power shutoffs initiated when strong winds increased the risk of power lines sparking wildfires.

Last month alone, California battled 367 known fires sparked by Tropical Storm Fausto.

Under "typical" circumstances, California has historically relied heavily during shortfalls on power imported from neighboring states as well as natural gas-fired plants capable of starting up quickly when needed.

This time, however, neighboring Western states were also realizing rises in usage due to extreme heat, with less excess electricity to spare.

California’s Public Utilities Commission warned last year that the state could face an energy shortage as early as 2021 on hot summer evenings.

They beat that forecast by a year.

Nevertheless, once again Gov. Newsom cluelessly blamed the state’s grid operator and utility regulator in a letter for "failure to predict these shortages is unacceptable particularly given our state’s work to combat climate change."

The charge incredulously added, "These blackouts, which occurred without prior warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting the nation’s largest and most innovative state."

So okay . . . innovative maybe. But not very smart.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. Larry has written more than 700 articles for Newsmax and Forbes and is the author of several books. Included are: "How Everything Happened, Including Us" (2020), "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.

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LarryBell
In 2018, California enacted a law requiring that half of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2025, 60% by 2030, and all from carbon-neutral sources by 2050. It’s not climate change that’s burning up forests, it’s environmental politics.
newsom, oregon, western, states, blm
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2020-42-14
Monday, 14 September 2020 10:42 AM
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