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California Wildfires. (Photo: youtube)

A Better Way to Combat Climate Change and Wildfires

Californians pay 55% more in electric bills for green energy

By James Gallagher, October 8, 2020 11:24 am

California Wildfires. (Photo: youtube)

The usual suspects are advocating the same tired climate policies while California burns.  Governor Newsom seemed to echo those same remedies when he used my wildfire-ravaged district as the backdrop to pronounce a “climate damn emergency.”  

I humbly suggest that there is a better way to combat both climate change and wildfires.

We hear that we need to fast-track a higher renewable energy standard (RPS) in California.  Doing so will substantially increase consumer costs.  Right now, Californians pay 55% more in electric bills for green energy. At the same time, 80% of our power is already zero-emission when you count hydro and nuclear power. 

However, California policy doesn’t count hydroelectric and nuclear sources as renewable and, in fact, is proposing to shut down Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which provides 10% of our state’s electricity.  This will have to be made up with even greater investments in unreliable wind and solar power or by purchasing out-of-state hydro.  So how much more should Californians pay for what is already the greenest power in the nation?

We hear calls to make Californians pay even more taxes into the cap-and-trade fund.  That fund currently holds billions of dollars and 25% of it is earmarked for High Speed Rail – a project that continues to have financial problems and promises a murky reduction in carbon emissions.

More radical proposals in California include shuttering all natural gas plants, converting all houses from gas heating to electricity, and electrifying our ports.  Newsom last week even signed an Executive Order banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles in 2035.  In addition to being bad policy, all of this would come at monumental cost to Californians at time when we face economic devastation and the highest poverty rate in the nation.  It would also further destabilize our power sources while drastically increasing the electrical demand of our grid: a recipe for major rolling blackouts.

The bottom line is California has done the most to reduce carbon emissions at great cost to its citizens.  It is estimated that our carbon policies are already costing the average Californian $1,235 a year.   Doubling down on these policies is the wrong approach.

More importantly, not one of these solutions will stop a devastating wildfire from occurring.  The 2018 fires alone emitted 45 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere, nine times more than we reduced carbon emissions over the past few years.

There is a smarter climate policy: increased investment in forestry management.   We took the first steps a few weeks before the fires when Governor Newsom and the Trump Administration announced a new accord with the federal government to do more management on federal public lands.  Partnering with the federal government, we can make a major public investment and leverage private partnerships to treat millions of acres of our forested lands.

With this partnership, we can create a tremendous amount of jobs where people really need it.  With new technology and legislation pending in Congress by Senators Feinstein and Daines, we can kick start cleaner biomass energy that will sustain our grid while making our forests healthy carbon sinks.

Remember those cap and trade funds?  Over the last two years, we have used $250 million a year of cap and trade funds to do more thinning, vegetation removal and prescribed burns.  Let’s double or triple that amount this year.  The money is there and the Legislative Analyst’s Office has shown that dollar for dollar, it reduces more carbon than other measures we have taken.    

It’s not just money we need to invest.  We also need to remove regulatory barriers such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which unnecessarily delays or prevent these projects from happening – projects like the one planned for Berry Creek this year before it was wiped out by the Bear Fire.

Let’s make this California’s Wildfire-Climate New Deal, by promoting a comprehensive forestry management strategy that will reduce carbon and protect our communities from wildfire.  It’s a better climate policy for all of California.

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6 thoughts on “A Better Way to Combat Climate Change and Wildfires

  1. While there is no such thing as man made climate change we do need to manage the forests a lot better. How many millions of tons of CO2 are released from these wildfires King Noisome?

  2. If you really believed in Climate Change, why would you not be using the funds generated to address it?

    Is anyone else tired of schemes that don’t work and were never designed to work, but more money just keeps getting thrown in? Since the Dem’s and their acolytes have controlled the state government for so long just think of the corruption that is never discovered

    All of the talk of what Trumps done wrong – not one media challenge to King Newsom actions – do you ever notice that he just keeps creating new exec orders but nothing improves?

    1. ‘Is anyone else tired of schemes that don’t work and were never designed to work, but more money just keeps getting thrown in?’ that is the basis of my voting. no, you can’t have more money unless your bright idea shows prodigious results. i want to tell the politicians to work their schemes with the money they already get. we have to budget; so should they. i feel like they try to win votes by giving more handouts. when history has had over 50% of the population on aid (not counting the mandated federally subsidized health care ) … well, work it out or stop making empty claims with our dollars we give you to help with infrastructure.

  3. The California’s Wildfire Climate New Deal, sounds rational and reasonable.
    James Gallagher, you continue to show great leadership and resolve. You should consider running for Governor.
    Thank You for sharing.

  4. Holy shit. Do people have any history including the rep who wrote the editorial? Diablo was being shut down because half its power was no longer needed and even more so, it would have cost nearly $7 billion to replace its antiquated and illegal OTC cooling system. Its nearly 50 year old design meant that it was and is unsafe especially due to its location near an active fault line. But one people say solar and wind are unreliable they should know better but clear want to misinform. These sources are now cheaper than solar but when combined with the growing use of battery backup – the socalled unreliability dies. Would be why most conservatives have been dominant in taking advantage in Solar because owning your own power makes sense vs using an ancient grid that is in many cases up to a century old!???

    The Green plan to phase out ICE – gas powered cars is a huge challenge for sure maybe people like the first comment wants to deny the growing climate crisis, but over 70% of the state doesn’t. Staying in a democracy means your gonna have to go along with what other people have already agreed to do.
    Oh, and if you didn’t know it solar and wind have already produced far more new power than Diablo and continue to bring more online. I could get into even more “too complicated” for 5th grade reading level types that have nothing better to do, but that’s what happens when people can find media outlets from out of state lying or misinforming people in tribal bubbles. Sorry, trolling here doesn’t help…

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