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Washington September 15, 2020 – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released a list of endorsements for the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act, a bipartisan bill Feinstein introduced with Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to help protect communities from catastrophic wildfire.

            The bill would implement wildfire mitigation projects, sustain healthier forests that are more resilient to climate change and provide important energy and retrofitting assistance to businesses and residences to mitigate future risks from wildfire.

            The bill will be considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on September 16, 2020.

            “Six of the 20 largest wildfires in California history have burned this year,” said Feinstein. “It’s clear that unprecedented fire seasons are becoming our new normal. Our approach to fighting these fires – and doing a better job at preventing them from growing out of control – must adapt, and adapt quickly.

            “We have to clear dead and dying trees that fuel the spread of these infernos. We have to do a better job of fireproofing homes and communities. And we have to better prepare for power shutoffs that are increasingly necessary during high winds. The longer we wait to make these changes, the harder and more devastating these fire seasons will be.

            “I’m pleased to see so many organizations and public figures have endorsed this bill and are ready to do what it takes to better protect our communities and save lives.”

Governor Gavin Newsom said, “The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 would bolster the State’s emergency response to wildfires burning in California and support impacted residents across the state by advancing needed fire resilience efforts.

            “I am pleased that this legislation would also strengthen our recently secured partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies in addressing the risk of wildfires and improving the health and resilience of our forests and communities statewide.”

Full text of Newsom’s letter of endorsement is available here.

            The bipartisan Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Actis supported by the following:

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom
  • California Farm Bureau Federation
  • Rural County Representatives of California
  • Butte County
  • Contra Costa County
  • Fresno County
  • Humboldt County
  • Inyo County
  • Lassen County
  • City of Long Beach
  • City of Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles County
  • Mendocino County
  • Placer County
  • San Bernardino
  • City of San Diego
  • San Diego County
  • Santa Barbara County Fire Department
  • City of Thousand Oaks
  • City of Torrance
  • Tulare County
  • Tuolumne County
  • City of Ventura
  • Ventura County
  • Ventura County Fire Department
  • Yuba County
  • American Forest Resource Council
  • Congressional Sportsmen Foundation
  • Edison Electric Institute
  • Liberty Utilities
  • National Association of Conservation Districts
  • National Association of State Foresters
  • National Water Resources Association
  • Northwest Public Power Association
  • PG&E
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District
  • Sempra Energy’s California Utilities
  • Sequoia Riverlands Trust
  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • Alaska Farm Bureau
  • Arizona Farm Bureau Federation
  • California Farm Bureau Federation
  • Colorado Farm Bureau
  • Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation
  • Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
  • Montana Farm Bureau Federation
  • Nevada Farm Bureau
  • New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau
  • Oregon Farm Bureau
  • Utah Farm Bureau Federation
  • Washington Farm Bureau
  • Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation

Additionally, the bill is supported by the following conservation organizations:

  • American Woodcock Society
  • Boone and Crockett Club
  • Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
  • Mule Deer Foundation
  • National Deer Alliance
  • National Wild Turkey Federation
  • Quality Deer Management Association
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Ruffed Grouse Society
  • Wildlife Management Institute
  • Wildlife Mississippi
  • Wild Sheep Foundation

            The House companion bill is being led by Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and is cosponsored by Representatives John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), TJ Cox (D-Calif.), Josh Harder (D-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), and Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.).

Background

            Following are the key provisions in the bill:

  • Provide new authority for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to work collaboratively with state partners in the West to implement wildfire mitigation projects. Projects are restricted to areas most in need of restorative forest management.
  • Allow disaster mitigation and preparedness funding to be used to reduce the wildfire risk posed by utility lines and expedite permitting for the installation of wildfire detection equipment (such as sensors, cameras, and other relevant equipment) and expand the use of satellite data to assist wildfire response.
  • Create a program to incentivize the collection of woody biomass and help expand processing facilities to make biomass more economically viable.
  • Create a forest workforce development program to train a new generation of workers to help address wildfire and forest health.
  • Require the establishment of a fire center in the Western United States to train new firefighters and forestry professionals on the beneficial uses of prescribed fires, a far more cost-effective method of stopping fires than mechanical thinning or firefighting.
  • Lift the current export ban on unprocessed timber from federal lands in the west for trees that are dead or dying, or if there is no demand in the United States.  California currently has nearly 150 million dead and dying trees on thousands of acres that are at risk of wildfire.
  • Expand the Energy Department’s weatherization program to allow for the retrofit of homes to make them more resilient to wildfire through the use of fire-resistant building materials and other methods.
  • Establish a new grant program to assist critical facilities like hospitals and police stations become more energy efficient and better adapted to function during power shutoffs. The new program would also provide funding for the expanded use of distributed energy infrastructure, including microgrids.