California SB 901 - Wildfire Preparedness and Response

California Senate Bill 901 will support the state’s adaptation and resilience to increasingly frequent and extreme wildfires. Reducing forest fuel loads with thinning and prescribed fire, reduce fire danger in hundreds of communities around the state in high-risk areas, and climate adaptation research are primary focal measures. $200 million a year through 2024, or $1billion, will be allocated to fund grants to fire departments, cities, counties and nonprofit organizations. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) will distribute the funding, which will come from California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). 

Among many other mandates, CalFire will create a Wildfire Resilience Program to support non-industrial timberland owners with wildfire resilience efforts by providing technical assistance on fuels reduction, forest health, reforestation and more. Also, an exemption to timber harvest regulations is being made for private landowners to remove trees, to reduce their risk of wildfire.

The legislation requires the state Air Resources Board to develop a standardized approach to quantifying the direct carbon emissions and decay from fuel reduction activities, and quantify the emissions attributed to wildfire statewide.

SB 901 also creates a process for electrical utilities to seek approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to recoup costs from ratepayers in addition to utility shareholders, for 2017 and future wildfires. The Commission will determine whether a utility company behaved responsibly, complied with new plans to prevent fires or if extreme conditions exacerbated the destruction - when assessing damages and allocating cost shares. Electrical utilities are now required to create and implement wildfire mitigation plans as well.

Publication Date: September 21, 2018

Related Organizations:

  • California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire)
  • State of California

Sectors:

Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Laws

States Affected:

Impacts:

  • Wildfires

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