ICYMI: Fox & Hounds: "Climate Change, Forest Management and Wildfires"

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

By John Moorlach
State Senator representing the 37th Senate District

Gov. Gavin Newsom likes to beat Californians over the head that every ill under his administration is due to climate change, including wildfires. But what you will not find him saying is that, while he is spending billions of dollars to have California singlehandedly eliminate global greenhouse gases, he and fellow Democrats have spent relative pennies to deal with mitigating the effects of it.  …

Underinvestment in and poor management of our forests is a massive contributing factor to the wildfires this state is experiencing. …

You don’t hear that from the governor, Democrats and California’s environmentalists.

For years, Newsom – and Gov. Jerry Brown before him – talked about managing our forests and preventing wildfires, but it’s been more lip service than actual deeds.   

Experts – and Republicans – have been saying for years that funding from the state budget for forest management was critical.  …

Before the past few years, Democrats prioritized expanding parks and buying more state lands.  For example, in 2016, out of the $900 million total cap-and-trade revenues, Democrats only dedicated $25 million for vegetation management projects and other actions to improve forest health and reduce the risk and intensity of catastrophic wildfires. Yet that same year, they also chose to spend $15 million on urban forestry projects and $80 million on “urban greening” projects in mostly Democrat-run cities, to create new or revitalize existing urban parks and recreational opportunities.  

Democrats have had the chance to prioritize forest-health activities and have chosen not to.  They have also mismanaged the state’s cap-and-trade revenues in past years, ignoring that wildfires are one of the state’s largest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. …

Further, Democrats have squandered billions of cap-and-trade dollars on the high-speed rail (HSR) project, which will not realize any emission benefits for decades.  …

If we are serious about climate change and putting a stop to these deadly wildfires, then we need to focus on the problem, …

Yet California Democrats and the governor don’t seem to be worried about this huge threat to both public safety and the environment. They don’t support real GHG emission reductions, instead using the bulk of cap-and-trade revenues as a slush fund for HSR and their other pet projects.

The state’s most fundamental duty is to protect its 40 million residents from calamities such as deadly wildfires.  …  But it’s going to require a recognition of the problem from Democrats.  Screaming about climate change, a long-term problem that has been centuries in the making and may not be reversible, doesn’t solve the more immediate issue of protecting people now. …

Californians deserve far, far better than this.

Click here to the read the full op-ed as published in Fox & Hounds.