Rep. Carbajal Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Wildfire Risk from Power Lines with Reps. Chavez-DeRemer, Costa, Valadao

U.S. Representatives Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR-05), Jim Costa (D-CA-21),  and David Valadao (R-CA-22) introduced bipartisan legislation today in the U.S. House of Representatives to reduce the risk of wildfires across the west coast and throughout the United States.

“The causes of wildfires are not a mystery to us. We know that downed trees and dead branches pose a serious threat when dry and windy conditions set in on the west coast. But right now, red tape can get in the way of us removing those risk factors from public lands,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Our bill is a no-brainer for western states who have seen electrical equipment and dry, dead trees combine to create devastating wildfires in recent years. Eliminating the unnecessary administrative need for a timber sale will reduce our wildfire risk and protect the communities we represent.”

“We must keep exploring all options available to prevent wildfires from scorching precious land and destroying our communities. I’m honored to join Congressman Carbajal to introduce the bipartisan Fire Safe Electrical Corridors Act, which would make it easier for electric cooperatives and companies to remove branches near electric equipment. It’s a commonsense proposal that would help prevent one major cause of devastating wildfires,” Chavez-DeRemer said. 

“Too often, bureaucratic red tape gets in the way of proper forest management,” said Congressman Valadao. “Dead trees that aren’t being cleared lead to more intense wildfires, causing devastation to for people’s livelihoods and poor air quality in the Central Valley. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan bill to help reduce the risk of wildfires.”

The Fire Safe Electrical Corridors Act would allow the U.S. Forest Service to approve the removal of hazardous trees near power lines on federal land without requiring a timber sale, easing a serious threat that has in the past been a major cause of destructive wildfires.

The 2017 Thomas Fire on the Central Coast of California and many of the other most destructive wildfires in California history were started by electrical equipment.

“Wildfire continues to be a significant threat to thousands of California communities with long term devastating economic and ecological consequences. The Fire Safe Electrical Corridors Act is common-sense approach aimed at wildfire prevention. I thank Rep. Carbajal and his team for their tireless work on this important issue,” said Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne.

Currently, the Forest Service requires utility companies to keep trees and branches away from power lines on federal land. But fallen or dead trees cannot be cleared currently without a timber sale, creating an administrative step that can slow clearing of hazardous fuel and potential triggers for a wildfire on federal land.

 The Fire Safe Electrical Corridors Act would:

  • Allow the Forest Service to provide standing permission for electrical utilities to cut and remove hazardous trees near power lines without requiring a timber sale.

  • Require any utility that sells marketable forest products from hazardous trees removed near power lines to return any proceeds to the Forest Service.

“NCPA applauds the leadership of Rep. Carbajal for the introduction of the Fire Safe Electrical Corridors Act.  As co-chair of the Energy Sector Coordinating Council’s Wildfire Working Group, I have heard repeatedly the importance of eliminating hazardous tree cuttings along utility corridors, and this legislation would ensure utilities have the ability to remove dead and fallen trees within U.S. Forest Service lands,” said Randy S. Howard, General Manager of the Northern California Power Agency.

The legislation was previously introduced in the U.S. Senate by California Senator Dianne Feinstein, with backing from Senator Alex Padilla.

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