Preventing Fire and Electric Outages?

March 17, 2021

Author: 
"Politics, Police and Other Earthling Antics"

Thank you Gavin Newsom, Governor since 2019 and Lt.Governor from 2011 to 2019. Thank you for finally recognizing that inCalifornia, Fire is a big, did I say big?, horrendous problem. Fire, the consequent electric outages, the water pollution and the huge toll on our health and health facilities, property destruction, school closures etc. are upending this state—and have been, annually, since 2007.  

We carbon-neutral California evangelists are now exporting 111.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from our fires annually to our neighbors to the east (which would be almost the whole U.S. of A). I was inMontana in the summer of 2018 choking on California smoke. The best article I have read on this is California's Worsensing Wildfires Explained(at Calmatters.org).

And not only that, the carbon emission is black carbon, 1000 times more toxic than the greenhouse gases we hate. And more, the total destruction of our forests caused by fire keeps them emitting black carbon for years. And of course, we are deprived of the oxygen that they would have produced if alive.

You can't blame it all on climate change. Or the utilities. We have flat out failed to properly manage our forests—and our grasslands I mean dry grasslands, I mean those golden fields of weeds we see everywhere.  That's why ours is called the Golden State, right?  

Thanks, Governor. You've thrown $1 billion at the fire problem this year. But wait. We spent$1 billion in 2018 and 4.7billion in 2010 to 2019 in fire suppression—inputting out fires that occurred.  

The Plan you have offered called the Wildfire and Forest Resilience ActionPlan is brilliant and incredibly ambitious and challenging. Really. 

What needs to be done to execute this plan?

Well coordinating the various federal, state and local agencies is not trivial. In the South Lassen Watershed group for one example 24government and private entities are involved. And yes, you are streamlining the complex permitting process. But is that an adequate response? What can you or the legislature do in conjunction with the feds to mandate action—to mandate the removal of dead infested trees and underbrush, and to mandate prescribed burns--before the next or the next or the next fire season comes up?

What about power outages? They deprive us of air conditioning to cool and purify our toxic air, to run air purifiers, and to keep schools and factories and businesses open—what can be done to undo them?

PG & E is a mess, as are the other major utilities, and are often responsible for the fires. Hydroelectric plants fail when there's not enough water—as in our drought-prone State. Solar energy does not work optimally when there is smoke. Dozens of gas-powered plants have been shuttered--to preserve the environment. The Diablo Nuclear Plant is scheduled to shut down in 2024-25. Should it? Should we be constructing more nuclear power plants? And should other gas-fired power plants online for extinction be preserved until we create a reliable and alternate energy grid? Should we be mandating that all power lines be placed underground? How about it Newsom? Or anyone running to replace him?  Hello legislators. What can emergency mandates do?

OK. Not to end on a negative note. If your lungs are already compromised, or if you fear that they might become compromised, you can buy a gas mask. It can help prevent the most toxic effects of fire-caused carbon emissions; and you can wear them indoors as well as out.

Mickie Winkler

Former Mayor, Menlo Park

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