Gerald Doane: Wildfire prevention policy harms communities
The wildfire prevention policies made by Sacramento politicians and San Francisco utility executives have harmed and will continue to harm many California communities.
These policies were made to shield the assets of utility companies, but both the utility companies and the public have suffered and will continue to suffer the consequences both in lost economies and in long lasting and reoccurring inconveniences.
The policies were made in the name of fire prevention, and I must concede that shutting down a widespread ignition source during unfavorable atmospheric conditions is a manner of wildfire prevention. But it is only a temporary measure and not a permanent wildfire prevention solution.
Turning off the juice to two and one-half million people for 48 to 72 hours every time the wind, temperature and humidity are forecasted unfavorably is not without huge costs to utility companies and to the public. It cost utility companies money, and lots of it, every time they shut down, inspect, and then reenergize utility lines and equipment.
But the public costs are greater!
Businesses lose income! Some businesses will fail because they are small and cannot continually lose income. Many workers are out of work during shutdowns. Some workers will lose their jobs when employer businesses fail.
Property values in affected areas will recede because of continuous shutdowns. Property insurance rates in affected areas will go up because of the continuing wildfire risk.
These are the public costs for these temporary and reoccurring fire prevention measures.
But do you think the costs of these temporary and reoccurring wildfire prevention measures could be better spent on more permanent solutions?
Do you think that huge funds allocated for a failed high-speed rail line could have been better spent on a more permanent wildfire prevention solution?
Do you think that a long-term federal, state and privately funded program to upgrade utility infrastructure, such as buried lines and equipment, should be a candidate for a more permanent wildfire prevention solution?
Do you think that a long-term pollution reduction program should be a candidate for a more permanent wildfire prevention solution?
Do you think that a long-term beautification and high-standard vegetation management program for our roads (roads and vehicles also constitute a widespread wildfire ignition source) and utility byways should be a candidate for a more permanent wildfire prevention solution?
Do you think that a ground fuel management program in our forests should be a candidate for a more permanent wildfire prevention program?
It takes vision to solve big problems. Where is the vision?
Gerald G. Doane lives in Grass Valley.
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