California to Waive Environmental Rules to Prep for Wildfire Season

Newsom said clearing dead trees at a quick pace is essential to diminishing future threats.President Donald Trump has blamed California fires on poor forest management, though experts say climate change caused by people is more of a factor. Newsom is taking recommendations from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, but one environmental group likened it to actions by Trump. « Newsom should reject the Trump approach of logging and rolling back critical environmental protections,» said Shaye Wolf, climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

Newsom also pledged $50 million for fire preparedness in low-income communities and asked the private sector to bring forward innovative proposals. Administration officials would need to give the go ahead to each individual project and it’s unclear exactly which regulations each individual project would forego. Newsom said moving through the normal process would drastically slow down the state’s ability to act. The union representing state firefighters praised Newsom’s plan.

«These circumstances are unusual, unpredictable, unseen in our lifetime, and courageous decisions that sometimes go against the political winds need to be made,» said Tim Edwards,president of CAL Fire Local 2881. While environmental groups bristled at Newsom’s plan, they still align with him on a wide range of issues. Newsom’s predecessor, fellow Democrat Jerry Brown, was known globally for his fight against climate change but still clashed with environmental groups at home on some issues. California has set a goal, for example, of getting 100 percent of its energy from carbon-free sources by 2045, and passed a landmark cap-and-trade law to decrease emissions.

« I think what we’re disagreeing with here is an approach to a problem that we all recognize,» said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California. Beyond accelerating tree clearing,Newsom put out a «request for innovative ideas» from the private sector to help fight California fires.

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