California’s free-fall decent into third-word hell hole status continues unabated. Only in California can a program that is being promoted as “crisis prevention” create a bigger crisis than the crisis it is trying to prevent. What am I talking about? The public safety power shutoff scheme, whereby our utility providers shut off power if the circumstances are ripe for a fire that could be started by their equipment in a red-flag wind event.
Never mind the fact that only about 10% of the state’s wildfires are sparked by electrical equipment. Last week’s “safety program” shutoff of power to 2 million residents resulted in the death of a person whose oxygen supply was cut off. Meanwhile, homes were burning once again in Southern California because nothing meaningful is being accomplished to reduce fuel.
We are in unchartered territory here, or maybe I should coin the term “terror-tory” because of the nightmare that could ensue. The geniuses in Sacramento and in progressive bastions like Santa Barbara believe we are the envy of the world because of all the green virtue signaling we do in this little echo chamber known as the Golden State. However, once this tsunami of incompetence and ineptitude hits the fan, we of all people will be hanging our heads in shame for a disaster of our own making.
Make no mistake about it. Local, state and federal authorities share responsibility for this fiasco. They allowed fuel to build up throughout the region for upwards of 100 years, including an estimated 147 million dead and dying trees jam-packed into 10 million acres. They also jumped on the bandwagon to sue the utilities for the fires, ignoring the fact they themselves provided the fuel.
Meanwhile, by way of a government takeover of the grid called Community Choice Energy, politicians have destroyed the utility franchise model, and deconstructed the vertical integration of the utilities. What this means is that the utilities can no longer fiscally withstand the risks and costs of enduring another fire season. That leaves ratepayers and taxpayers holding the bag, and innocent people paying the price.
What you have here in California is a situation driven by ideological zealots. California has the fifth-largest economy in the world, but we produce no more than 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. China, India and Pakistan, on the other hand, produce some 60% of the greenhouse gases. The billions of people living in these three countries support the construction of coal-fired and nuclear power plants with abandon, in order to increase their standard of living and power their economies. Meanwhile, California is shutting down nuclear and turning off power because we can’t bring ourselves to manage habitat.
Gov. Gavin Newsom would have us believe that he is cutting red tape, as he has designated some 35 high-priority forest thinning projects in the state. However, Mr. Newsom was forced to admit that in just one of these project areas, the project has been delayed due to the requirement to obtain 719 permits.
Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of The Andy Caldwell Radio Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m., on News-Press AM 1290.