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As 17 fires burn over the state, California's legislators are in touch with what it should do to help residents to cope with blazes. The most controversial issue facing the state is a decision on who to pay when the power lines touch destructive blisters.
It has resigned from a major political struggle in the state capital. On Thursday, legislators heard hours of testimony on the proposal of Gov. Jerry Brown to fine-tune state liability laws.
Currently tools can be economical for fires, even if they are not negligent in maintenance. Brown does not propose a complete suspension of liability, but he wants to throw the matter to the courts. Brown's proposal would give the judges discretion to decide on the fire, whether the tool complied with all safety regulations, how much the property was damaged, and if safer electrical systems were available but not used.
The main responsibility for tools is a very real scenario. Government fire investigators have found Pacific Gas & Electric, the state's largest tool, responsible for 16 of last year's devastating northern California fires. These fires killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes, and PG & E currently accounts for estimated costs of at least $ 2.5 billion.
On Thursday, a representative of the governor told the governor that the change would give the electrical industry in California more line with flood control district, which would not be forced to pay for property damage if they followed state security laws and regulations.
State Secretary Hannah Beth Jackson, whose central coastal district was destroyed by last year's Thomas Fire, did not buy it. "I'm worried about the fact that you try to compare the two as apples to the apples when they really are not," she said.
Some of her constituents arouse another tool, Southern California Edison, for damage caused by the Thomas fire, which until this week was the biggest fire in state history.
Cattle rancher Richard Atmore in Ventura is one of those who swear Edison. He says tools would have done more. "They never wanted to participate in vegetation management practices like they did 40, 50 years ago, but suddenly they became more interested in profit than they were in preventive work," he said.
However, households say that as climate change makes game fires more frequent and difficult, they will not be able to survive economically if they are held responsible for damage. They warn that if they run financial problems, they will get the state's ambitious climate targets – a problem dear to Governor Brown -.
"California's existing debt laws were not made for the new normal we face in future with these climate-controlled fires, Steve Malnight, senior vice president at PG & E. "It creates a very big financial risk for the tools that will limit our ability to continue making the investments we need in the future." And may also threaten bankruptcy.
PG & E is taking this political battle seriously. The tool has used the same amount of lobbying – $ 1.6 million – between April and June this year as it spent in 2017. It's worth almost $ 1 million in political donations to key players this year. 19659008] Governor Jerry Brown recently said he is trying to find a midfield.
"My goal was to try to find a reasonable balance that will reward players, including tools, to do the right thing. But do them accountable when they did not take the steps that common sense and prudence would motivate, "he said.
PG & E's Malnight said Brown's legislation is a good start, but does not go far enough to protect the electricity industry. 19659008] At the same time, Ventura cattle ranches see Atmore proposals as a giveaway to a powerful affiliated company. "I think the Governor's proposal is too skewed to protect this great company in the utility companies," he said. "They provide a huge amount of money, but just because they make a lot of money lobbying does not mean you looked the opposite way when they cause a big mistake. "
It is now up to legislators to decide how to balance. They only have three weeks, until the end of the legislative session, to do it.