Arnold Ahlert / November 7, 2019

The Golden (Brown) State

California’s environmental mismanagement is taking the state backwards in time.

Perhaps nothing defines the progressive movement better than what is arguably the most bankrupt phrase in the English language: my truth. For decades, one of California’s primary expressions of “my truth” has been the idea that global warming is the chief cause of the ongoing catastrophes wrought by wildfires. Unfortunately, Californians who still expect the largest state in the richest nation in the world to provide basic modern-day amenities are finding out the hard way that when political ideology trumps common sense and basic management skills, one can literally end up in the dark — on schedule.

A critical part of the global-warming agenda rests on the idea that mankind is so irresponsible it can never assume the top spot in the hierarchy of practical environmental solutions. Thus in the 1990s, the logging industry that was integral to removing dead trees and combustible underbrush — for which they “diabolically” expected to earn a profit — was hit with a series of regulations aimed at protecting the Spotted Owl.

Regardless, the Spotted Owl’s population continued to decline, due to predation. Far more important, the harvest rate declined to the point where tree harvesting on federal lands is one-tenth of what it was in 1988.

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Democrat (and dedicated ecofascist) Gov. Gavin Newsom admitted the state’s response to wildfires has been “inadequate to the task, but so is the federal government, which manages over 40% of our forest lands and it’s the height of irony and almost indignity that we’re being criticized by members of the White House and the president himself.”

Last year, Trump pointed out the obvious: “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”

Yet it was then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who revealed the eco-driven machinations that make Newsom’s assertions ring exceedingly hollow. When “we try to thin forests of dead and dying timber, or we try to sustainably harvest timber from dense and fire-prone areas, we are attacked with frivolous litigation from radical environmentalists who would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods,” he stated.

Such frivolity has consequences, and Newsom himself admitted as much when he recalled his father’s experience in the small town of Dead Flat. “The dead trees up there are legendary,” the governor explained. “Hundreds of millions of dead trees and the cost… [What] we just did on our property cost $35 grand and was just — it seemed like a small little patch of dead trees. I mean it was jaw-dropping the cost just to one property owner.”

Former California legislator Chuck DeVore explains that such jaw-dropping costs are “a consequence of California’s Byzantine environmental regulatory patchwork.”

That regulatory patchwork and the eco-insanity that drives it is hardly new. In 2016, former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bipartisan wildfire-management bill that would have given local government more say in forest management by engaging the Public Utilities Commission to create maps of fire hazards near utility lines.

How bipartisan? Unanimous votes of 75-0 in the Assembly, and 39-0 in the Senate. Thus Brown had a great hand in precipitating what he and other radical environmentalists call the “new normal.” In 2017, that new normal precipitated wildfires in the Napa and Sonoma wine regions, killing 44 people and destroying thousands of structures. In 2018, the state endured the most destructive wildfire in history: Camp Fire wiped out the town of Paradise and killed 86 people.

The real culprit here? “Years and years of greed, years and years of mismanagement in the utilities, in particularly PG&E,” Newsom — who spent eight years as Brown’s Lt. Governor — asserted last month. “Greed has precipitated a lack of intentionality and focus and a hardening our grid, undergrounding their transmission lines. They simply did not do their job.”

That would be the same PG&E that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, due in large part to the anticipation of massive legal claims associated with what has become scheduled blackouts — blackouts designed to prevent the ignition of timber and underbrush that has been allowed to accumulate near PG&E’s power lines. The same PG&E, California officials now want to buy out, as if taxpayer funding — and their assumption of the utility’s massive liabilities — will solve the utility’s problems.

As The Wall Street Journal pointed out, a large portion of the PG&E’s problems are directly attributable to the climate agenda pursued by the Brown-Newsom administration, including the mandate that 60% of the electricity come from renewables by 2030.

An added “bonus” for Californians? Their electricity rates are the third highest in the nation — when they get it.

Last February, the U.S. Forest Service announced that an additional 18 million trees, mostly conifers, died in California since fall 2017, and that over 147 million trees have died on 9.7 million acres of federal, state, local, and private lands since the state’s drought began in 2010. In May 2018, the state created the Forest Management Task Force whose mission is to “protect the environmental quality, public health, and economic benefits that healthy forests provide to California.”

Yet as a 2016 article by San Francisco Chronicle columnists Chad T. Hanson and Dominick A. DellaSala indicates, the definition of “healthy forests” is rather circumspect if it doesn’t align with an environmentalist agenda that insists dead trees “are the most important parts of a healthy forest as they anchor soils thus preventing erosion, shade new seedlings from intense sunlight and provide habitat for scores of insect-eating bats, birds and small mammals.”

In addition, there’s the state’s Forest Carbon Plan, an initiative designed to “establish California’s forests as a more resilient and reliable long-term carbon sink, rather than a greenhouse gas and black carbon emission source.” By that “logic,” sucking up CO2 requires planting even more trees and leaving existing forests in relatively pristine condition in a state where the natural weather pattern consists of a distinct wet season precipitated by Pacific storms that begin in November/December, and bone dry, fire-friendly conditions that occur in both the summer and the fall.

The bottom line? California harvests less than one-third of the trees it harvested 30 years ago, a bankrupt utility cannot afford to modernize its grid, and the fires are spewing enough greenhouse gases into the air that California “will be decades late in meeting its ambitious goal of cutting greenhouse gases 40% below 1990 levels by 2030,” the LA Times reports.

And global warming is the all-purpose excuse for it all.

Regardless, the best laid plans of California’s eco-warriors are going up in smoke — literally. “Our resolute ancestors took a century to turn a wilderness into California,” long-time state resident Victor David Hanson writes. “Our irresolute generation in just a decade or two has been turning California into a wilderness.”

As the saying goes, will the last person leaving the state please turn out the lights? Oh, wait…

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