Harris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires

Harris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires
© AFP/Getty

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCalifornia Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Steyer spokesperson: 'I don't think necessarily that Tom has bought anything' Biden wins endorsement of Sacramento mayor MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanDemocrats reach cusp of impeachment Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Pelosi heading to Madrid for UN climate change convention MORE (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation that would funnel $1 billion each year toward battling wildfires in California and elsewhere after a series of blazes have spread across the Golden State in recent weeks.

The bill would give communities up to $10 million to spend on wildfire defense — efforts that could range from bolstering evacuation plans to hardening infrastructure and deploying alternative energy sources that could help avoid fires sparked by utilities.

“As we continue to combat climate change and address other root causes of these fires, we must also invest in our communities and provide them with the resources to strengthen their readiness,” Harris said in a statement. “We know that more fires are coming, and we know what works to keep communities safe and help firefighters do their jobs — so let’s take action to get it done.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Last year’s fires cost a record $24 billion, and the California lawmakers argue that governments will save money in the long run by investing in mitigation. 

The legislation comes as others in the California delegation have eyed solutions for battling wildfires. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE (R-Calif.) has promised to deliver a GOP fix for wildfires and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinCalifornia Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Biden wins endorsement of Sacramento mayor Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight MORE (D-Calif.) has likewise said she is working on legislation.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE has often criticized California responses to wildfires, saying the state should do a better job clearing brush and raking in order to prevent fires. 

Friday’s legislation follows another bill from Harris introduced Wednesday that she said would “ensure that publicly-traded utility companies going through bankruptcy — like PG&E — cannot reward their executives with bonuses or trips.”

PG&E, a major California utility company blamed for sparking several fires, has periodically cut off service, leaving large areas of the state in blackout.