California to waive environmental rules for fire season prep

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is declaring a state of emergency to speed up forest management ahead of the next wildfire season.

Posted: Mar 22, 2019 10:46 AM
Updated: Mar 22, 2019 2:36 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California Gov. Gavin Newsom is declaring a state of emergency to speed up forest management ahead of the next wildfire season.

Newsom will sign an order Friday allowing fire officials to bypass environmental and other regulations to clear dead trees and vegetation more quickly. It will apply to 35 projects across 90,000 acres.

Newsom says he does not want the state to experience the previous years' destruction from fire.

"2017 was the worst fire season in California's history until 2018. We can't allow 2019 to maintain that status. We've got to do more and we've got to do better," he said.

Kathryn Phillips of the Sierra Club says waiving environmental regulations could have unintended consequences.

Newsom is spending $50 million on public outreach around disaster preparedness and response in disadvantaged communities. He's also making it easier for state government to work with the private sector on innovative wildfire solutions.

Tim Edwards, president of Cal Fire Local 2881 released the following statement in response to the Governor's proclamation:

“The fires of the past three years have upended and destroyed entire communities, the worst I have seen in my twenty-five-year career. While it is difficult for all of us, including the Governor, we support the Governor's action to protect Californians’ lives and homes. Fuels management is important and these types of projects the Governor is proposing can save lives and make a difference. These circumstances are unusual, unpredictable, unseen in our lifetime, and courageous decisions that sometimes go against the political winds need to be made. Our commitment to public safety, health and the environment does not wane."

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