Jul 12 2023
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) today introduced the Fire Safe Electrical Corridors Act, a bill that would allow the U.S. Forest Service to approve the removal of hazardous trees near power lines on federal forest lands without requiring a timber sale, thereby easing the removal of hazardous trees and reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
Three of the largest and most destructive wildfires in California history – the 2017 Thomas Fire, the 2018 Camp Fire and the 2021 Dixie Fire – were started by electrical equipment. Together, these wildfires burned more than 1.2 million acres, destroyed more than 15,000 homes and killed 87 people.“The Forest Service requires electric utilities to keep hazardous trees and branches away from powerlines on federal land,” Feinstein said. “Unfortunately, downed trees left next to a powerline pose a serious wildfire threat. Our bill would expedite the removal of downed trees by eliminating the unnecessary requirement to hold a timber sale. This would reduce the risk of wildfire and lower administrative costs that are ultimately passed on to utility customers.”
“By ensuring that the USFS allows for hazardous fuels, like dead and fallen trees, to be cleared away from existing power lines, we can better mitigate wildfires and protect communities,” Padilla said. “The Fire Safe Electrical Corridors Act ensures the removal of hazardous fuels near existing power lines on federal lands.”
The bill would:
- Allow the Forest Service to provide standing permission for electrical utilities to cut and remove hazardous trees near power lines without requiring a timber sale.
- Require any utility that sells marketable forest products from hazardous trees removed near power lines to return any proceeds to the Forest Service.