Monday, December 25, 2017

On California's fires and the rural-urban divide

A Wall Street Journal editorial this morning blames California's fires not on climate change, but on  bad management by the state.  Here's the salient excerpt regarding what the state might have done differently: 
In 2011 Democrats imposed a “fire prevention” fee on rural homeowners, but the money instead went to backfill the budget. They suspended the fee this summer only in return for GOP votes to extend cap and trade, which they promised would help pay for fire prevention. Yet Gov. Brown has proposed spending a mere $200 million of this year’s projected $2.4 billion cap-and-trade revenues on fire prevention. Most would go to high-speed rail, public housing and transit and electric-car subsidies. 
Californians would be better served if the state prioritized resources on clearing deadwood and retrofitting homes in high-risk zones with fire-resistant roofs and vents. Neither electric cars nor a bullet train will save people from a pyrrhic perdition.
I can't help think about the rural-urban divide implicit (well, to some extent, explicit) in all of this--in who is getting what from the state.  Electric cars are unlikely to take hold in rural California unless and until their ranges are greatly increased.  Public housing is rare in rural places, as is public transit.  Yet the fees rural residents paid for "fire prevention" wasn't actually used for that purpose?  Is this just another example of extreme metro-centrism in California?

1 comment:

Orchid64 said...

It is precisely about the liberal majority (which I am idealogically a part of) imposing its will on the conservative rural minority without regard for how it affects them. Since I live in rural northern California and have tolerated the extremely high toxic smoke levels for months on end, I know how bad it is from firsthand experience. When I mentioned that we deal with air quality that is worse than a bad day in Beijing for weeks on end, one of my Bay Area friends said, "I'm sorry that the smoke inconveniences you," but he didn't want the forests managed in any way. This is how belittling and condescending urbanites are. It wasn't until Napa and Santa Rosa started to burn and people in the northern bay started to suffer and parts of Southern California started to singe that anyone started to care. Rural folks have been putting up with this for years now.