Resolution on Wildfire Policy

Resolution on Wildfire Policy

WHEREAS, there is a growing number of large, catastrophic wildfires that are impacting communities and their citizens across the West, creating adverse health impacts, destroying billions of dollars in public and private property; and creating significant reliability concerns for the energy sector; and

WHEREAS, wildfire risk is increasing due to a confluence of factors, such as extreme heat, prolonged drought, and insect and disease infestations; development continues to encroach into the wildland-urban interface where people and structures co-exist with fire prone vegetation; and decades of fire suppression such as a decrease in controlled burns has led to a buildup of natural fuel, leading to larger and more destructive fires;

WHEREAS, these factors are resulting in longer and more destructive fire seasons and commensurately higher costs (both in dollars and resources) for fighting fires and recovering from them, a trend that will likely accelerate in the future; and

WHEREAS, many energy companies and the communities they serve are devising and implementing comprehensive programs to mitigate and manage wildfire risk, including more frequent vegetation management cycles, increasing emergency response capabilities, and making new infrastructure investments there remain challenges and barriers in instituting these resiliency programs; and

WHEREAS, as part of a comprehensive approach to managing wildfire risk, energy companies engage in vegetation management on and off their rights-of-way (ROWs) on private, state, and federal lands; however, critical energy infrastructure is often sited in ROWs that are susceptible to catastrophic wildfires and once ignited, intense wildfires can overwhelm energy infrastructure even in well-maintained ROWs; and

WHEREAS, gaining timely access to perform vegetation management inside and outside of ROWs to reduce fuel load remains a major challenge and creates liability concerns for the energy industry; and

WHEREAS, responsible vegetation management on all lands, combined with preservation of public access routes actually reduce the risk of wildfire, and improve forest health, enhance wildlife habitat, and provide recreation opportunities which create beneficial cash flow for local, state and national economies,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the {state} legislature will work to reduce the legislative and regulatory barriers to the shared goal of preventing and extinguishing wildfires, performing vegetation management, both inside and outside of the ROWs; developing and deploying new technologies that can enhance wildfire detection and response; and address liability concerns for the energy sector.