Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Red Bluff, is requesting a joint Senate Budget Committee oversight hearing with the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and the Environmental Quality Committee to review the progress of wildfire fuel reduction activities in California.
“This oversight hearing request is in to response to a recent investigation by CapRadio and NPR California Newsroom that found that Governor Newsom ‘mislead the public’ about the state’s wildfire prevention efforts ahead of California’s worst wildfire season in history,” said Nielsen.
Here is an excerpt from the letter:
Oversight is necessary after the investigation revealed that Governor Newsom overstated the amount of wildfire prevention work completed by his administration, falsely claiming that the land area treated was nearly eight times greater than the correct number. The report also cited the refusal by the Governor’s office to respond to the findings despite multiple requests. Meanwhile, current drought conditions have amplified California’s wildfire risk, leading to an earlier fire season already impacting communities statewide.
Many Senators and their constituents have been greatly affected by devastating wildfires. Therefore, it is critical that the Legislature quickly conclude budget deliberations to support current and future wildfire prevention strategies. We believe an oversight hearing is the fastest way to obtain accurate, up-to-date information from the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CAL FIRE) regarding wildfire resiliency spending. Further, Legislators and the public must understand the current funding and policy implications of the Governor’s misleading claims to provide the appropriate level of resources to continue preparing for future wildfire seasons.
In addition, we believe the public would be well-served in the longer term by an independent audit to understand whether CAL FIRE spends its funds most cost-effectively. While completing an audit would take too long to inform the 2021-22 wildfire budget, it would provide much-needed accountability over this critical state operation. Accordingly, we will be seeking authorization for an audit through separate channels.