In yesterday’s post, I quoted from Bloomberg’s website. It’s harder to find this information for others, but this article in the Desert Sun, did a nice job of rounding up the other candidates’ answers (although like for my requests from the campaigns, not everyone responded). Thanks to Susan Britting for providing this link! Also note that Malcolm North, a Forest Service Research scientist, was allowed to talk to the press and even design a thoughtful question for the candidates.
Wildfires pose an especially serious threat to low-income communities, people with disabilities, and seniors. That’s why Elizabeth has committed to:
*Improving fire mapping and prevention by investing in advanced modeling with a focus on helping the most vulnerable — incorporating not only fire vulnerability but community demographics.
*Prioritize these data to invest in land management, particularly near the most vulnerable communities, supporting forest restoration, lowering fire risk, and creating jobs all at once.
*Invest in microgrid technology, so that we can de-energize high-risk areas when required without impacting the larger community’s energy supply.
*Collaborate with Tribal governments on land management practices to reduce wildfires, including by incorporating traditional ecological practices and exploring co-management and the return of public resources to indigenous protection wherever possible.
*She’s also committed to prioritizing at-risk populations in disaster planning and response and strengthening rules to require disaster response plans to uphold the rights of vulnerable populations. A Warren administration will center a right to return for individuals who have been displaced during a disaster and while relocation should be a last resort, when it occurs, she is committed to improving living standards and keeping communities together whenever possible.
My take: not so sure more modeling is needed, I’m assuming “more vulnerable” means old and/or poor and/or minority. It sounds like spending a lot of money to figure out how to prioritize spending money. This is one of those things that it would be interesting to see what it would look like in practice. Maybe poorer communities get fuel treatments around them, and richer communities need to pitch in? Perhaps it already works that way in practice. The idea of “returning public resources to indigenous protection wherever possible” sounds interesting. I’m not sure how I think the federal government should be involved in a “right to return.” Seems to me like something that should be worked out between people, communities, their local governments, and insurers.
Pete Buttigieg: wildfires are included in climate change and resilient infrastructure.
As part of my Justice Centered Climate Plan, I will invest nearly $500 billion in the upkeep and protection of our watersheds, wetlands, national parks, and forests — and this includes fire management as well as protecting our clean drinking water. Because while some of the impacts of climate change are already here, there are levelheaded preventative measures we can take to protect ourselves and our forests from the worst dangers. My plan puts $555 billion into developing climate-smart communities and housing and an additional $755 billion into adaptation, resilience, and green infrastructure. This will ensure that the people who are displaced from fires and flooding have affordable places to live with access to green space. And it will also ensure that they have good-paying jobs building our new climate-resilient infrastructure, protecting our lands and waters, and serving communities hit by the climate crisis as long-term disaster recovery workers.
That’s a lot of money, but I’m curious about the “levelheaded preventative measures” and if those are the same as “developing climate-smart communities and housing” or “upkeep and protection” of private and federal lands.
We must invest now in mitigating these more frequent and severe wildfires, making our infrastructure more resilient, and preparing for disaster response. We must change our framework of fire suppression and forest management to take the whole local ecosystem into account, including the rural communities who are most vulnerable.
In California, developers are building houses in fire hazard zones, a move partially driven by the housing shortage. Bernie is committed to fully closing the 7.4 million unit shortage of affordable housing to guarantee housing to all as a right. We will work to ensure housing growth is climate-resilient, with experts and impacted communities included every step of the way.
We’ll expand the wildfire restoration and disaster preparedness workforce. We’ll increase federal funding for firefighting by $18 billion to deal with the increased severity and frequency of wildfires. Furthermore, we must facilitate community evacuation plans that include people experiencing homelessness, and increase social cohesion for rapid and resilient disaster recovery to avoid the use of martial law and increased policing in disaster response.
We’ll also amend the Stafford Act to ensure that FEMA ensures that recovery and rebuilding efforts make affected communities stronger than they were before the disaster so they are more resilient to the next disaster.
There are certainly many more voters (and delegates) in California, as the map above shows, so perhaps a California-centric view of wildfires is appropriate. Still, the relationship between housing shortages and living in fire-prone areas (grasslands, shrublands and forests) is more complicated in the Interior West than a lack of affordable housing in the cities. People would rather be here, and many are retired or work from home.
I like the idea of increasing social cohesion (but the martial law thing is a little scary). However, I wonder how politicians who spend their lives saying bad things about their opponents (and sometimes their supporters) can quickly spin to uniting people and community-building. I’ll be glad to see it if he is elected.
The other candidates apparently did not respond to the Desert Sun’s query (nor mine).
I’d have to give the “thoughtfulness about wildfire” aka “not just another climate issue” award to Bloomberg and Warren. Others have told me that they have more staff and that could be the reason. Certainly they are the only two who answered my questions, so there might be something to that. What do you think?