Strategizing Against the Flame: What’s Next for California’s Wildfires?

October 2019
ELR 10907
Willis Hon, Lloyd Dixon, Kathleen Harrison, and David Pedersen

The 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and most destructive on record in California, destroying thousands of structures. Gov. Gavin Newsom created a strike force to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the destabilizing effect of wildfires on the state’s electric utilities. In April 2019, the strike force issued a report outlining a vision for clean energy policies to reduce the impacts of climate change on wildfire risk, and in July, the newly created Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery released its recommendations. On June 12, 2019, the Environmental Law Institute and Nossaman LLP hosted an expert panel that explored wildfire liability, the proposed regulatory components set forth by the strike force report, the viability of various wildfire mitigation strategies, cost recovery options, inverse condemnation, and potential for incorporating climate impact research into wildfire policymaking. Below, we present a transcript of the discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Willis Hon (moderator) is an Associate at Nossaman LLP. Lloyd Dixon is Director of the RAND Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and Compensation and Senior Economist at RAND Corporation. Kathleen Harrison is a Principal Geologist with Geosyntec Consultants. David Pedersen is General Manager at the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.

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