The Energy 202: Why is FEMA fighting for the money for fire victims in California?

THE LIGHT BULB

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is supposed to intervene to help Americans whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the disaster.

So why is FEMA asking victims for money after historic forest fires set California on fire?

Those who fled the fires are at a standstill with the agency that provided relief on how to divide a group of money reserved by the utility that went bankrupt after the fires.

And if FEMA cannot get the money from that bankruptcy fund, the agency suggested that it might bill the victims of the fire.

The financial tug of war can only be a prelude to the next challenge that corporations, government agencies and Americans will face every day when they try to pay the rising costs of climate change.

FEMA says Pacific Gas & Electric owes the federal government $ 3.9 billion for its response to a series of devastating fire seasons in California since 2015. Climate change is fueling more intense forest fires in California as the state sees winds stronger, less rain and drier conditions. The state had its worst fire season in 2018, when wildfires swept over 1.8 million acres there, an area larger than the size of Delaware.

But the families of those who try to rebuild their lives after the flames say the federal government is trying to storm a $ 13.5 billion victim fund approved by a bankruptcy judge last month. PG&E set aside the money to compensate the fire victims that the old utility poles, cables and other equipment of the utility company helped to provoke.

“The victims of the fire in California have gone through hell and finally have an agreement that provides them with a compensation measure,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D), whose northern California district was devastated by the Mendocino Complex fire, The largest in California. in the registry, in 2018.

“I hate to see that commitment even more diluted, if not exploited, by FEMA parachuting and trying to take the money,” added Huffman, who led a group of more than three dozen members of the California House of Representatives when writing a Letter to FEMA Chief Peter T. Gaynor, in opposition to the decision.

FEMA insists that it is legally bound on behalf of taxpayers to obtain money from PG&E. The agency said the federal government was excluded from negotiations between California residents and PG&E that led to the $ 13.5 billion settlement reached last month.

Perhaps most notable is that Bob Fenton, the FEMA regional administrator for California, warned that the agency would ask fire victims to return the money if they receive a “duplication of benefits,” meaning that FEMA and PG&E pay them.

“If a survivor receives a PG&E agreement for the same losses or disaster expenses that were previously covered by disaster assistance, that would be a duplication of benefits,” he said. “In that case, the survivor will be asked to return the disaster to FEMA assistance”

Michael Carlson, a California wine executive and member of a panel designated to represent fire victims who file claims in the bankruptcy of PG&E, says the threat is only causing “more pain to those who are already in a horrible situation “.

The decision ultimately rests with US bankruptcy judge Dennis Montali, although Huffman also hopes to persuade FEMA to abandon the matter.

“I don’t blame FEMA for seeking a refund,” Huffman said. “It is really your goal of this victim fund that is outrageous.”

He added that “if FEMA somehow manages to exploit this victim settlement fund,” Congress would have to consider passing a law to solve the problem.

The presentation of Chapter 11 of PG&E has been called the “first bankruptcy for climate change” in the nation, as Steven Mufson of The Post reported in his profile on the utility.

But it may not be the last among power companies. As forest fires become more destructive, power companies are “increasingly exposed to hurricane threats, rising sea levels and other weather-related events,” according to a Policy Center report. Global Energy of Columbia University.

POWER GAMES

– The world has just experienced its best decade: New data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that an acceleration in temperature increases over the past five years made the decade of 2010 the hottest decade ever recorded on Earth, report Brady Dennis, Andrew Freedman and John Muyskens of The Post. And humans are to blame, say the scientists, partly because of the tens of billions of tons of carbon emitted annually due to human activity.

  • The details: Last year the hottest decade culminated and also marked the second warmest year recorded, after 2016. Nineteen of the hottest 20 years in history occurred in the last two decades. The last five years were among the hottest five ever recorded. “According to NOAA, the balloon is warming at a faster rate than a few decades ago. The average annual global surface temperature has risen at an average rate of 0.07 degrees Celsius (0.13 Fahrenheit) per decade since 1880, NOAA found. However, since 1981, that rate has more than doubled since then, ”adds The Post team.
  • Key Quote: “No individual hot year, or hot days or hot seasons, is really evidence in itself of climate change. But this hot year is just one of the hot years of this decade, “said Kate Marvel, a research scientist at NASA and Columbia University, to The Post.” The planet is statistically, detectably warmer than before the Revolution. Industrial. We know why. We know what it means And we can do something about it. “

– Bloomberg wants the new buildings to be carbon free: Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg launched his latest climate proposal to address energy efficiency in buildings. By 2025, he wants all new buildings, a sector responsible for 12 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions, to meet zero carbon emissions and be powered by electrical services, reports Steven Mufson of The Post.

  • By comparing: “The last part of Bloomberg’s climate policy occurs when climate change has become a controversial part of other candidates’ campaigns,” adds Mufson. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Wants buildings to have zero carbon by 2028 and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Wants to end the use of fossil fuels in buildings by 2030, for example.

– The White House will impose aid requirements for Puerto Rico: The White House has been working for months to impose new restrictions on approximately $ 8 billion in disaster relief that has been approved for US territory, report Arelis R. Hernandez and Jeff Stein of The Post. Among other restrictions, the Trump administration wants to impose a restriction on the payment of contractors working in disaster relief at less than $ 15 per hour, despite an executive order demanding the fee.

  • Help comes, but one drop comes at a time ”: “The central government of Puerto Rico estimated that the earthquakes caused damages of $ 110 million in at least five different municipalities, but local mayors are confident that the number will skyrocket as tremors continue and damage assessments are conducted. Many communities are still waiting for the money promised after Hurricane Maria, as in Ponce, where the municipal government expects funds for hundreds of sites that need reconstruction, including roads, stormwater management systems and other public works projects. So far, only three have received approval. “

– Climate references in the Forest Service memo, deleted: An internal memo from the U.S. Forest Service. UU. It shows that an agency deputy ordered field staff to remove references to climate change and greenhouse gases in the notice of an environmental impact statement related to a Trump administration proposal. The memo, obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, shows the change related to the proposal to open national forests and grasslands in Texas for oil and gas development, reports E&E News. Both versions appeared in the Federal Register.

  • Because it is important: “By eliminating references to climate change, the Center for Biological Diversity said, the Forest Service censored its own staff and showed their willingness to interfere with environmental reviews by scientists. The organization obtained email and other documents through the Freedom of Information Act, after the dual notices aroused the curiosity of staff members, the CBD said. “
  • What the agency says: In a statement, the Forest Service said: “The request was editorial in nature and does not reflect any policy on the use of terminology or any policy regarding emissions associated with the development of oil and gas or the climate.”

– The United States is losing its domain in science and engineering: A new federal report points to numerous obstacles that have contributed to the fall of the nation from its position as a world leader in these fields. The report of the National Center for Statistics on Science and Engineering is based on research costs, journal articles, the scientific workforce and educational data, writes Ben Guarino of The Post.

  • The details: “In 2017, the United States spent $ 548 billion on research and development. That is more than any other country, “Guarino reports.” … But, on the global stage, US participation. UU. In R&D it has been reduced, while the world total increased to more than $ 2 billion, a total of triplicate investments between 2000 and 2017. In 2000, almost 40 cents of every dollar used for R&D was spent in the States United. For 2017, the U.S. portion UU. It had dropped to 25 cents. “

DIARY

Today

  • The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to consider the nomination of Charles A. Williams as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Facilities and Environment.

EXTRA MILEAGE

– Watch this cat fight three coyotes: Max, an 8-year-old rescue cat, left his home in Los Angeles last week and ran into three coyotes. “What the coyotes did not know was that Max is an experienced veteran of street life. He survived alone in Long Beach before being adopted by his current family almost four years ago, Maya Gurrin, his human, told The Washington Post, “as Lateshia Beachum writes of The Post.

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