April 4, 2017
Today, Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced H.R. 1873, the “Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act.” The bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Jim Costa (D-CA), Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), improves the safety and reliability of the electric grid on federal lands, and reduces the threat of catastrophic wildfires and costly electricity blackouts.
“This bipartisan legislation is beneficial for everyone involved, decreasing the risk of blackouts, lowering costs for utilities and the Forest Service and preventing forest fires. A single tree falling on a transmission line can cause blackouts for thousands of homes and spark a fire that devastates a National Forest, but existing red tape can prevent removal of dangerous trees for months. Under this legislation, rural electric co-ops, utilities and municipal power providers will be able to proactively remove hazardous trees before they become problems, not after they’ve caused a fire. I’m pleased to work with Rep. Schrader and our bipartisan coalition to ensure that the federal government works with electric providers to keep the lights on, protect rural communities and keep our National Forests safe,” LaMalfa said.
“Properly maintained rights-of-way is essential for public safety and enhancing the reliability of our electrical grid. The LaMalfa-Schrader bill is a no-brainer and this should not be controversial. Preventing forest fires and maintaining a reliable electrical grid should be a priority for everybody. Our utilities need a streamlined and consistent process for being able to get out on the ground and remove hazardous vegetation before it can cause a wildfire. This is exactly what our bill does. State and federal laws require routine maintenance on federal lands, but bureaucratic red tape from federal agencies has been stalling that maintenance, slowing down our electrical utilities’ ability to safely supply dependable electricity.” Schrader stated.
“Management of our federal forests and lands is vital to protecting infrastructure, natural resources and American lives. This bill will ensure that commonsense measures are taken to protect power lines, conserve our public lands and reduce the threat of wildfire. I thank Congressmen LaMalfa and Schrader for working together in a bipartisan way to address such an important need, especially in western states where overgrown federal forests can ignite a power line, interrupt electricity service and hurt the environment,” Westerman said.
“Proper forest management is crucial for the prevention of wildfires, and this legislation would not only ensure better forest clean-up, but it will enable utilities to safely supply electricity to rural regions of the country,” Costa stated.
The bill is endorsed by the Western Governors’ Association, the Edison Electric Institute and the American Public Power Association.
Last Congress, H.R. 2358, the “Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act,” was introduced by Reps. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR). On May 20, 2015, it passed the House in a larger energy package – H.R. 8, the “North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act.”