Who Bears Responsibility for CA Fires?

From Bloomberg News: Facing $17 Billion in Fire Damages, a CEO Blames Climate Change

It was California’s biggest fire yet. In late July and August, wildfires devastated an area north of San Francisco far bigger than New York City, destroying more than 100 homes and injuring 2 fire fighters. It’s just one in a rash of fast-spreading blazes that have killed at least 56 people this year and last in the Golden State.

Authorities don’t yet know the cause of some of the fires, but the region’s giant utility, PG&E Corp., see a culprit at work — climate change. The blazes in recent years, it said, are the latest example of how global warming has produced unusually hot, dry conditions that spawn more frequent and intense fires. “Climate change is no longer coming, it’s here,” Geisha Williams, chief executive officer of PG&E, said in an email. “And we are living with it every day.”

Scientists tend to agree with that assessment. But California’s biggest utility has an especially compelling reason to link the fires to the environment. State investigators have tied PG&E equipment, such as trees hitting power lines, to some of the blazes in October that in total destroyed nearly 9,000 structures and killed 44 people. It faces damage liabilities totaling as much as $17 billion, and possible financial ruin — its stock is down about 37 percent since the fires — unless Williams can convince California lawmakers that the company’s problem is, in fact, a climate change problem.

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