California Democrat pushes CEQA exemption for wildfire treatment

By Camille von Kaenel | 02/16/2024 12:54 PM EST

Republicans have tried and failed to streamline wildfire prevention projects. Sen. Bill Dodd, a Democrat, is trying to make it more palatable to members of his party.

Bill Dodd (left), and Richard Roth talk.

Democratic state Sens. Bill Dodd (left), and Richard Roth talk at the Capitol in Sacramento, California, on Sept. 12, 2023. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

SACRAMENTO, California — State Sen. Bill Dodd, a Democrat from fire-ravaged Napa County, proposed legislation Wednesday on a cause pushed by Republicans for years without any luck: streamlining brush-clearing in the name of wildfire prevention.

Dodd’s bill, S.B. 1159, would require the California Natural Resources Agency secretary to consider exempting from the California Environmental Quality Act projects to cut back vegetation within 30 feet of a road to prevent a spark from catching fire.

Wildfire prevention and preparedness is gaining momentum in the Legislature as the risk of a climate change fueled wildfire — and the associated rise in insurance costs — increasingly hits progressive, urbanized areas in addition to conservative-leaning rural communities.


Dodd is a centrist Democrat in his last term who has made wildfire a priority.