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house Bill H.R. 1873

Should Electric Utilities be Allowed to Remove Hazardous Trees Near Powerlines on Federal Land to Prevent Fires?

Argument in favor

This bipartisan bill would decrease the risk of blackouts, prevent forest fires, and lower costs for electrical utilities and the Forest Service by letting utilities more efficiently remove hazardous trees.

Chris's Opinion
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06/21/2017
I'd like to see this amended with something about re-planting trees that are removed. Maybe something like for every 2 trees removed, a new one must be planted in another location
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Akilah's Opinion
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06/21/2017
Only what is necessary should be removed and they should have to report and replace the number or trees or find a better place to put the lines.
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Ray's Opinion
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06/21/2017
Common sense, so long as liability is shifted to the utility responsible for maintaining the right of way. No free rides!
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Argument opposed

This bill doesn’t do enough to solve the problem of coordination between electrical utilities and federal land management agencies, shifts responsibility for wildfires from utilities to taxpayers.

Clint's Opinion
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06/21/2017
Congress should not be building loopholes for utility companies to log out public lands. If clearing must be done to install and maintain utilities, it must be proposed to and agreed upon by the EPA, Forestry Service, or National Park Service if applicable, during the contract process.
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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06/21/2017
I have to say there is a knee jerk reaction to yell save the trees here, however, as I live in a state with year round forest fires there are two important things people forget. Forest or wildfires generally are caused by people acting recklessly or lighting strikes in dry windy conditions. Seldom if ever is one cause by utilities. The other thing is fire is not a bad thing for a forest unless it's to the point of sterilization of the soil. Many forests are experiencing beetle kill. A fire takes out the standing deadwood and allows for new growth. While this bill has good intentions, I see no oversight and it appears to be shifting the cost away from the utilities where it belongs. There is no incentive to bury these lines for both aesthetic and safety purposes. Nice idea but it doesn't go far enough. Much praise to our Wildland Firefighters.
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Chimmy's Opinion
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06/21/2017
This seems like a way for private companies to clear cut forests in the name of safety and fire control. The bill does not specify what science has shown as a safe distance nor does it provide oversight mechanism for company's, because we all know they want to make profit regardless of the impact to the environment, loss of habitat, etc.
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Bill Details

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Title

Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act

Official Title

To amend the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 to enhance the reliability of the electricity grid and reduce the threat of wildfires to and from electric transmission and distribution facilities on Federal lands by facilitating vegetation management on such lands.

Summary

Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act (Sec.2)This bill requires the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), with respect to lands under their respective jurisdictions, to ensure that all existing and future rights-of-way for electrical transmission and distribution facilities on such lands include requirements for utility vegetation management, facility inspection, and operation and maintenance activities that: are developed in consultation with the holder of the right-of-way; enable the owner or operator of a facility to operate and maintain it in good working order and comply with federal, state, and local electric system reliability and fire safety requirements; and minimize the need for case-by-case or annual approvals, and instead provide for expedited review and approval, for routine vegetation management, facility inspection, and operation and maintenance activities within existing electrical transmission and distribution rights-of-way, as well as utility vegetation management activities necessary to control hazard trees within or adjacent to electrical transmission and distribution rights-of-way. Interior and USDA shall give facility owners and operators the option to submit to the appropriate agency a vegetation management, facility inspection, and operation and maintenance plan. Interior and USDA shall develop jointly a consolidated and coordinated process for review and approval of these plans. Interior and USDA shall apply its categorical exclusion process under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) to plans developed by this bill. (A "categorical exclusion" under the NEPA is a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment and for which neither an Environmental Assessment nor an Environmental Impact Statement is required.) If vegetation on federal lands within, or hazard trees on federal lands adjacent to, an electrical transmission or distribution right-of-way granted by Interior or USDA has contacted, or is in imminent danger of contacting, one or more electric transmission or distribution lines, the owner or operator: may prune or remove the vegetation or hazard tree to avoid disruption of electric service and risk of fire, and shall notify the local agent of the relevant agency within 24 hours after such removal. The owner or operator of a transmission or distribution facility, after notifying Interior or USDA, as appropriate, may also conduct vegetation management activities on federal lands to meet clearance requirements under standards established by the Electric Reliability Organization or by state and local authorities. An owner or operator of a transmission or distribution facility shall not be held liable for wildfire damage, loss, or injury, including the cost of fire suppression, if Interior or USDA fails to allow it to: operate consistently with an approved vegetation management, facility inspection, and operation and maintenance plan on federal lands within or adjacent to a right-of-way to comply with federal, state, or local electric system reliability and fire safety standards; or perform vegetation management activities in response to a hazard tree or a tree in imminent danger of contacting the owner's or operator's transmission or distribution facility. Interior and USDA may develop a program to train their personnel involved in vegetation management decisions on rights-of-way relating to transmission and distribution facilities. Interior and USDA shall prescribe regulations, or amend existing regulations, to implement this bill. An owner or operator does not have to develop and submit a vegetation management, facility inspection, and operation and maintenance plan if one has already been approved by Interior or USDA before the enactment of this bill. (Sec.3)This bill shall not detract from the availability of funds or other resources for wild-fire suppression.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house Passed June 21st, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 300 Yea / 118 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Agriculture
      Conservation and Forestry
      National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
      Water, Oceans, and Wildlife
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedApril 4th, 2017

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    I'd like to see this amended with something about re-planting trees that are removed. Maybe something like for every 2 trees removed, a new one must be planted in another location
    Like (276)
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    Congress should not be building loopholes for utility companies to log out public lands. If clearing must be done to install and maintain utilities, it must be proposed to and agreed upon by the EPA, Forestry Service, or National Park Service if applicable, during the contract process.
    Like (128)
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    There needs to be accountability on replacing the removed trees and a reg on how much distance does the removal code cover. Big corporations unfortunately do not have the thoughts, needs or awareness to care about human or environmental needs...their jobs are beholden to shareholders and their profitability.
    Like (89)
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    Only what is necessary should be removed and they should have to report and replace the number or trees or find a better place to put the lines.
    Like (85)
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    I have to say there is a knee jerk reaction to yell save the trees here, however, as I live in a state with year round forest fires there are two important things people forget. Forest or wildfires generally are caused by people acting recklessly or lighting strikes in dry windy conditions. Seldom if ever is one cause by utilities. The other thing is fire is not a bad thing for a forest unless it's to the point of sterilization of the soil. Many forests are experiencing beetle kill. A fire takes out the standing deadwood and allows for new growth. While this bill has good intentions, I see no oversight and it appears to be shifting the cost away from the utilities where it belongs. There is no incentive to bury these lines for both aesthetic and safety purposes. Nice idea but it doesn't go far enough. Much praise to our Wildland Firefighters.
    Like (43)
    Follow
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    Common sense, so long as liability is shifted to the utility responsible for maintaining the right of way. No free rides!
    Like (30)
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    This seems like a way for private companies to clear cut forests in the name of safety and fire control. The bill does not specify what science has shown as a safe distance nor does it provide oversight mechanism for company's, because we all know they want to make profit regardless of the impact to the environment, loss of habitat, etc.
    Like (24)
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    If utility companies need vegetation cut back on public lands they should contact the forestry service or whomever is responsible for maintaining those public lands. Don't give utility companies freedom to do what they want to our natural resources. They will always do whatever is cheapest and in their shareholders or corporate interest. Protect the parks and public lands because nobody else will.
    Like (16)
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    NO, NO, NO !!!!! THE POWER LINES ALREADY HAVE A SEVERAL HUNDRED YARD CLEARANCE ON ALL SIDES OF ITS RIGHT OF WAY !!!! THIS IS A BILL TO CLEAR CUT FOR PROFIT MORE OF WE THE PEOPLES PRIVATE AND PUBLIC LANDS BY CORPORATIONS !!!! GET RID OF IT !!! PASS INSTEAD, A BILL THAT INVOLUNTARILY FINES ALL INDIVIDUALS AND CORPORATIONS PRIVATE AND PUBLIC 40% OF THEIR YEARLY CORPORATE OR PUBLIC EARNINGS FOR VIOLATING EXISTING LAWS PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT WITH A THREE STRIKES YOUR OUT OF BUSINESS AND INCARCERATED REQUIREMENT ON ALL JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS !!!!!
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    This bill provides no oversight for a private company operating on public land.
    Like (9)
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    As a certified arborist I feel it is critical to remove hazard trees that interfere with power lines. Not only do they pose a fire risk, but any tree touching a hot wire drains power from the grid. Every limb touching a wire could be equated to someone leaving their lights on or worse. Replacing them only makes sense if the new trees are planted well away from existing utilities.
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    I am a retired construction engineer and senior manager. Not only should this be OK it should be mandated that there be no trees or branches within a twenty foot zone of any power lines that carry voltages greater than 1,500 volts. This is pure common sense safety.
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    Why is this an issue. This should be a no brainer. Pass this then get on with the Trump agenda.
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    Common sense.
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    Few, if any, forest fires have ever been caused by electrical lines. Dry conditions, ecosystems that have evolved to burn as a seed dispersal mechanism, and poorly funded fire prevention programs in these areas pose a MUCH greater risk than allowing utilities to log trees they seem to be a problem. An EIS should be conducted to see if burying the lines would be possible Le, and if so, that investment would ultimately be cheaper for all parties.
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    You want everything to be safe. A few downed trees for safety is perfectly fine.
    Like (5)
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    While I agree the electric lines need to be kept clear so our electric infrastructure is not interrupted, I believe we must insist for every tree removed another needs to be planted to ensure reforestation takes place.
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    No oversight for private companies to log usa lands
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    Absolutely! I would also add that new trees be planted to replace those cut down. This is very important to the safety of people and workers living or working close to the power line.
    Like (5)
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    If this law passes this is basically like a dearth penalty for the earth despite the earth doing nothing. CUTTING DOWN TREES SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. A Supreme Court justice appointed by the MOST POPULAR president FDR said "Trees deserve personhood in court". Think about that.
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