Varney: California wildfire chaos may bring the political change it so desperately needs

The fires in California rage on. Hundreds of thousands evacuated. The utility PG&E has cut power to millions, trying to stop the burn. Your heart goes out to a state in chaos.

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But you have to ask: Why is this happening in one of the richest and most technologically advanced places on Earth? My opinion: It's California's political and regulatory climate that's to blame. It's a one-party state, always eager to do the bidding of climate warriors, public sector unions and the very liberal coastal elites.

Just look at PG&E, which is getting all the blame for the fires and the blackouts. They're not allowed to clear dead trees near their power lines — obvious fuel for fires. The greens insist on minimal forest management. PG&E is forced to spend billions buying expensive wind and solar power -- an extra $2.2 billion a year. Money that can't be spent on fire-proofing. And, by the way, the state Supreme Court has made PG&E liable for damage caused by their equipment, even if they were not negligent. And by law, it must provide power even in areas designated as "very high fire risk." No wonder they're bankrupt. No matter what they do, they can't win.

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No what? Well, Californians are going to be paying much higher electricity rates. They're going to be paying much higher home insurance rates. And somebody has to come up with maybe a couple hundred billion dollars to bail out PG&E. Gov. Newsom wants Warren Buffett to pony up the money. Would Buffett run a business in that kind of regulatory and legal climate?

A meteor streaks across the sky as gusty winds create an ember cast on a valley oak tree burned by the Kincade fire, early Wednesday morning, Oct. 30, 2019, in Knights Valley east of Healdsburg, Calif. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

I don't want to pile on but California already has the highest poverty rate in the country, the highest level of income inequality, some of the highest taxes in the country and, at $4 a gallon, America's most expensive gas. And it gets worse. Gov. Newsom is committed to reaching 100% renewable energy by 2045. And you know what that means: much much higher prices for everyone.

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And do you really think the climate crowd will back off?

Get real. There is no short term fix.

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I'll close with this: Holman Jenkins' writing in today's Wall Street Journal asks the question, "Can 40 million (Californians) suffer third-world electric reliability without a political upheaval?"

He's put his finger on the problem, which is: California's far left, climate change politics — maybe the current chaos will bring the change California so desperately needs.

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