Last week, Pacific Gas & Electric intentionally cut the power off to 800,000 electricity customers in Northern California — affecting roughly 2 million people — in an attempt to avoid sparking another potentially deadly wildfire.  

Classes were canceled, businesses closed and food spoiled, and people who rely on medical devices started to panic. There was no fire, but the blackout has caused tempers to flare and political tensions to rise.  

How did we get to a point where California’s largest utility is resorting to planned power outages to prevent destructive wildfires? And how will politicians manage the increasing risk that wildfires present going forward?

We discuss on this week’s episode of Political Climate with Michael Wara, director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at Stanford University and a member of California's Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery (starts 17:00).

We kick off the show with a look at the fourth Democratic presidential debate, plus Brandon announces his 2020 candidate! As always, we end with our segment, “Say Something Nice.” 

Political Climate is recording a live show at UC San Diego on Monday October 21. The event begins at 5 p.m. and it’s free. You just need to sign up here. If you’re in the San Diego area — come join us!

Recommended reading:

  • GTM: California on Edge as PG&E’s Power Outage Plan Goes Into Effect
  • L.A. Times: There’s a quick way to help prevent wildfires: Shut off the power grid
  • Guardian: California power shutoffs: When your public utility is owned by private investors
  • NPR: PG&E's Blackouts Panic California's Vulnerable Population
  • LA Times: Newsom and legislative leaders decline to embrace changes to California’s wildfire liability law
  • WaPo: Green groups grapple with how to respond to Hunter Biden's gas company role
  • Eventbrite: Political Climate podcast live show

Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, and thanks to invaluable support from producer Victoria Simon.

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