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Beyond The Headlines: Senator Ben Hueso "Our Wildfire Crisis Must Be Solved"

by Jeff Powers, published

San Diego, CA.- Senator Ben Hueso represents District 40, a region that incorporates some of San Diego County and all of Imperial County.

In January 2017, Senator Hueso was reappointed to serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications. He was also reappointed to the Senate Veterans Affairs, Banking and Financial Institutions, Insurance, Natural Resources and Water, and Governmental Organization Committees.

In a wide ranging interview with IVN Beyond the Headlines Sen. Hueso talked about the importance of wildfire protections saying the "state must do better in preventing wildfires."

Sen. Hueso stated, "More than ever we need to do everything in our power to prevent these fires. We are gonna move forward with SB-901 that will increase the utilities responsibilities in these areas to make sure they are engaging in more active brush removal clearance and looking at their equipment to see how it can make it more resilient. It won't solve every problem but it will solve a lot of them. We can do better, experts have testified before our committee pointing out all the ways our wildfire prevention and response is wrong, that's why we're taking new approaches."

SB 901 would allow the state’s investor-owned utilities to issue cost-recovery bonds, to be repaid by charges on customers electric bills, with the approval of the Public Utilities Commission. Proponents argue it's a way to keep PG&E, SDG&E and Southern California Edison solvent at a time when wildfires are larger, more intense and far more costly than in prior years.

Critics called it a giveaway to utilities that, through their own negligence, allowed power lines to ignite trees and brush that are tinder dry from years of drought.

Chula Vista Bayfront

For decades the City of Chula Vista has wanted to update and upgrade its bayfront. After a recent lawsuit with the airport authority was dropped, it now appears the path for success is being laid.

Sen. Hueso told IVN San Diego, "The Port of San Diego is taking the lead on developing this project, and one of their responsibilities is to protect the coastline, protect the port. This will be a job creating, coastal access promoting project that's not only going to be an economic engine but also a visitors serving development. This will be a transformative development for the south bay."

Border Wait Times/Air Quality Issues

If you've visited Mexico recently you probably have noticed getting back into the U.S. is taking longer than normal, in some cases hours longer.

It's a problem that brings huge financial and air quality issues, that impacts both sides of the border.

Sen. Hueso said about the wait times and the effort to curb them, "There's no reason why travelers should be sitting in traffic for hours at the San Ysidro border crossing. Almost a billion dollars was invested in expanding that border crossing as the San Ysidro crossing is the busiest in the world, but it's also an economic engine reducing border wait times has a direct impact in growing our economy to the tune of billions dollars per year. If we reduce those border wait times we're creating jobs, but we're also improving air quality."

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