California wildfires, oil spill and COVID-19 draw proclamations

Bonds

California Gov. Gavin Newsom started the week with a trio of proclamations: to aid schools impacted by wildfires, to aid the Orange County beach areas affected by a massive oil spill, and to support the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order related to schools ensures continuity in education for displaced students and includes waivers related to class size, outdoor physical education, school district residency and deadlines for local educational agencies to submit Local Control and Accountability Plans, which are multi-year planning documents tied to budget projections.

Newsom also extended the due date to Oct. 15 for school districts affected by wildfires to submit audited expenditures that determine state budget allocations.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared states of emergency in 10 northern California counties this summer because of devastating fires.

Bloomberg News

Wildfires are a long-term credit risk in the western states, S&P analysts wrote in a Sept. 28 report.

“Since 2018, wildfires have become increasingly common and are a credit risk for municipalities in high fire-risk areas across several western states such as California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado,” S&P analysts wrote. “The ongoing drought, particularly in California, is a likely contributor to the reoccurrence of wildfires in areas with historically low rainfall.”

From July to August, Newsom declared states of emergency in ten northern California counties because of devastating fires. The affected counties are Siskiyou, Lassen, Plumas, Alpine, Placer, Trinity, Tehama, Shasta, El Dorado and Lake counties.

Newsom also declared a state of emergency in Orange County Monday to support the emergency response to the oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach that originated from a broken pipeline in federal waters.

“The state is moving to cut red tape and mobilize all available resources to protect public health and the environment,” Newsom said. “As California continues to lead the nation in phasing out fossil fuels and combating the climate crisis, this incident serves as a reminder of the enormous cost fossil fuels have on our communities and the environment.”

California has not granted new offshore leases for oil production in over 50 years and Newsom has directed the California Air Resources Board to analyze pathways to phase out oil extraction by 2045, he said.

The order related to COVID-19 extends flexibilities allowing the state to increase health care capacity to support ongoing testing and vaccination efforts and minimize the threat of COVID-19 to Californians and health care workers.

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