Senator Lara Highlights New Report Linking Wildfire Impacts and Californians’ Health

October 30, 2018

NAPA, CA – As legislators prepare to meet today in Napa over wildfire insurance, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) pointed to a new report revealing the impacts of extreme wildfire and other climate-caused events on Californians’ health. People living near wildfire disasters could see increased deaths, respiratory illness from wildfire smoke, and mental health needs in the years ahead.

Senator Lara is a member of the Senate Insurance Committee and joins a special joint legislative hearing on wildfires in Napa on Tuesday, October 30.

Senator Lara requested the Senate Office of Research report, “The Public Health Impacts of Climate Change in California,” to guide legislators and local leaders in responding to new climate threats including wildfires.

“Wildfires driven by climate change strain the entire social safety net, creating lasting health issues for survivors. From home insurance to health insurance we have to make sure people are covered so they can recover,” said Senator Lara. “Understanding the health impacts from climate change should fuel our urgency to take action.”

The report summarizes research showing climate-related health impacts, including:

  • Increased emergency room visits due to smoke from large fires, particularly for older adults and young children.
  • An increase of 6,700 to 11,300 annual premature deaths due to higher average temperatures by 2050.
  • Rise in insect-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile.
  • Mental health impacts from disasters
  • Reduced food security

Senator Lara also authored Senate Bill 824 and Senate Bill 30 to confront the rising threat from wildfires.

SB 824 extends protections from insurance cancellation and nonrenewal for one year to all people in a declared disaster area or adjacent zip codes, whether or not they suffer total loss. SB 824 also requires insurance companies to report data on wildfire risk, allowing the Department of Insurance to better police the industry and work with local governments to protect consumers.

SB 30 is the nation’s first climate insurance law that would explore using market-based methods to reduce climate risks by protecting our “natural infrastructure” such as healthy forests and wetlands.

Click here to view the report at the Senate Office of Research.