California Lawmakers Urge FEMA Not to Raid Fire Victims' Fund

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

BUTTE COUNTY – Today, the California Legislature urged FEMA officials to reconsider its pursuit of reimbursement from PG&E's $13.5 billion fire victim fund. Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), who represent Camp Fire survivors, pushed for the signing of the letter to FEMA’s Acting Administrator:

“We write to express our concern regarding efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pursue claims against the settlement fund for wildfire victims created by PG&E as a part of their ongoing bankruptcy case.  The purpose of this fund is to provide restitution to the thousands of wildfire victims trying to rebuild their lives after devastating disasters, and should not be an avenue for FEMA to recover its costs.    

“This claim by FEMA in the federal bankruptcy court could affect the ability of the victims of the 2015, 2017 and 2018 California wildfires to rebuild their lives by significantly reducing restitution they would otherwise be able to receive.   Moreover, we are told by victims that FEMA assured them they would not face additional costs when accepting federal assistance for debris removal. 

“FEMA seeking reimbursement from the $13.5 billion settlement fund reserved primarily for fire victims not only recants on this promise, but undermines FEMA’s reputation as a reliable partner.  This action would also weaken the Agency’s ability to respond to future natural disasters as FEMA’s reputation will be diminished, especially among victims.   We therefore ask that you reconsider your decision to pursue a claim against the victim’s fund in federal bankruptcy court and request further information regarding FEMA’s decision to pursue a claim.  We look forward to hearing from you.”


Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at

Assemblyman James Gallagher represents the 3rd Assembly District, which encompasses all of Glenn, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba counties as well as portions of Butte and Colusa counties