A bill that just passed the U.S. House that was co-sponsored by Northstate Congressman Doug LaMalfa would make it easier for PG&E to eliminate dangerous trees, and would help them avoid some liability with forest fires. The “Electric Reliability and Forest Protection Act” would give utility companies pre-approval to cut down trees near power lines, rather than wait for the o.k. from the Forest Service. If a tree removal request is denied and a power line causes a fire, the government would have to bear the cost of firefighting. The bill passed the Natural Resources Committee in April, and that same week, state regulators fined PG&E 8.3 Million Dollars for failing to maintain a power line that contacted a gray pine and sparked a massive blaze in Amador County that destroyed 549 homes and killed two people. It was the seventh-most destructive wildfire in state history. The California Public Utilities Commission said it fined PG&E $8 Million for poor tree maintenance and the rest for failing to report that their power line started the fire. LaMalfa’s bill, co-authored with Oregon Democrat Kurt Shreder, passed the house 300 to 118 on Wednesday.