The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is prepared to bill California wildfire victims to recover a portion of some $4 billion it says it’s owed by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), in the event the debt isn’t resolved under the utility’s bankruptcy case, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The reimbursement would cover costs from the government’s response to fires in 2015, 2017 and 2018. According to the report, any payment to FEMA would have to come from the company’s $13.5 billion allocation intended to settle claims from fire victims. FEMA’s claim would consume around 30% of the settlement. Victims’ lawyers are now battleing the agency, which told the Chronicle that it is compelled to first seek reimbursement from the utility – otherwise “individual victims would be on the hook if they get settlement money that duplicates funds already paid by the federal government,” according to the report, citing FEMA regional administrator Bob Fenton.