“Chainsaw Jack” Franks Can’t Power Tree Massacre Bill Out of Public Utilities Committee…Yet

Apparently “Chainsaw Jack” Franks didn’t have enough lubricating oil to get his bill (House Bill 3884, email addresses of Public Utility Committee members included in linked story) to allow Commonwealth Edison and Ameren to cut any tree it wanted to destroy within 20 feet of any power line…even it it’s in your back yard.

See all those trees beyond the trampoline? Under "Chainsaw Jack" Franks' Com Ed tree destruction bill, all could be cut down.

That means residents and local officials who know how wholesale slaughter of trees along roads and in back yards have at least another week to make their opinions known.

Here is the way that the Illinois Municipal League described the hearing:

“Legislation to authorize utilities to remove vegetation planted within 20 feet of a utility pole or overhead electrical conductor received a ‘subject matter only’ hearing in the House Public Utilities Committee on Tuesday, March 6.

“The IML has concerns with the legislation and was fortunate to have an expert witness, Mike Brunk, testify against HB 3884 (Representative Franks, D-Woodstock). Mr. Brunk is the City Arborist for Urbana, Illinois.

“Mr. Brunk’s testimony informed the Committee of alternative ‘best practices’ to manage vegetation and prevent interference with power lines.

“While the bill was not called for a vote, the members of the Public Utilities Committee expressed an interest in the development of solutions to ensure the protection of public safety and the preservation of electrical service during storm scenarios.”


“Chainsaw Jack” Franks Can’t Power Tree Massacre Bill Out of Public Utilities Committee…Yet — 7 Comments

  1. This is a terrible bill; just look at some of the roadsides where routine “trimming” has been done! why destroy irreplaceable trees for the “what if” scenario and just deal with the few instances when tree removal is actually necessary? HB 3884 is one more example of government marching through our lives, destroying anything in its way.

  2. Who is running against Jack Franks? I would like to support that person.

  3. I understand that property owners don’t want utilities butchering trees on their property.
    But let’s look at the bigger picture.

    Wherever utility lines are NOT underground, which is most places in the US, trees do high-cost damage, and every utility consumer must pay for tree damage through higher prices of the units of utilities they purchase.

    It isn’t like we have a choice…we can’t choose the utility whose lines have no trees growing near them to damage them in storms or if the trees simply fall because they’ve died.

    If all trees that now threaten or potentially threaten overhead utility lines, the costs for utility-line damage would be reduced to a fraction of what it is now. And the reduction would help everyone who pays for utilities, not just the utility companies

    For a long time I’ve wondered why utilities DON’T cut down trees on their rights-of-way rather than trim them. I assumed that in IL the reason utilities don’t fell trees is that the one-hand-washes-the-other philosophy is in play, and since trimming makes more jobs for more people and since customers are paying, the state wants those jobs to remain, so trimming is forced on the utilities, who otherwise might want to do the thing that’s more logical — cut down trees on their rights-of-way.

    I think they should cut and do it sooner rather than later.

    And I think that homeowners who have trees that threaten utility lines, and who don’t want to cut them, should have to protect other utility customers by being forced to purchase insurance policies that cover the utility line damage at 100% of the repair to overhead lines. If their tree falls or its limbs damage power lines, all customers of the utility don’t pay, only the customer whose tree or trees did the damage.

    This is fair.

    Causing every consumer of utility services throughout IL to share costs of tree damage done by trees of people who dictate to everyone else that their trees are more important than the potential cost to everyone of utility-line damage is NOT fair.

    This is an inequity that shouldn’t be tolerated by the majority.

    There are many small tree varieties, and also there are shrubs, that could replace the giants that threaten utility lines.

    Homeowners who cut trees in order to protect utility lines should be offered their choice of small replacement trees.

    If they don’t want to cut their giants, so be it, but they should have to present proof of insurance indemnifying the utility companies against the cost of damage their trees might do utility lines — at the highest possible cost of damage rather than the lowest.

    Small trees help the environment just as much as large one, are just as beautiful, and are far less apt to short out the electrical grid.

  4. First of all, here is the entire verbiage of HB 3884:

    “Synopsis As Introduced

    Creates the Overhead Utility Facilities Damage Prevention Act.

    Provides that it shall be unlawful for any person to plant restricted vegetation within 20 feet of an electric utility pole or overhead electrical conductor located within the State.

    Provides that any restricted vegetation planted, whether by a person or by natural means, within 20 feet of an electric utility pole or overhead electrical conductor located within the State shall be subject to removal.

    Provides that any person who sells restricted vegetation within this State shall affix a label to each piece of restricted vegetation identifying it as restricted vegetation.

    Permits the Illinois Commerce Commission to adopt rules concerning the removal of restricted vegetation.

    Provides that it shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with an electric utility while performing vegetation management and removal activities. Also creates provisions concerning findings, definitions, and Commission enforcement. Effective immediately.”

  5. HB 3884 is a dud. 20 feet on each side of a utility pole is a 40 foot swath.

    The property owner protections are lousy.

    The property owner must rely on, “the Illinois Commerce Commission to adopt rules concerning the removal of restricted vegetation” and “Also creates provisions concerning findings, definitions, and Commission enforcement.”

    That’s a black hole.

    Any such bill should be more detailed and not leave so much up to ICC discretion.

    A good bill would be to prevent a unit of government (municipality, township, county, state, etc.) from planting a tree that can grow into an existing overhead utility line…I have seen that done many times…so the taxpayer pays to plant the tree then pays for subsequent pruning…what a complete waste of money.

  6. 3923ntt,

    We don’t know what country you’re are from, but whatever country it is it’s not worth defending.


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