Local Advocacy Groups Shut Down California Public Utilities Commission Hearing over PG&E’s Culpability in Northern California Wildfires

November 29, 2018

Press Release

For Immediate Release

MEDIA CONTACT:

Vanessa, (415) 290-3841, msvanessabutterworth@gmail.com

Photos and video available here: bit.ly/nopgebailoutphotos

Online petition and statement can be found here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/no-pge-bailout

Local Advocacy Groups Shut Down California Public Utilities Commission Hearing over PG&E’s Culpability in Northern California Wildfires

San Francisco, CA: A coalition of local Bay Area groups shut down the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) public hearing on PG&E’s safety culture today to call for the privately-owned utility to take complete financial responsibility for all fires caused by its negligence and contributions to climate change.

Overwhelming evidence shows that PG&E is solely responsible for starting the recent “Camp Fire”, one of the deadliest and most destructive fires in California history. State investigators have also determined they are responsible for at least 16 other fires last fall, 12 of which were deadly, and 11 of which clearly violated laws requiring proper maintenance and safety standards. Yet, the state of California is willing to pass on costs to the affected populations instead of the private San Francisco-based utility — whose CEO could receive more than $12 million in bonuses this year.

The coalition stands with all residents impacted by the fires, and refuses to allow the California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC President Michael J. Picker, and other politicians to bail out PG&E by forcing customers to pay for their negligence that destroyed 14,000 homes, claimed 88 lives, and has 203 people still missing.

The coalition also recognizes PG&E’s role in contributing to the increase in climate catastrophes, like the two week-long smoke-filled skies over Northern California, by investing in massive fossil fuel infrastructure across California.

“The people who have to live with the consequences of your past decisions to subsidize shareholders and dirty energy infrastructure should not also have to inherit the debts of this irresponsible corporation,” observed the coalition in an online petition and statement.

In addition, the state of California hasn’t provided respirator masks, shelter, or relief for thousands of homeless and vulnerable folks, but now wants to bail out a bloated, investor-owned utility that has spent millions to defeat efforts that would usher in safer, renewable energy. Lawmakers need to prioritize lives, health and the climate, not the financial stability of PG&E.

“People across northern California were forced to endure the smoke from this fire for two weeks.” said Esther Goolsby, East Oakland organizer for Communities for a Better Environment. “Particularly vulnerable were Black, Brown and low-income communities, who face the brunt of the Bay Area’s pollution every day. Toxic air smothered us, but only volunteers like Mask Oakland came to help. Left unchallenged, this pattern of institutional and regulatory neglect ensures climate change hits marginalized groups first and worst.”

“We have an alternative to the monopoly utilities; Community Choice Energy, where the public is in control of the electrical system,” said Jessica Tovar from Local Clean Energy Alliance and East Bay Clean Power Alliance. “We need to democratize energy by putting in the hands of the people, not the corporations driven by profit. If we had decentralized energy — local clean energy — we wouldn’t need the transmission lines that caused the fires in the first place.”

“We’re in a state of emergency where climate disasters are more frequently disrupting, displacing, and even killing people across the country. We need our state to take climate change seriously before it’s too late and that means investing in community-led renewable energy systems that are local and regional — not CEOs and shareholders who make millions and millions in profit.” said Scott Parkin of Diablo Rising Tide.

The coalition is made up of the following groups: Mask Oakland, Local Clean Energy Alliance, East Bay Clean Power Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, Diablo Rising Tide, Democratic Socialists of America and others. There will be a convening this Saturday, December 1st to discuss how to group will take next steps.

For more info on any of the groups involved, please contact Vanessa with Diablo Rising Tide at msvanessabutterworth@gmail.com or 415-290-3841.

 

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