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

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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Grandfather Scales Tree, Erects Mid-Air Camp To Stop Kinder Morgan Clear-Cutting

Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver) – Early this morning Terry Christenson, a 70-year old Grandfather of two, and former Juno nominee, scaled a tree on the inside of Kinder Morgan’s fence (Westridge terminal side) and erected a mid-air camp suspended from its trunk. Terry constructed the high-flying structure to stop Kinder Morgan’s proposed tree clearing which is being done to enable the company’s drilling through Burnaby Mountain.

This pipeline does not have consent of the Indigenous Nations it would pass through. It would endanger the livelihoods and economies of all those that depend on an oil free coast and I for one won’t stand by and let it happen,” said Terry Christenson. “I’m taking this action to protect my grandchildren’s future. I care about this land, this coast and I won’t let it be destroyed all so a Texas oil company can increase its profit share.”

The National Energy Board approved Kinder Morgan to clear trees from the area and green lighted the company to begin drilling through Burnaby Mountain, flash point of protests against the project. The NEB has said Kinder Morgan needs to clear the area before March 26th to avoid interfering with birds migrating north for the summer. If clearing is not done by that date it would be a major set back for the company and plans could not proceed until after the migrating birds had left.

“We are all in this fight together. We have better options to produce energy and move people around then building another dirty pipeline that the world’s scientific community has said we need to move away from,” asserted Christenson. “It’s time that the Prime Minister got that message and I’ll be doing my best to hang out here until he does.”

This action is the latest in a series of action against Kinder Morgan’s construction plans. It is also just a week after a massive mobilization against the project that brought thousands to the streets of Burnaby.

Click here to donate to the legal support fund.

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Community Members Blockade Oil Train in Downtown Vancouver, WA

Community Members Blockade Oil Train in the Face of Police Presence in Downtown Vancouver, WA with Pop-up Sunflower Garden

On Site Media Contact: Jessie Braverman, (617) 833-9766
Media Contact: Sophie Scholl, (360) 601-7187
Vancouver, WA — Community members blocked an oil train in downtown Vancouver, WA in a creative direct action calling for an end to oil trains, oil terminals, and all fossil fuels. Community activists erected a pop-up garden of sunflowers on train tracks in Vancouver, WA today, even in the face of police presence, to block an oil train. The blockaders locked themselves to large sunflower pots adapted to serve as blockade devices. Three people arrested. Community members are taking non-violent direct action to demand Governor Inslee reject the Vancouver Tesoro Savage Oil Terminal and all other proposed fossil fuel infrastructure in the State of Washington.
Where: 101 W 11th St, Vancouver WA 98660
The train, BNSF unit 5956, is carrying Bakken Crude Oil, a highly volatile oil notorious for derailments and explosions such as the recent derailment and fire in Mosier, OR on June 3rd, 2016. The Mosier oil train derailment ignited a wave of massive public opposition to oil train traffic, including from government officials and train operators. “Our community and our planet are under attack, yet the political response has been amoral and inadequate. We were here on the tracks a year after the Mosier oil train derailment and nothing has changed,” said Jessie Braverman. “The trains are still coming and new fossil fuel projects are still being proposed; we’re in the midst of a worldwide climate emergency and we’re fighting back.”
The derailment and explosion in Mosier is just one manifestation of our society’s dependence on fossil fuels. This incident is not an anomaly, as fossil fuel extraction, production, and transportation continually present a threat to human life and natural ecosystems; we have been subsidizing them not only with money but with lives. In these early days of the sixth great extinction and a devastating climate crisis, community members are reclaiming their power to confront this rogue industry. “It’s now or never. We’re up against the wire and nobody — no politician, no agency, no industry — is stepping up to resolve the climate crisis,” said Mike, a resident of Portland, OR, who is locked to a flower pot on the rail tracks. “It’s time for the people to step up to resolve this crisis before we run out of time.”
Community members are calling on Governnor Jay Inslee to reject the proposed Tesoro Savage Vancouver Oil Terminal, which would be the largest oil-by-rail terminal in North America. The terminal would ship out 360,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil and bring up to four additional oil trains into the Columbia Gorge each day. 
Governor Jay Inslee, a self-proclaimed advocate for climate action, has overseen a state government that has failed to craft an emissions reductions strategy, despite being repeatedly ordered to do so by the courts. The Governor is flagrantly endangering the people of Washington state. Washington continues to move towards a dizzying array of new fossil fuel developments. “If I can stop an oil train, Governor Jay Inslee can stop an oil terminal,said Chris, one of two individuals locked down to flower pots on the rail tracks.
 
For on site interviews, contact Jessie Braverman, 617-833-9766. 
    
    
    
More information via the Shut Down Fossil Fuels- 
Twitter:@shutdownff 
    
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Rising Tide North America Statement on Trump’s Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement

San Francisco, CA– Today, the Trump Administration announced that they were pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Rising Tide North America responded with the following statement:

“In unsurprising news today, Donald J. Trump announced that the United States would be formally withdrawing from the Global Agreement on Climate Change finalized in Paris in December 2015.

Fulfilling yet another promise made in the 2016 election, Trump’s decision clearly demonstrates his callous disregard for our shared planet and for the communities that are bearing the brunt of violent changes in our climate and weather patterns.  While the administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is an inexcusable step backward in confronting the challenge of dramatic climate change it is not a particularly dramatic departure from the status quo approach to climate change that we have seen from both major political parties in the United States.

While the Paris Climate Agreement was widely applauded by mainstream environmental organizations, the agreement represents a global consensus on a neo-liberal corporate approach to global warming. The final deal, signed by over 200 nations, favored the rights and voices of corporations over the rights and voices of people across the planet. It excluded the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, omitted reparations to the Global South and lacked significant mechanics to implement its stated aspirational goal of reaching 1.5 degrees warming. Essentially, the Paris Climate Agreement represented false hope to large well-funded environmental groups and liberal governments across the planet.

While the Paris Agreement and the neo-liberal global consensus certainly falls far short of meaningfully addressing the current climate crisis, the rising authoritarianism and denial of climate science exhibited by the Trump administration embodies an even more dangerous direction. The appointment of right-wing climate denying politicians and fossil fuel executives into powerful positions at the Departments of State, Interior, Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency is troubling sign that struggles around environmental and climate justice will be more difficult. Furthermore, Trump’s disturbing rhetoric from global warming being a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to the criminalization of migrants, Muslims and many others further signals that truth, reason and equity are continued fabrications in the White House.

Regardless of the status of global climate agreements, we still live in a moment that demands people-powered escalation against the corporate state. As it becomes more and more apparent that the state is not interested in–or capable of–addressing the current climate crisis we must recognize that it is the responsibility of communities across the country and around the world to engage in bold direct action to stop the fossil fuel industry and build an equitable and ecologically sound future..

Today, as oil began flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and new revelations about DAPL’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, hiring a private mercenary firm to run a counterinsurgency operation against water protectors in North Dakota and elsewhere, Rising Tide North America will continue to stand in solidarity with movements and people directly affected by the climate crisis. We will continue to build people-powered movements in response to these threats upon all of our lives. We will organize direct action that mobilizes people to challenge ongoing racism, imperialism and capitalism perpetrated by politicians and corporations throughout the world.

Relying on governments and trying to work with corporations has been the dominant strategy of the mainstream environmental movement as a whole for over 50 years. This has failed, utterly. Only by relying on each other, taking risks, and escalating – even in the face of the ongoing criminalization of direct action– can we preserve a livable, just planet for all.”

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Rising Tide North America is an all-volunteer anti-capitalist climate justice network working to challenge the root cause of climate change.