For Immediate Release
San Francisco, CA — Today, the California Public Utilities Commission heard comments from frontline communities and organizations on the agency’s failure to stop the proposed increase in gas storage from SoCalGas at Aliso Canyon, needless expansion of a SoCalGas compressor station in Ventura, and its inaction after PG&E’s admission of culpability in the Dixie Fire. Members of frontline communities from Playa Del Rey, Ventura and Aliso Canyon joined their voices to demand the transition to clean energy and denial of SoCalGas’ request to expand storage at Aliso Canyon.
“The California Public Utilities Commission has failed frontline communities for too long, prioritizing profit-seeking utility interests over public health and environmental justice,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy. “SoCalGas is requesting more storage capacity in direct contradiction of Governor Newsom’s order to shut the facility down after the country’s most catastrophic gas blowout. Allegiance to for-profit utilities like SoCalGas and PG&E stands in direct opposition to public welfare and environmental justice. These utilities must be held accountable for their contribution to widespread sickness and climate change-fueled wildfires. The CPUC has a clear opportunity to show its commitment to the public health of California residents by breaking this allegiance and denying SoCalGas’ expansion of Aliso Canyon, ordering an Environmental Impact Review for its expansion of an unnecessary gas compressor in Ventura, and beginning the transition to public power by disciplining and dismantling PG&E.”
SoCalGas is also undertaking a massive expansion of its gas compressor site in Ventura’s Westside neighborhood — a location already plagued with decades of pollution and environmental justice violations. While the CPUC committed to sending a letter requiring SoCalGas to hold a public forum and explain the details of its gas compressor expansion, the agency made no mention of the Environmental Impact Review demanded by the community, which has also formed coalitions to oppose the facility expansion.
“The community is forcing public forums to be held,” said Ventura resident Margot Davis. “They have the unanimous support of their City Council, School Board members, State Assembly members, and they have corporate funding support. They’re trying to do the job this commission is charged to do. Wake up. Rein in SoCalGas.”
PG&E has also gone without a response from the CPUC after its admission that it probably bears responsibility for the Dixie Fire, now the 6th largest wildfire in California’s history.
Pete Woiwode with the Reclaim Our Power Utility Justice Campaign compared the CPUC’s response to PG&E’s involvement in the start of wildfires with the tepid response of lawmakers after shootings prompt discussions of gun control, “We want more than thoughts and prayers. We want action. And you are empowered to do so. We demand that you hold PG&E accountable, reject their safety certificate, and move us closer to an energy system run by the people, not Wall St. We need you all to take your responsibility seriously.”
Ten hours elapsed between the time PG&E recognized its culpability in the fire and the time it notified CalFire. The CPUC is tasked with regulating privately owned gas companies and promoting the “access to safe, clean, and affordable utility services and infrastructure.”
Contact: Jessica Gable, (202) 683-2478, [email protected]