Consumer Watchdog monitors California’s gas, electric, and oil companies, including municipal and investor-owned utilities, to protect ratepayers, consumers and the environment. We police the recycling industry to make sure consumers get their bottle deposits back, recycling is deposed of appropriately, and programs are effective.
Our nonprofit worked decades ago to fight and rollback California’s electric deregulation debacle, including stopping a ratepayer bailout in the legislature and getting ratepayers’ money back. We fight today to prevent Californians from being duped again by similar utility and energy industry scams.
In recent years, Consumer Watchdog established the PUC Papers to document the players and their roles in the corruption scandal that has plagued California’s Public Utilities Commission, or PUC. The searchable database of more than 100,000 documents is a public resource for researchers, journalists and activists.
Consumer Watchdog has also fought price gouging by oil companies with extensive research and reporting on their price and supply manipulations. We have policed the California’s regulator of toxics and toxics industry, creating change in oversight and spurring cleanup of toxic sites. This includes a pending legal case against Boeing for cleanup of the Santa Susana nuclear waste site outside Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, CA—The California Assembly refused to act on a budget proposal put forth by the Senate to shore up Californian’s collapsing bottle deposit system and to offer consumers convenient ways to return bottles and cans for deposit. The refusal comes as CalRecycle, the state’s regulator, reported the latest redemption rate—the rate at which consumer receive their CRV deposits back—fell to 56% for the month of June.
Los Angeles, CA—The denial by the California Geologic Energy Management Division of 21 Aera Energy fracking permits is a win for public health and the environment, Consumer Watchdog said today.
“We applaud the Newsom Administration for finally using its discretion to deny Area destructive and dangerous fracking permits,” consumer advocate Liza Tucker said today. “This step is in concert with Governor Newsom’s goal of banning all fracking by 2024, though we believe that a ban across the board should be immediate.”
Los Angeles, CA — Legislation backed by the waste hauling industry and authored by Santa Monica Assembly Member Richard Bloom would make fewer grocery and other retail stores available to the public to accept empty cans and bottles and redeem California Redemption Value (CRV) deposits of a nickel or dime.
Sacramento, CA — SB 38 (D-Wieckowski), a bill to overhaul the state’s bottle deposit program by forcing the beverage industry to create an accessible recycling and redemption system for its bottles and cans, passed the Senate 23 to 8 in a major victory for consumers and the environment, Consumer Watchdog said today. The bill now heads to the Assembly.
Los Angeles, CA— A muckraking report on the reasons for the failure of California’s bottle deposit system, which currently has a 57% redemption rate, puts the blame on the waste hauling industry.
Los Angeles, CA — Nancy Hannickel, 75, a long-time resident of West Los Angeles, has bags of thousands of bottles and cans in her yard that carry a California Redemption Value (CRV) of a nickel or a dime. But she can’t get those nickel and dime deposits refunded—anywhere in West LA.
Los Angeles, CA — Governor Newson’s ban on fracking in 2024 is a step in the right direction, and with the number of permit approvals falling dramatically so far this year, he has a perfect opening to take even stronger steps, Consumer Watchdog said today.
Los Angeles, CA — SB 38 (D- Wieckowski), a bill to save the collapsing bottle deposit system by putting the responsibility for recycling empty CRV containers onto the beverage industry, passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee today in a decisive first step towards modernizing California’s rigid and antiquated system, Consumer Watchdog said today.
The bill, which passed by a vote on 5 to 2, next goes to Senate Appropriations Committee.
Los Angeles, CA— With redemption centers closing at a record pace, now major supermarket chains that must choose to either redeem bottle deposits in store or pay a daily fee to the state are buying their way out of in-store redemption in record numbers.
75% of Whole Foods Market stores have opted out of having to recycle. With few places to get their bottle and can deposits returned, California’s redemption rate for 2020 has sunk to a low of 58%, leaving it third to last among ten bottle deposit states.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog today welcomed newly introduced state legislation—SB 467—to ban fracking and a host of other more commonly employed and dangerous techniques used to coax stubborn-and-hard to reach oil and gas out of the ground.
Los Angeles, CA — The latest data on the bottle and can redemption rate for 2020 for the first eleven months, put out by the Governor’s recycling regulator CalRecycle, show that only 58.9% of Californians who pay deposits on beverages from beer to sodas are directly claiming deposit refunds, Consumer Watchdog said today. The rate is a full 10% less than what it was at the beginning of 2020 and does not appear to be recovering.
The lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of Antwon Jones, who was the average man caught in the middle of a fraud on the court over the LA DWP billing scandal, is a stunning and well-documented indictment of the failure of the City Attorney to represent the city.
Los Angeles, CA — California oil regulators more than doubled the dispensing of permits in 2020 to drill new oil and gas production wells, issuing more than 1,700 in 2020, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance reported today.
At the same time, the Newsom Administration failed to meet its own New Year’s Eve deadline for a draft rule designating the safe distance for drilling from a community, giving itself until Spring. Public interest groups who have pushed for a 2,500-foot setback are troubled by the delay. States such as Colorado have instituted setbacks of 2,000 feet.
Los Angeles, CA — Between July and September of 2020, the rate of consumer redemption of empty beverage containers fell another two percentage points to 58%, according to beverage sales data from CalRecycle, the state’s overseer of the bottle deposit program.
That means 42% of annual consumer bottle deposits—or about $546 million paid through September this year—is not being returned to consumers who could really use that money, according to Consumer Watchdog.
Los Angeles, CA — Oil companies received 160% more oil production drilling permits in the first nine months of 2020 over the year before, but the number of oil wells drilled in California has slowed to a trickle, Consumer Watchdog and the FracTracker Alliance said today. The two groups updated the permit numbers and locations on an interactive map at the website: http://www.NewsomWellWatch.com.
Los Angeles, CA—State data show that California consumers left $60 million in unredeemed bottle and can deposits with the state in the first six months of 2020 as the redemption rate for consumers plunged to 60.2% from 66% in the face of the pandemic and a deepening economic crisis for redemption centers.
Data published by the state recycling regulator, CalRecycle, show:
Los Angeles, CA — The Newsom Administration issued six more fracking permits to Aera Energy late on Friday afternoon at a time of great risk to the environment and to the public health of affected communities also exposed to Covid 19, Consumer Watchdog said today.
The number of fracking permits issued this year—despite a nine-month moratorium imposed by Newsom that ended last April—now comes to 54 issued to Aera and Chevron.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog and the FracTracker Alliance challenged the state’s Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk “to be honest with the public about the data” on oil drilling in the state. They stated his refusal to acknowledge data published by the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) “sullies CalGEM and reflects poorly on an Administration that claims desperately to want to stem the cruel tide of climate change.”
Los Angeles, CA — As COVID-19 cases shattered California daily records in the second quarter of 2020, oil regulators under Gov. Newsom also shattered records for dispensing new oil and gas production well drilling permits, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance said today.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog urged Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to shut down a last-minute attempt by waste haulers, grocers and recyclers to steal consumers’ bottle deposit refunds and make the system less available to them, the group said.
Los Angeles, CA— The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog called on Governor Gavin Newsom not to give retailers another exemption from their duty to refund bottle and can deposits, warning it could decimate the fragile deposit system.
Los Angeles, CA — Oil and gas regulators at the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) no longer hold oil stocks or other interests in the sector that they regulate in a radical departure from past practices, Consumer Watchdog said today.
A new conflict of interest policy at the division’s parent agency, the Department of Conservation (DOC), now prohibits such investments without explicit written approval by DOC’s director.
Los Angeles, CA — Governor Gavin Newsom gave supermarkets and other dealers of beverages carrying a five or ten cent deposit another 60-day reprieve on refunding deposits, putting greater pressure on too few redemption centers to serve millions of Californians. California now joins Iowa’s Republican Governor as the only states letting the retailers off the hook for redeeming bottles.
Los Angeles, CA — The first definitive study showing perinatal harm from oil production in California to pregnant mothers proves that the state must institute a barrier of 2,500 feet between residents and oil wells and stop issuing new oil permits for wells within that zone, Consumer Watchdog said today.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog called upon Governor Gavin Newsom to prevent oil companies from receiving approvals for new oil wells without first requiring full bonding for their clean-up.
Los Angeles, CA—As the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded, new oil well permits under Gov. Gavin Newsom rose 7.8% in the first quarter of 2020 through April 4, compared to the first quarter of 2019, Consumer Watchdog and FrackTrackerAlliance reported today. The Newsom Administration issued 1,623 permits during the first quarter of 2020. It also approved 24 fracking permits after a nine-month moratorium. The total number of permits issued under Newsom since he took office in January 2019 is 6,168.
As if California has not had enough bad news, fracking is now back.
The newly-named Cal-GEM or California Geologic Energy Management Division, late Friday and under the cover of the Covid-19 crisis, approved two dozen fracking permits, the first since Governor Newsom froze all fracking in the state last summer.
Los Angeles, CA—The total number of oil and gas well permits issued in 2019 under the Newsom Administration rivals the number issued in 2018 during the last year in office of former Governor Jerry Brown, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance reported today. The Newsom Administration issued just 1% fewer permits for a total of 4,545 versus 4,590 for all of 2018.
Los Angeles, CA - Consumer Watchdog hailed the imminent departure of the Department of Conservation’s Chief Deputy Director, widely seen as an impediment to environmental reform, as a sign that Governor Newsom plans to overhaul the way oil and gas is regulated in the state.
Los Angeles, CA — A major reform bill to fix California’s broken bottle deposit system and get consumers back hundreds of millions in unredeemed deposits failed in the California Senate today after the wine and liquor industry joined with the beverage industry to unleash their lobbyists against the proposal. The bill is now on the inactive file after failing on the floor last night with 17 votes in favor.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court said in testimony today before the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on bottle deposit reform legislation, SB 372, that it is time for the beverage industry to take responsibility for recycling the empties that their beverages leave behind, as is done in all other successful bottle deposit programs here and around the world.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog reported today that a major overhaul of the state’s once-vaunted bottle deposit system is needed to make drink makers responsible for refunding deposits or consumers will continue to lose a greater share of the roughly $1.5 billion a year they pay in nickel and dime deposits. Redemption centers that redeem bottle and can deposits are closing in the face of economic hardship.
Says Big Win For Consumers Must Be Followed With Continued Enforcement
Los Angeles, CA -- After years of paltry enforcement of California’s 1986 bottle deposit law against stores selling beverages that charge bottle deposits but don’t return them, CalRecycle signaled today that it means business with a $3.6 million fine against CVS stores, Consumer Watchdog said today.
Los Angeles, CA—Consumer Watchdog welcomed the resignation today of the CalRecycle Director as a first step in overhauling the troubled agency in charge of the state’s failing bottle deposit system. CAL-EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld confirmed the resignation to Consumer Watchdog this afternoon.
Los Angeles, CA—Since mid-July, state regulators have not issued a new permit for fracking or acidizing in California and have slowed the overall rate of permitting oil wells. Nonetheless, state regulators have granted oil permits at a pace that is 8.8% greater in the first ten months of 2019 than in the same period last year under Governor Jerry Brown, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance said today based on an analysis of state data.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog said today that a new state report finding that major oil companies are overcharging their own stations in order to gouge California consumers vindicates the analysis that it has made since 2015 and requires new state laws to protect drivers.
The nonprofit nonpartisan consumer group applauded Governor Newsom’s call for an investigation and possible prosecution by the California Attorney General into the problem.
Los Angeles-- The Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating two regulators at the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources for conflicts of interests raised in a July complaint by Consumer Watchdog.
Sacramento, CA — Amendments to AB 54 (Ting) last night freed $5 million for beleaguered consumer recycling centers, seeming to seal what appears to be a short-term band-aid for recycling center problems until a larger solution is developed next year. AB 54 already provided $5 million for mobile recycling and a short few months exemption for grocers affected by August recycling center closures that would otherwise have to redeem bottle and can deposits earlier.
Seek Exemption From Recycling Responsibilities As Consumers Turn To Stores For Deposits
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today condemned eleventh-hour legislation by Senator Steve Glazer, SB 643, that would exempt thousands of grocery stores statewide from the obligation to recycle consumers’ bottles and cans and return their five and ten cent deposits. The bill was amended Saturday to be heard during the last five days of the legislative session.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog today urged Governor Newsom to crack down on the state’s recycling regulator CalRecycle and to take urgent steps that save the state’s bottle deposit program in the long and short term.
“The closure of the largest recycling chain in the state, rePlanet, has cut the number of recycling centers available to Californians in half over the last six years,” Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court wrote in a letter to Governor Newsom. “CalRecycle has long known about these problems, but it has failed to act.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog said the closure of the largest operator of bottle redemption centers in the state, rePlanet, today requires the Governor to prioritize recycling reform in the coming months. rePlanet closed its last 284 centers today, leaving consumers with few places to receive bottle and can deposit refunds.
Consumer Watchdog called for CALRecycle, the state agency in charge of recycling, to immediately require every grocery and convenience store chain to begin redeeming bottles and cans.
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog responded to news that the FBI had served search warrants on the City Attorney and DWP by saying that it was critical that evidence was being preserved in what is likely a case of conspiracy to defraud the courts and the ratepayers. However, the nonprofit group expressed remorse about how LA leaders handled the crisis it has exposed over the last three and one half years.
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog today thanked Governor Gavin Newsom for firing the state’s top oil and gas supervisor and instituting an ethics review of the state’s oil well approval and inspection process in response to its recent report of conflicts at the agency and request.
Los Angeles, CA -- A review of state conflict of interest forms shows that eight regulators managing the state’s oil and gas well approval and inspection process have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in the oil companies they regulate. One of the regulators is among the top three in command at the State’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).
Can Sacramento help wildfire victims get paid without bailing out the investor-owned utilities that claim they cannot pay for all of the wildfires they start?
The debate came to a head today in the California Senate Energy and Utilities Committee, where a parade of skeptics gave tenuous support to a proposal by the Newsom Administration. It tries to make sure shareholders pay for fires utilities start and ratepayers pay for fires where the utilities aren't at fault.
Santa Monica, CA --- At the site of the soon-to-be shuttered Santa Monica Community Recycling Center, consumer advocates called on California lawmakers and regulators to rescue the failing redemption industry. The center, closing Saturday, is the last redemption center west of the 405, serving 200,000 people on LA's Westside.
Los Angeles, CA—Consumer Watchdog has asked the Newsom Administration to avert the closure of more recycling centers that redeem empty glass, aluminum, and plastic beverage containers by funding centers long enough to reform the container deposit system.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog said today that the California Energy Commission under Governor Gavin Newsom is finally taking steps to confront artificially high gasoline prices in California by acknowledging the role of oil refiners' supply and retail price manipulation in sky-high pump prices.
Santa Monica, CA --- At the site of the soon-to-be shuttered Santa Monica Community Recycling Center, consumer advocates called on California lawmakers and regulators to rescue the failing redemption industry. The center, closing Saturday, is the last redemption center west of the 405, serving 200,000 people on LA's Westside.
Los Angeles, CA — Two thirds of fifty Los Angeles-area grocery, convenience and drug stores that are required by the state to refund consumer deposits for empty beverage containers refused to issue refunds, according to a random audit in Los Angeles by Consumer Watchdog.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog said today that a California wildfire victims’ relief fund could be important, but that the proposal put forth today by Governor Newsom, in legislative hands, threatens to take rights and dollars from wildfire victims, ratepayers and taxpayers without forcing PG&E to make tangible concessions.
Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer supported a deceptive notice to ratepayers in a class action settlement over the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to a City slush fund, according to attorneys for Consumer Watchdog.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog has called upon Attorney General Xavier Becerra to take over a public corruption investigation at the LA City Attorney's Office involving a conspiracy by just-resigned special counsels who colluded in a conspiracy to defraud ratepayers of relief in an LADWP mis-billing lawsuit.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog has called upon City Attorney Mike Feuer to fully respond to revelations in LA Superior Court that his top attorneys and special counsels colluded in a conspiracy to defraud ratepayers of relief in an LADWP mis-billing lawsuit.
Los Angeles, CA—For every nickel bottle or can deposit that California consumers pay in the grocery store checkout line, they only get back 2.65 cents, or 53%, of their deposit, according to an investigative report on the state’s beverage container recycling system.
The report by the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog finds that of the $1.5 billion consumers pay in deposits, they leave $732 million behind.
PG&E lists $51.69 billion in debts, while warnings erupt of higher power bills due to bankruptcy case
By George Avalos, THE MERCURY NEWS
January 29, 2019
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog called for the ouster of the California Public Utilities Commission over its decision late Monday to extend a $6 billion credit line to Pacific Gas & Electric in an unneeded emergency process that allowed no time for scrutiny. The unprecedented vote makes it easier for PG&E to go into bankruptcy today and avoid accountability to wildfire victims, ratepayers and taxpayers.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog said today that PG&E prematurely filed bankruptcy protection to drive a political bailout of the company and gain leverage over what and when it pays victims of fires it started. Bankruptcy could delay what victims receive from the company for its negligence for years.
Los Angeles, CA -- In a letter to California’s legislative leaders, Consumer Watchdog today wrote that the shocking details of a utility junket in Maui with 12 state lawmakers while wildfires destroyed the state should compel new immediate online disclosures about such trips.
As wildfire victims fled for their lives in Paradise and Malibu this November, utility executives and lobbyists for California's big utilities were wining and dining 12 influential state legislators in a different paradise -- Wailea, Maui.
The New York Times broke the story about the junket and the discussion about the wildfires there, which had to include the the inevitable bailout for the utilities that helped spark the blaze.
Governor Jerry Brown fancied himself a climate change warrior and so does Governor Elect Gavin Newsom. But if Newsom really wants to do something to avert catastrophic climate change, he’ll have to undo some of what his predecessor did, and then go much further.
Assembly Member Chris Holden is the point man for Pacific Gas and Electric on its legislative bailout plans over the 2018 fires. That's why we paid his holiday party a visit. Watch us sing Chris Holden our holiday carols.
First, we carolers had to convince some beefy Pasadena police that we didn’t come to Assemblyman Chris Holden’s Christmas open house at his district office to disrupt the festivities and dirty up the place (though we did leave a lunch bag of coal behind).
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog called the City Council’s vote to reappoint Fred Pickel as the head of the DWP’s Office of Public Accountability without a job review a power play and public disgrace that will leave them without a voice. Mayor Garcetti will still have the opportunity to reject Pickel.
Governor Brown may not have lit the match that set off the recent wild fires in Sonoma and Napa, but he has responsibility for failing to clear the tinder that spread the flames.
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog called on Mayor Garcetti to support a new city council motion by council members Koretz and Bonnin requiring a job review for the DWP Ratepayer Advocate Fred Pickel before his rehiring to the $298,000 per year job heading the DWP’s Office of Public Accountability. Pickel has not had a job review in his 6 and-a-half years on the job.
Los Angeles, CA -- The re-nomination for a second term of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s ratepayer advocate, Fred Pickel, by a city-appointed committee is a betrayal of all of the municipal utility’s ratepayers, Consumer Watchdog said today. The Mayor and City Council should reject the recommendation or abolish the Office of Public Accountability that Pickel heads, the group said.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog today urged the President of the California Public Utilities Commission, Michael Picker, to launch a public investigation of Pacific Gas & Electric’s shutoff of power to thousands of customers in Northern California over the weekend due to high wind advisories.
Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog today called the process of picking a new ratepayer advocate to head the Office of Public Accountability at the LA Department of Water and Power biased and called for an immediate investigation by the LA City Controller.
“We write with evidence of misconduct in the selection of a new Ratepayer Advocate and call upon Controller Galperin to investigate immediately,” Consumer Watchdog's Jamie Court and Liza Tucker wrote in a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Controller Ron Galperin.
San Francisco, CA — A 30-second tv ad featuring a 9-year old girl admonishing Governor Brown for allowing oil drilling next to homes airs today on CNN and MSNBC in advance of Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit kick-off this week in San Francisco. The "Jerry's Kids" tv ad campaign is paid for by nonprofits Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog congratulated legislative leaders and Governor Brown today for pushing through and signing SB 100, historic legislation that sets out to decarbonize the electricity sector completely by 2045. But the nonprofit group said Brown still must use its executive powers to stop neighborhood oil drilling and take on oil drilling directly.
Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog thanked Governor Brown for signing important legislation today trying to stop activation of oil wells in federal waters. The nonprofit group noted that Brown has jurisdiction over four times more state oil wells in state waters off California’s coast than oil wells Trump has control of in federal waters off the coast and Brown needs to shut those wells down. (Click on this map for the details)
Adults have gotten nowhere calling on Jerry Brown to limit oil drilling within a couple thousand feet of homes and schools.
This 30 second TV ad features a nine-year-old trying to get through to California’s 80-year old governor with some very strong words.
Los Angeles, CA — On the last night of the California legislative session, Senate pro Tem Toni Atkins stood up to political and industry pressure and stopped passage of legislation that would have threatened consumers with electricity price manipulation and the invalidation of state environmental laws, according to leading public interest groups.
SACRAMENTO, CA — Environmental and consumer advocates today urged Governor Jerry Brown to resist the threat of a Trump takeover of the California electricity grid and to also oppose Trump’s plans to frack and drill California. A western regional electricity market would subject Californians to increased power imports from coal-heavy states and higher bills from speculation on power contracts, in a regional grid under the oversight of the Trump administration.
Sacramento, CA -- Consumer Watchdog released evidence today showing that the co-chairman of the conference committee convened to discuss taking wildfire victims' legal rights rushed witnesses to end a key hearing in order to get to his fundraiser across the street attended by PG&E and other utility lobbyists.
SACRAMENTO, CA—Consumer Watchdog’s President Jamie Court spoke today at a rally of wildfire survivors and urged legislators not to give in to PG&E and the other utilities’ demands to take victims’ rights to hold the companies legally accountable for damage caused by their equipment.
Los Angeles, CA -- As the Governor is expected to announce special deliberations on utility proposals shortly, Consumer Watchdog offered new information to the legislature about problems with the proposed new Western power market. The group warned that legislation to subsume California’s electricity grid into a giant regional power trading system will not only open the state to trading manipulation, but permanently hobble California when it comes to prosecuting Enron-style manipulation in the future.
Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today launched a web site that allows you to compare California offshore wells under the control of Governor Jerry Brown and President Donald Trump.
Los Angeles, CA — The California Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee voted today to pass legislation turning California into a giant Western power trading casino that puts ratepayers and the environment at risk, Consumer Watchdog said in condemning the vote for AB 813.
Los Angeles, CA— California leaders are being pressed by former allies of Enron and energy traders who ripped off the state to gamble away California’s energy future on the revival of a plan for a Western regional power trading system that will benefit billionaires and Wall Street and put ratepayers and the environment at risk, Consumer Watchdog finds in a new report.
Sacramento, CA -- In a letter to the 120 members of the California legislature, Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court warned that a bailout of California's three investor owned utilities for causing wildfires would "almost certainly be the greatest disgrace for this legislature since its decision two decades ago to deregulate electricity and turn over our energy supply to the Enron pirates."
"The integrity, duty and reputation of this legislature should outweigh the largess these three utilities have showered upon the members of its houses," Court said.
Five months before Governor’s climate summit in San Francisco, climate groups call on Governor to “walk the talk” on climate and stand up to the oil and gas industry
Santa Monica, CA — Instead of pushing the country’s largest municipal utility to be leaner, greener, and meaner, Fred Pickel, the first ratepayer advocate ever appointed to protect the interests of LADWP ratepayers, has fallen down on the job. A new report, “The Price of Pickel” by Consumer Watchdog, finds that his failure to speak up for ratepayers against unreasonable rate hikes and bad projects is costing ratepayers nearly $7 billion.
For the report, click here.
New analysis released today by the Stockholm Environment Institute finds that limiting oil production in California would lead to substantial greenhouse gas emission cuts at a cost comparable to other state climate policies. The analysis shows that addressing oil production in California -- something Governor Brown has thus far resisted -- will have critical climate, health, and global leadership benefits.
Santa Monica, CA—Consumer Watchdog urged Governor Jerry Brown to direct state oil regulators to publicly post all oil well leaks in the state after learning that the state is tracking all spills from wells of oil, drilling fluids, and toxic water but not disclosing them.
A Superior Court Judge today approved a settlement of a class action lawsuit brought against the Department of Water & Power (DWP) and City of Los Angeles for illegally taxing ratepayers billions of dollars on their power bills and using it for city services, rejecting our objection. Under 2010’s voter-approved Prop 26, money raised from power rates that is not used to improve utility service is an illegal tax and to make it lega
Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog has urged LA City Attorney Mike Feuer to oppose a deceptive and inadequate Notice to ratepayers in a class action settlement over the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in power rates to City coffers.
Santa Monica, CA -- 30 environmental and public interest groups urged Governor Brown to articulate a new plan for keeping oil in the ground as the next step to his acknowledgment that turning the course of climate change will require extraordinary new action.
Santa Monica, CA — Governor Jerry Brown should immediately stop all offshore drilling in state waters in response to President Trump’s decision to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic, including in federal waters off of California, Consumer Watchdog said today.
Carolers raised their voices before the Governor’s Mansion last night, singing “Jerry Brown Jerry Brown, Keep It In The Ground” to the tune of Jingle Bells and also Consumer Watchdog’s 12 Days of Brown Christmas, both remakes of classic carols that highlight his dirty energy policies.
Santa Monica, CA—As Sempra’s Aliso Canyon natural gas reserve sprang another leak this week, reigniting nosebleeds and headaches among nearby LA County residents, Consumer Watchdog released an animation featuring Governor Jerry Brown and an updated "Twelve Days of Christmas" song highlighting his support for fossil fuels and dirty energy policies.
Governor Jerry Brown sells himself as one of the world’s foremost climate change warriors. But as long as he protects the oil industry, California will miss its ambitious 2030 greenhouse gas emissions targets.
In Europe recently, Governor Brown touted “cap-and-trade” as the answer. A new report by Near Zero, an adviser to the state on its market mechanism to control emissions, shows why he is wrong.
Santa Monica, CA -- Today’s vote by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners for LADWP to transfer $242 million in ratepayer money to the City’s coffers is an illegal tax that should be either rebated or plowed into the LADWP’s electric infrastructure, said Consumer Watchdog and LADWP Advocacy Committee President Jack Humphreville.
Consumer Watchdog said that it was exploring legal options to have a court prevent the money from being taken from ratepayers to fill a city budget hole rather than for utility services.
Santa Monica, CA — The Board of Water and Power Commissioners for LADWP has put on its agenda a Tuesday vote to transfer nearly $242 million from “surplus” power rates — overcharges to ratepayers — to fill a hole in the city budget without voter approval at the ballot box.
Consumer Watchdog said such a so-called “transfer fee” should be illegal under Prop 26, which requires voter approval for such fees because they are really taxes.
When President Trump moved to expand the Keystone pipeline to the Gulf, we warned him that it wasn't just a risk to the land, but the economy.
The report Consumer Watchdog issued in 2013 along with Tom Steyer, in his pre-impeachment campaign days, showed the pipeline was going to drive up gasoline prices in the Midwest.
Santa Monica, CA — As protestors heckled Governor Jerry Brown during his tour abroad for failing to leave oil and gas in the ground, new scientific research shows that his signature greenhouse gas trading program to cut emissions is ineffective.
Los Angeles, CA — As California’s Governor traverses the world urging it to wake up to climate change, California’s leading consumer group called on Brown to take note of how much tougher Europe is on oil and gas companies than he has been. Brown has yet to support or approve limits on fossil fuel infrastructure in California, even though he has increased renewable energy and efficiency standards and championed low carbon fuel standards.
Corruption can kill.
The fires that laid waste to California’s Wine Country and at least 42 lives were not merely the product of a changing climate and extra-heated winds.
Early reports suggest the failure of Gov. Jerry Brown and his appointees to adequately regulate our public utilities to prevent such fires also fueled the fast-moving flames.
Santa Monica, CA — Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation merging two water districts to benefit Five Point Holdings, builder of a massive new development called Newhall Ranch in northern L.A. County. Kathleen Brown, the governor’s sister, sits on the board and was paid $122,667 in 2016, according to a Five Point prospectus filed with the SEC.
Santa Monica, CA — Governor Brown’s sister Kathleen was paid $122,667 in 2016 as a member of the board of Five Point Holdings, a developer about to benefit from Governor Jerry Brown’s signature on a bill crafted to ensure that its controversial planned community called Newhall Ranch has plentiful access to water in a thirsty desert, Consumer Watchdog said today.
Santa Monica, CA — The California Senate completed Governor Jerry Brown’s consolidation of the California Public Utility Commission in the hands of three of his closest former aides and two of his former appointees, guaranteeing half a decade of influence by the utility-friendly Governor long after he leaves office, Consumer Watchdog said today.
Dozens of water agencies and millions of families and farmers could be on the hook for building two giant tunnels to carry Northern California's water southward under new plans to shore up funding for the $16 billion project.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Dozens of water agencies and millions of families and farmers would be on the hook for building two giant tunnels to carry Northern California's water southward under new plans to shore up funding for Gov. Jerry Brown's $16 billion project.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s two latest nominees to the California Public Utilities Commission were confirmed by state lawmakers in the closing hours of the legislative session despite a campaign to stop one of the nominations.
The confirmations of Commissioners Clifford Rechtschaffen and Martha Guzman Aceves were announced Saturday by commission spokeswoman Terrie Prosper.
Several groups have gathered at Los Angeles City Hall today to call for the firing of an official watchdog charged with fighting for the interests of Department of Water and Power customers.
Representatives of Consumer Watchdog and other groups say the utility’s official “ratepayer advocate,” Fred Pickel, has not been working on the side of utility customers. As a result, they have launched a campaign to oust him.
Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog, Food & Water Watch, DWP ratepayers and other advocacy groups rally today in front of City Hall to urge the Los Angeles City Council to fire DWP ratepayer advocate Fred Pickel for selling out ratepayers instead of protecting their interests.
“Pickel is an energy consultant whose bread has always been buttered by utilities," said Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker. "He has taken every opportunity to support LADWP while disregarding ratepayers and providing dismal customer service.
As the legislature ended its business for the year in the early morning hours, legislative leaders proclaimed a prolific progressive session. Not so if you care about consumer protection.
Key public interest causes were abandoned because of the power of the usual moneyed interest groups and the dependency of state house politicians on them.
The late-session plan to restructure management of the California power grid skidded to a halt Wednesday in the wake of growing opposition from interest groups and a spate of negative publicity.
While lobbyists and advocacy groups spent much of the week pressing for passage or defeat of the proposal long-backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the lawmaker who introduced the bill withdrew his dual measures early in the afternoon.
According to Natural Resources Defense Council, which backs the move towards regionalization of western energy markets, Holden has said the issue will likely be revisited in January during the second half of California’s two-year session.
For now, the conservation group sees a lost opportunity. A quarter of the country's power flows through the Western grid, connecting more than a dozen states, two Canadian provinces and Northern Mexico. Nearly 40 separate entities manage day-to-day grid operations.
There is just one reason lawmakers try to push through rewritten bills in the final days of the California Legislature’s session each and every September: It’s because they know the more scrutiny the proposals get, the less chance they have of passage. That’s a contemptible, undemocratic rationale.
Sacramento, CA – A public backlash against Governor Brown’s eleventh hour attempt to give Western energy barons and Trump officials power over California’s energy and the state’s laws has ended for the year.
Assembly Member Chris Holden has stated his last-minute bills will not go forward after activists and newspaper editorial boards condemned the backroom dealing and ramrod of complex proposals with only days left in the legislative session.
Santa Monica, CA — Governor Brown’s former cabinet secretary, and former executive for Pacific Gas & Electric, Dana Williamson, is said to be lobbying in the state Capitol to ramrod through reauthorization of a regional trading market for electricity that set up the state’s disastrous energy crisis two decades ago, according to legislative sources.
Sacramento, CA – Consumer Watchdog today wrote the California Senate that a proposal backed by Governor Brown for a regional electricity market would allow Donald Trump’s appointees to invalidate California ratepayer and environmental protection laws.
The last-minute legislation has the backing of some of the same corporate environmentalist groups and unions that backed electricity deregulation in the late 1990s and in fact reauthorizes a law first passed during California’s deregulation debacle to create a Western trading market.
A Los Angeles City Council committee heard public debate Tuesday over the amount that a massive project known as the California Water Fix could add to the water bills of local ratepayers.
Young children play in the back yard under the shade of an avocado tree. The kids dig holes while their grandfather makes homemade guacamole. It's a scene that's played out at the Mariz family home in Maywood for years.
But no more.
"They found lead throughout my front yard but not as bad as the backyard. The backyard is worse," said Reynaldo Mariz.
Lead levels are so high that state officials have told Mariz to stay out of his backyard until it's cleaned. But until recently, his grand kids played in the contaminated dirt all the time.
Jane Fowler says she’s crippled with fear over Southern California Gas Co. resuming injections at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility near her home.
The Granada Hills resident has endured headaches and nausea in recent years, she said, that would vanish when she distanced herself from the underground storage field, site of the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history.
One day after Sempra Energy’s regulated natural gas utility announced it had reopened the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage plant, a Southern California consumer activist group raised new questions about the San Diego energy giant’s close ties to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The Governor’s Office rejected the groups’ report as old and baseless, saying there are no conflicts of interest and Brown-appointed regulators are holding utilities to account.
Do regulators in California have your back when utilities or industries run amok, or when there’s a threat to public health in your neighborhood?
Depending on how things go in a scheduled Aug. 23 state Senate confirmation hearing on Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest choice for a seat on the powerful state Public Utilities Commission, many millions of consumers could face both health risks and higher-than-necessary electric, gas and water bills for the next six years.
That’s the length of the term to which Brown appointed his longtime close aide Clifford Rechtschaffen, labeled a “lapdog” of the oil industry by some consumer advocates. Once confirmed, he can’t be fired by either Brown or the next governor.
The recent reopening of the Aliso Canyon natural gas reserve, source of the largest methane leak in U.S. history, should remind state lawmakers that regulation is as worthy of their focus as legislation.
A confirmation hearing on Wednesday for Gov. Jerry Brown’s top aide on oil and gas to the Public Utilities Commission gives the state Senate an opportunity to set the record straight on Aliso Canyon and the Achilles’ heel of the Brown administration.
There are some indications that Clifford Rechtschaffen, one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s two latest appointments to the state Public Utilities Commission, would be more of an advocate for utilities than for consumers, ratepayers and those adversely affected by environmental issues.
That’s why the Senate Rules Committee needs to ask tough questions of Rechtschaffen in his confirmation hearing this week.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California Senate panel gave narrow approval Wednesday to Gov. Jerry Brown's two recent appointees to a powerful utilities commission after imploring them to restore public trust in an agency that's been damaged by scandals and environmental disasters, including the largest-known methane gas leak in U.S. history.
The California Senate Rules Committee voted 3 to 0 on August 23 to confirm Governor Jerry Brown’s nomination of Clifford Rechtschaffen and Martha Guzman Aceves as commissioners on the California Public Utilities Commission, but Senate leaders said the two have serious questions to answer before the confirmation is put to a floor vote.
Consumer advocates speaking at the hearing strongly opposed Rechtschaffen because of his history of coziness with Big Oil and Big Gas interests under the Brown administration. Nobody at the hearing voiced specific opposition to Aceves’ confirmation.
Los Angeles, CA -- The Los Angeles City Council should reject a recommendation by Fred Pickel, Director of the Office of Public Accountability at the LADWP, that the city back tunnels altering water diversions South from the San Francisco Bay Delta, and should fire him for once again favoring utility over ratepayer interests, Consumer Watchdog said today.
“Pickel’s assertions that the Delta tunnel project is affordable for ratepayers is pure fantasy,” said Consumer Watchdog Advocate Liza Tucker.
Sacramento, CA -- Public interest groups are urging the California Senate Rules Committee to demand answers about oil and gas well safety breaches from Governor Brown’s top oil and gas aide and to not confirm him to the Public Utilities Commission without them.
Despite concerns raised by residents and Los Angeles County leaders, Southern California Gas Co. said Monday it is restarting natural gas injections at Aliso Canyon wells and that the company has completed all safety measures to do so.
Throughout Monday the company issued mixed messages about when injections resumed. But a letter sent to Porter Ranch residents Monday made it clear, confirming that SoCalGas had “started the process to resume limited injection operations.”
Santa Monica, CA -- Sempra shareholders have profited wildly from the favorable decisions taken by Jerry Brown’s appointees since the Governor was elected, and his sister Kathleen Brown, a Sempra board member, has made more than $1 million in cash and stock since joining the board four years ago, Consumer Watchdog said today in a new report.
Santa Monica, CA---Consumer Watchdog today urged City Council President Herb Wesson to name a consumer advocate to the citizens’ committee that will nominate the next ratepayer advocate at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. DWP’s first ratepayer advocate, Fred Pickel, is a power industry insider and former consultant to Enron who has failed ratepayers by consistently putting DWP’s interests above consumers, said the group.
A consumer advocate says it’s time to shed some light on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s screwy spending priorities. DWP customers have borne the brunt of under investment in infrastructure, what with two recent power outages in the middle of a heat wave. Consumer Watchdog President Jaime Court says there’s self-dealing by the powers that be.
”I don’t think they’re criminal. I do think there are a lot of very, very smelly situations that involve the taking of rate payer and tax payer money and the infrastructure of the city falling apart.”
The New York Times didn’t mention that “America's de facto leader on climate change” received $9.8 million from oil, gas and utilities, often within days of winning big favors, since he ran for Governor, according to a report released by the the Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog last August: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/dirtyhands
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Consumer advocates and community activists say the state Department of Toxic Substances Control's long-awaited plan to remove lead from more than 2,000 properties around the former Exide battery recycling plant doesn't do enough to protect residents from lead exposure.
While in Beijing, Gov. Jerry Brown publicly promoted the fight against climate change. Just as important was the quiet attendance of AES, a major builder of fossil-fuel power plants in California.
Was the governor making plans to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, or was he making deals to build more climate-warming natural gas plants? Unfortunately, California’s transparency laws don’t ensure the disclosure of such backroom conversations.
Critics question if union's concession on nonprofits warrants City Hall's granting of $56 million in raises.
For nearly two decades, ratepayers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have pumped nearly $4 million a year into a pair of nonprofits created to improve employee training and safety at the city-owned utility.
The nonprofits paid top utility managers and union leaders six-figure salaries and provided plush expense accounts but never demonstrated they had much impact on either training or safety.
When President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, California elected officials were immediate leaders in the reaction, promising to forge ahead regardless of what Trump might do. They were building on an existing infrastructure of 175 subnational entities committed to fighting climate change, the Under2 Coalition, which California helped initiate.
Sacramento, CA — Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch oppose Assembly Bill 398, brokered by Governor Jerry Brown to extend California’s cap-and-trade program past 2020, as a massive giveaway of billions of dollars to the oil and gas industry that fails to rein in one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in California. The organizations are calling on state legislators to defeat the bill, which could be called for a vote on Thursday.
Santa Monica, CA—As Governor Brown challenges the Trump administration today on climate change by issuing a sweeping invitation to a global “climate action” summit in San Francisco, Consumer Watchdog is challenging the Governor to hold the summit in Northern California’s Richmond or in Southern California cities like Wilmington or Torrance—home to emissions-spewing refineries.
Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog today called on the Public Utilities Commission to require disclosure of any communications about new, unnecessary natural gas-fired power plants in Southern California made during Governor Jerry Brown’s recent trip to Beijing to tout clean energy. The trip, during which energy company executives had intimate access to the governor and energy regulators, shows the need for greater transparency around power plant decision-making.
Californians are paying billions of dollars too much for electric plants we don’t need. That’s the finding of a major Los Angeles Times investigation and a new Consumer Watchdog report explains why.
Governor Brown has embraced the building of fossil fuel generated electricity, along with the reopening of Aliso Canyon’s gas reserve, even while Californians have a glut of electric capacity.
The populist president just revived what will be a bad economic deal for Midwest gas prices and American jobs, the Keystone XL pipeline.
My nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog studied the issue in 2013 and found that the Keystone XL extension was a way to move Canadian crude to Asia through the gulf coast, which would re-route cheap crude that now feeds Midwest refineries. The likely result: higher Midwest gasoline prices.
Would longtime Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson make the most inappropriate Secretary of State in American history?
Make no mistake. T-Rex would have one key mission: rescue the oil industry from near extinction following rising global awareness of climate change.
In 2012, Vladimir Putin was quoted saying to Tillerson, “Mr. Tillerson, I am very happy to see you... This is already our second meeting in a short span of time and there is a good explanation for this: increasingly close relations are being forged between your company and Russian market players.” (Bloomberg News)