Watchdogs Petition PUC For Open Investigation On Porter Ranch Leak; Decry Secrecy & Question Lack of Transparency

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Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog and the law offices of Aquirre & Severson petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission for an open investigation into the Porter Ranch leak, including the immediate release of key documents and a PUC meeting in Los Angeles within 10 days to discuss the petition.

“The CPUC has failed to comply with California laws and the CPUC’s own regulations, which require the CPUC to exercise its authority through formal procedures,” the petition states.  “These statutory safeguards ensure that the public – particularly the residents who face an imminent threat to their health and safety – are fully apprised of the situation and are able to exercise their due process rights to protect their families and their property.  Instead, the CPUC has made clear it intends to proceed privately, outside the public’s view.”

Read the petition at

The petition states, “The CPUC has initiated only an informal staff-run investigation of this natural gas leak. An ‘independent,’ third-party analysis of the cause of the leak has also been undertaken at the direction of CPUC staff, but its reports are to be provided to the CPUC and not released to the public until after the investigation is deemed complete by the CPUC at an arbitrary date.  The CPUC has yet to initiate a formal investigation into the crisis at Porter Ranch.”

“The Public Utilities Commission’s history of making key decisions through private and ex-parte communications with utilities companies makes a public investigation critical to the safety of the people of Porter Ranch,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.

“The Sempra Aliso Canyon gas leak, the 2012 Edison San Onofre radiation leak, the 2010 PG&E San Bruno gas line explosion, and the 2007 Sempra equipment caused fires in San Diego were the product of a broken safety system,” said attorney Mike Aguirre.

“These repetitive disasters show the Wall Street- utilities, the California Public Utilities Commission, the legislature and the Governor are refusing to make the reforms needed to protect the public.”

The petition seeks:

•          “An Order Instituting an Investigation (OII) relating to the causes of, persons responsible for, the ACSF gas leak; the actions required to safely terminate the threat to the public health and safety; and measures to assure full compensation of members and businesses in the community for losses they have incurred as a result of the ACSF gas leak.

•          An emergency public meeting of the CPUC Commissioners in Los Angeles within 10 days of this Petition, in order to consider whether to issue the OII and to report on ACSF to Los Angeles officials and the public;

•          Setting a date for a Prehearing Conference in order to place the OII on a fast track for resolution, without unnecessary “phasing”; and

•          The immediate release of all documents and communications to date between SCG (including its executives, staff and vendors), and the CPUC (including Commissioners, and staff) regarding the ACSF gas leak. “

“Despite the CPUC’s representations to the public that safety at the CPUC was a high priority, the initial response to the report of the Aliso gas leak suggests the CPUC staff’s actions did not comport with the agency’s professed concerns for safety,” the petition states.

“Sempra, PG&E, and Southern California Edison spend millions to fund political campaigns and provide free travel and gifts to those who do their bidding at the CPUC, legislature and Governor’s office,” said attorney Maria Severson.

“In each of these multi-billion dollar catastrophes, the Wall Street utilities and state officials have followed a familiar pattern:

“First, the utility executives and CPUC commissioners plot how to conceal evidence and obstruct the media’s effort to find out who was responsible. 

“Second, the CPUC commissioners tell Wall Street that utility customers, not the shareholders, will pay the damages.

“Third: State officials issue misleading reports while claiming an authentic investigation will take too long and cost too much. 

“Last year Governor Brown and the legislature had a chance to fix the broken safety system but failed to act.  The legislature did not allow a single knowledgeable utility advocate to come before it with the facts. The Governor vetoed even the weak bills the legislature did pass.  The people of Porter Ranch and Aliso Canyon could have benefited from those reforms the Governor vetoed and the legislature failed to enact.”

Aguirre & Severson have been challenging corruption at the PUC and the legitimacy of the ratepayer settlement over the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.  Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit public interest group that takes on corruption in government and industry.

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Jamie Court
Jamie Court
Consumer Watchdog's President and Chairman of the Board is an award-winning and nationally recognized consumer advocate. The author of three books, he has led dozens of campaigns to reform insurance companies, financial institutions, energy companies, political accountability and health care companies.

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