Activists Gather At PG&E Building in San Francisco to Demand the Utility be Held Responsible for Recent Wildfires - NBC Bay Area
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Activists Gather At PG&E Building in San Francisco to Demand the Utility be Held Responsible for Recent Wildfires

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Critics Demand PG&E be Held Responsible for Wildfires

    Bay Area activists and environmental groups gathered Tuesday in San Francisco to demand that PG&E be held responsible for its role in the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County last month. And lawyers suing the utility are skeptical of the company's promise of increased safety measures. Anoushah Rasta reports. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018)

    Bay Area activists and environmental groups gathered Tuesday in San Francisco to demand that PG&E be held responsible for its role in the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County last month.

    People from groups such as the Local Clean Energy Alliance and the Democratic Socialists of America marched from Embarcadero Plaza to PG&E headquarters. As they marched down Market Street, protesters chanted, carrying signs and held a red banner that read "No PG&E Bailout."

    Several lawyers are suing PG&E on behalf of Camp Fire victims. Mike Kelly is one of them. In Chico on Tuesday, he told NBC Bay Area PG&E hasn’t been following the maintenance rules that have existed for years.

    "It’s just a series of excuses," said Kelly of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. "Really what they should be saying is 'Look. We feel terrible. More than 80 people have died, thousands of people have lost their homes. We’re going to make this right.'"

    The utility has recently been under scrutiny for possible negligence that may have led to the deadly fire that started in Butte County on Nov. 8 and other recent wildfires in the state.

    On Nov. 26, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered PG&E and federal prosecutors to provide a statement on the role, if any, that PG&E played in the wildfires by Dec. 31.

    Most recently, Alsup asked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra last week to advise him on the possible connection between any reckless operation by PG&E and the wildfires.

    "We the people of California are going to take over PG&E," Claire Haas, a local activist, said to the crowd.

    After the group made its way into the lobby, Haas began to read the names of the 86 people who died in the Camp Fire as well as victims of last year's fires in Napa and Sonoma counties. After each name was called, the crowd yelled out "Presente," meaning "present" in Spanish.

    Jessica Tovar of the Local Clean Energy Alliance said the protesters and others are tired of PG&E's actions and monopoly of the area's energy systems.

    "We don't want to bail out PG&E," Tovar said. "We want to take over our energy system and make it accountable to the people."

    At Tuesday's rally, the crowd of about 25 protesters stood in the lobby of the PG&E building for about two hours before San Francisco police escorted them off the premises.

    PG&E officials said they are working on assessing infrastructure, safely restoring power where possible, helping in the recovery and rebuilding process, and helping protect all of their customers from "the ever-increasing threat of wildfires."

    "The families impacted by the Camp Fire are our customers, our neighbors, and our friends, and our hearts go out to those who have lost so much," the utility said in a statement.

    PG&E announced Monday several measures it was taking to prevent massive wildfires such as the Camp Fire and the North Bay firestorm of 2017.

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