PG&E Hides Key Documents on Gas Line Safety Impeding CA Senate Investigation

Majority Leader Florez claims PG&E lied about reasons why documents are heing withheld before Senate hearing.

SACRAMENTO — Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) wants the public to believe that its hands are tied, that the utility cannot release documents on the events leading up to the San Bruno gas line explosion because the federal government won’t allow it. But federal regulators have told Senator Dean Florez that they have placed no such restrictions on PG&E. The utility, they say, is free to hand over the documents to CA State Senators looking into gas line safety and last month’s tragedy.

“PG&E officials are not telling the truth when they say that the Federal Government is preventing them from releasing important documents,” Senate Majority Leader Florez said Friday.

“PG&E’s culture of concealment is so deeply rooted that it’s now putting false words into the mouths of federal investigators.

Last month, in a letter to PG&E chairman Peter A. Darbee, Sen. Florez (D-Shafter) requested hundreds of pages of internal PG&E documents as part of a State Senate probe into gas line safety and the San Bruno tragedy. Turning down Florez’s request for documents, PG&E officials cited restrictions imposed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the federal agency leading the investigation. PG&E officials claimed that the NTSB had ordered them to “maintain the confidentiality” of the Federal probe and not release the documents to the State Senate. But NTSB officials say they never asked or ordered PG&E to withhold the documents from State Senators.

In a Wednesday letter to Sen. Florez’ staff, NTSB general counsel Gary Halbert stated:

“There is nothing you have requested that would conflict with or cause harm to the ongoing NTSB investigation were it released by PG&E to the California State Senate.”

Florez says PG&E is impeding the State Investigation into gas pipeline safety and the San Bruno tragedy. The refusal to turn over key documents, Florez says, will only compromise the Senate’s ability to hold an effective public hearing on the matter next Tuesday.

“Without these documents, we cannot answer the most fundamental of questions: Did PG&E’s neglect and deferred maintenance, a pattern of nonfeasance over the years, cause or contribute to the San Bruno tragedy?” Florez asked PG&E Chairman Darbee in a follow-up letter today. “Now that your company’s rational for withholding these documents has been shown to be false, I trust the information will be placed on a fast track and arrive at my offices before the hearing,” Florez wrote


Florez noted that the San Bruno tragedy is more than a month old, and PG&E continues to keep the citizens of California in the dark.

“You owe answers not only to regulators in Washington but to the state government in Sacramento, as well,” Florez wrote Darbee.

For most of 2010 has provided significant coverage in two key areas of concern at PG&E. The State Investigation of PG&E pipeline safety and installation of controversial “SMART METER” technology will continue to be reported at FreeFlight as developments occur. You can subscribe to the feed at: I Will continue to cross-post here as warranted.