Train derailment makes odd bedfellows of JD Vance, Sherrod Brown
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) stood in front of his new Republican colleagues Tuesday and tried to convince them to support a bill backed by Senate Democrats that would impose a host of new regulations on a powerful rail industry.washingtonpost.com
Ohio train derailment: EPA orders Norfolk Southern to clean contaminated soil, water
EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday ordered Norfolk Southern Railway to pay the costs of cleaning soil and water resources contaminated by a train derailment earlier this month in East Palestine. “In no way, shape or form will Norfolk Southern get off the hook for the mess that they created.”Testing of water and soil has been ongoing since after a train derailed on the night of Feb. 3 in East Palestine. The Norfolk Southern train was carrying a variety of items, including frozen vegetables, malt liquor and paraffin wax, according to officials. This is just a tough, tough situation that has occurred.”On Tuesday, Shapiro accused Norfolk Southern of failing to work with authorities coordinating the response in the early hours after the derailment. “One of the things that he and I have talked a lot about is really the need we have for Congress to take a hard look at rail safety,” DeWine said.wftv.com
More than a dozen states to open vaccines to all adults
Every adult in Louisiana over the age of 16 is now eligible to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as the state's expanded eligibility went into effect Monday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)More than a dozen states will open vaccine eligibility to all adults this week in a major expansion of COVID-19 shots for tens of millions of Americans amid a worrisome increase in virus cases and concerns about balancing supply and demand for the vaccines. Demand "has definitely decreased over the past couple of weeks,” said Imelda Garcia, head of the state’s expert vaccine allocation panel. California officials said the state can administer 3 million shots a week now, and Democratic Gov. Lena Lawson, a 37-year-old technology consultant in Phoenix, tried to book a vaccine appointment since the new eligibility rules started.
GOP's Rep. Jim Jordan won't seek Portman's US Senate seat
Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaks to members of the media outside a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Portman said Monday, Jan. 25 that he won't seek reelection and plans to end a career in federal government spanning more than three decades. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)CINCINNATI – Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a fiery Donald Trump supporter, won't run to succeed Ohio Sen. The former star college wrestler's style doesn't reflect that of Portman, a career establishment Republican with a reputation for bipartisanship. AdTrump rewarded Jordan, 56, for his steady support by giving him the Presidential Medal of Freedom before leaving office this month.
Biden's win hides a dire warning for Democrats in rural U.S.
DES MOINES, Iowa – Democrats once dominated Koochiching County in the blue-collar Iron Range of northern Minnesota. But in this month's presidential election, President Donald Trump won it with 60% of the vote. Though Democrats’ rural woes aren’t new, they now heap pressure on Biden to begin reversing the trend. In clinging to their majority, House Democrats lost rural seats, notably the one held for 30 years by Rep. Collin Peterson in western Minnesota. For now, Democrats' future in rural America rests largely on how Biden is viewed there, Heitkamp said.
Tropical Storm Eta causes dangerous flooding in Florida: "Far worse than we could've ever imagined"
Torrential rain from Tropical Storm Eta caused dangerous flooding across Florida's most densely populated urban areas on Monday after it made landfall in the Florida Keys. The system's wide reach and heavy rains posed a serious threat across South Florida, an area already drenched from more than 14 inches of rain last month. "In some areas, the water isn't pumping out as fast as it's coming in," warned Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz. Firefighters pulled a person from a car that had driven into a canal Sunday night in Lauderhill, Florida, north of Miami. Eta also wasn't done yet with Cuba, just 90 miles south of Florida, where the storm continued to swell rivers and flood coastal zones on Monday.cbsnews.com
Families of California wildfire victims slam PG&E for crimes
The speakers tearfully told of holiday and birthday celebrations that will never be celebrated after their loved ones perished in the November 2018 fire that nearly wiped out Paradise, California. You had the capacity to know what you were doing would kill people, said Philip Binstock, referring to PG&E executives. His 88-year-old father, Julian Binstock, was found with his dog in the shower of his Paradise, California home. Binstock noted that PG&E was previously found to have falsified safety and maintenance records for its natural gas lines to make more money before the 2018 wildfire. Wednesday was the second day of an extraordinary court proceeding that will culminate in PG&E being sentenced for 85 felony counts.
PG&E to plead guilty to deaths from California wildfire
Pacific Gas & Electric officials are to be expected to appear in court Tuesday, June 16, 2020, to plead guilty for the deadly wildfire that nearly wiped out the Northern California town of Paradise in 2018. The fire killed 85 people, but prosecutors weren't certain they could prove PG&E was responsible for one of the deaths. The proceedings will continue Wednesday when surviving family members of those who died in the 2018 wildfire will be allowed to make statements before Deems. As part of a deal with California power regulators, PG&E will replace 11 of its 14 board members. Despite PG&E's pledge to turn over a new leaf, the utility's critics fear more danger looms during an upcoming wildfire season after an unusually dry winter in Northern California.
Regulators approve PG&E bankruptcy plan despite safety fears
Meanwhile, the Public Utilities Commission will vote on the bankruptcy plan. U.S. District Judge William Alsup blasted PG&E for flim flamming him about its newfound commitment to safety in previous hearings. He also raised worries that state power regulators havent done enough to prevent a recalcitrant criminal from causing more death and destruction as the risk of wildfires rises with the summer temperatures. If there ever was a corporation that deserved to go to prison, it is PG&E, Alsup said. But the reforms included in PG&E's plan still might not be enough, acknowledged Clifford Rechtschaffen, one of the the five PUC board members.
PG&E says it has reached $13.5 billion wildfire settlement
PG&E Co., California's biggest utility owner, faces $30 billion in potential wildfire liabilities, and its bankruptcy plan has reverberated across the power industry. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesPG&E says it has reached a $13.5 billion settlement that will resolve all major claims related to devastating wildfires blamed on its outdated equipment and negligence. PG&E says it is a key step in leading it out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. PG&E said the proposed settlement is the third it has reached as it works through its Chapter 11 case. The utility previously reached a $1 billion settlement with cities, counties and other public utilities and an $11 billion agreement with insurance companies and other entities that have paid claims relating to the 2017 and 2018 fires.cnbc.com
PG&E says it has reached $13.5 billion wildfire settlement
Pacific Gas and Electric announced Friday it has reached a tentative $13.5 billion settlement resolving all major claims related to the deadly, devastating Northern California wildfires of 2017-2018 that were blamed on its outdated equipment and negligence. The utility says the deal, which still requires court approval, represents a key step in leading it out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. "From the beginning of the Chapter 11 process, getting wildfire victims fairly compensated, especially the individuals, has been our primary goal," Bill Johnson, PG&E Corporation 's CEO and president, said in a statement Friday. The settlement is still subject to a number of conditions involving PG&E's Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plans, which must be completed by June 30, 2020. PG&E said the proposed settlement is the third it has reached as it works through its Chapter 11 case.chicagotribune.com
PG&E boss says it wasnt fully ready for California outages
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson blamed his company's poor response to the blackouts affecting millions of people partly on a sense of complacency after a much smaller outage went well earlier this year. In 2012, he said less than 15% of its power lines traversed areas at high risk for wildfires. He also said the company recently inspected its vast network of power lines and other equipment for repairs and replacement. Mo&E has not buried its power lines in fire-prone areas to "save money for shareholders." Preemptive power shutoffs are not new to California, but the scope of those by PG&E this year have been unprecedented.chicagotribune.com
PG&E asks frustrated customers not to target its employees
Some PG&E employees have received death threats in response to the shutoffs. Some PG&E employees have received death threats in response to the shutoffs, PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said Wednesday. The utility giant cut power to thousands of customers on multiple dates in October as California faced strong winds that PG&E said posed wildfire threats. He pointed to the damage in defending the outages, a practice known as Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). California Governor Gavin Newsom urged the public to remember that PG&E employees are also being affected by the shutoffs.
PG&E will give refunds to residential customers affected by shutoff
SAN FRANCISCO - After a request from the state's leader, California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on Tuesday said it will credit customers for a power shutoff earlier this month. "It's important to remember that the sole purpose of these power shutoffs is to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the communities that we serve." The October 9 power shutoff impacted about 738,000 customers, Johnson said. PG&E will give a one-time credit of $100 to residential customers and $250 to business customers on their bills, the company said in a news release. "PG&E's mismanagement of the power shutoffs experienced last week was unacceptable."
Transmission line broke near where California wildfire ignited
PG&E became aware of an outage at 9:20 p.m., and state fire officials said a wildfire started in the area around seven minutes later. GEYSERVILLE, Calif. - California's largest utility said minutes before the Kincade Fire started, it discovered one of its high-voltage transmission lines had an outage near where the blaze later ignited. Thousands of people evacuatedThe raging wildfire prompted massive evacuations, and had destroyed 49 structures by Thursday -- commercial and residential, fire officials said. Utility company Southern California Edison said an additional 386,000 customers are under consideration for more shutoffs. The Agua Dulce area, where the Tick Fire is burning, was part of the ongoing intentional power outages, said Lois Bruce of Southern California Edison.
Why Californians are furious at utility company PG&E
Regardless of how people are choosing to vent their anger, for many Californians, the latest round of power outages is just one more misstep from PG&E. The power company came under pressure from billions of dollars in claims tied to deadly wildfires, and filed for bankruptcy in January. But PG&E's history of massive blackouts goes back decades -- many of them related to the California electricity crisis of the early-2000s. In June 2000, about 97,000 PG&E customers in the Bay Area experienced rolling blackouts due to a shortage in electricity supply. It will soon charge customers moreOn top of the power outages PG&E customers are experiencing, they can soon expect to see their bills go up.
Wind-whipped fires rage across California as lights go out
In Southern California, two fires rolled along the parched foothills north of Los Angeles, forcing at least 40,000 people to flee neighborhoods where thousands of homes have sprung up in recent decades. Winds gusting to about 40 mph (65 kph) pushed the flames, and enormous plumes of smoke were visible for miles. Hot and dry Santa Ana winds led Southern California Edison to cut power to more than 31,000 customers. While the cause of fire wasn't yet determined PG&E reported a problem with a transmission tower near the spot where the fire ignited. A series of deadly blazes tore through the same area in Northern California wine country two years ago, killing 44 people.chicagotribune.com
Heat records toppled as fires burn in California
Tim Boyle/Getty Images(CNN) - Dry conditions, windy weather and high temperatures will hit Southern California, bringing extreme fire conditions that could lead to another electricity shutoff in some areas. Some areas in Southern California were setting records Tuesday. Power shutoff could affect 17 countiesThe potential power shutoff could affect 17 counties in the Sierra Foothills, North Bay, and San Mateo and Kern counties. The utility company began notifying customers by texts, emails and automated phone calls Monday that they could have their power shut off. There were eight fires burning in the state, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
PG&E shutoffs could continue 10 years
(CNN) - Power outages to prevent fires in Northern California may continue for a decade, the state's biggest utility said Friday. Utility PG&E chief executive Bill Johnson made the announcement during a California Public Utilities Commission meeting Friday. Earlier this month, PG&E shut off power to almost 800,000 customers in Northern California to lower the risk of wildfires started by the company's equipment. The power company has said that it's "probable" that its equipment started last year's Camp Fire when a powerline touched nearby trees. As the environment changes, "dealing with wildfires is the new abnormal within California," PG&E's Sumeet Singh told reporters at the time.
California utility sees decade of power cuts to avoid wildfires
(Reuters) - Northern Californians can expect widespread power cuts aimed at preventing wildfires for a decade while Pacific Gas & Electric upgrades wires systems, cuts back trees and takes other safety measures, the utilitys chief executive said on Friday. FILE PHOTO: Firefighters battle a wind-driven wildfire called the Saddle Ridge fire in the early morning hours Friday in Porter Ranch, California, U.S., October 11, 2019. But the day when preemptive power outages would no longer be necessary is still years away, he said. This is not hard, PUC President Marybel Batjer said during the meeting to the panel of PG&E executives assembled. The utility filed for bankruptcy in January 2019, citing potential civil liabilities in excess of $30 billion from major wildfires linked to its transmission wires and other equipment.feeds.reuters.com
Deadly Los Angeles wildfire began near base of electrical tower, company and fire officials say
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A deadly wind-driven wildfire that raged across the northern edge of Los Angeles last week started near the base of high-voltage transmission tower owned by electric utility Southern California Edison, company and fire officials said on Monday. Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Captain Erik Scott said Monday that the cause of the fire was uncertain. But he said investigators had traced the fires origin to a slope beneath the high-voltage tower near Saddle Ridge Road. But the Edison spokeswoman, Susan Cox, confirmed that the tower in question belonged to the utility. ORIGIN PINPOINTED, CAUSE STILL UNKNOWNThe Saddleridge fire was the latest in a string of severe California wildfires for which electrical utility equipment has been scrutinized as a possible flashpoint.feeds.reuters.com
California governor demands PG&E accountability for mismanaging power shutoffs
Restaurant owner Emily Schiffman checks her phone behind a candle-lit bar at Reel and Brand in Sonoma, California, on October 9, 2019, during a planned power outage by the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) utility company. California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that utility Pacific Gas and Electric should be held accountable for mismanaging last week's widespread power shutoffs and urged the company to provide credits or rebates to affected customers. Separately, the California Public Utility Commission ordered corrective steps by PG&E, the state's largest investor-ownedutility, while summoning eight of its top executives to an emergency meeting on Friday. On Thursday, the governor said the power outage followed years of mismanagement by the utility and branded its handling as "unacceptable." "Loss of power is not a mere inconvenience it endangers lives and property, especially those individuals who are relianton power for medical reasons."cnbc.com
California regulator criticizes utility over power outages
She ordered the utility to perform an audit of its performance during the outages that began Wednesday, saying the utility clearly did not adopt many of the recommendations state officials have made since utilities was granted the authority to begin pre-emptive power shutoffs last year. The review is due by Thursday, and she ordered several PG&E executives to appear at an emergency PUC hearing Friday.chicagotribune.com
California governor says broad power shutdown to prevent fires 'unacceptable'
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Gavin Newsom called a widespread electricity shutdown triggered by a power company to prevent wildfires unacceptable, as gale-force winds and dry weather posed a critical fire threat to the north of the state. Pacific Gas and Electric Co (PG&E) has imposed unprecedented shut-offs that left more than 730,000 homes and workplaces in northern California without power on the second day of planned outages. But as of late Thursday, power was restored to more than half of those who had lost it, PG&E officials said in a release. Northern California is not a Third World country, the San Jose Mercury Statesman said in an editorial. Much of northern California, from San Francisco to the Oregon border, remains under a state red flag fire alert, although no major blazes have been reported.feeds.reuters.com
PG&E CEO apologizes: 'The buck stops with me'
A sign posted on the door of Saltaj Indian Cafe announces closure due to power outages on Oct. 10, 2019, in Sausalito, California. "I do apologize for the hardship but I think we made the right call on safety," said Johnson, who took over as CEO in May after heading the Tennessee Valley Authority. The night before, someone fired a bullet into a PG&E vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol. We have thousands of men and women, literally thousands, out there right now working tirelessly to restore power, including many who actually lost power themselves," Johnson said. Gavin Newsom has blasted the utility over the outages, blaming the action on years of neglect and putting profits ahead of customers.
California governor calls widespread electricity shutdown to prevent fires 'unacceptable'
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Gavin Newsom called a widespread electricity shutdown triggered by a power company to prevent wildfires unacceptable, saying on Thursday it resulted from years of mismanagement by the utility. Were seeing a scale and scope of something that no state in the 21st century should experience, Newsom said. FILE PHOTO: Downtown Los Angeles is seen behind an electricity pylon through the morning marine layer in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 20, 2019. Northern California is not a Third World country, the San Jose Mercury Statesman said in an editorial. Much of northern California, from San Francisco to the Oregon border, remains under a state red flag fire alert, although no major blazes have been reported.feeds.reuters.com
PG&E settles with insurance companies for $11B in Calif. wildfires
Copyright 2019 CNN(CNN) - Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced it has reached an $11 billion settlement with insurance companies for claims stemming from the devastating 2017 wildfires in northern California and the 2018 Camp Fire. A statement from the company Friday said the settlement covers 85% of the claims. "Today's settlement is another step in doing what's right for the communities, businesses, and individuals affected by the devastating wildfires," said Bill Johnson, CEO and president of PG&E Corporation. The hardest-hit town of Paradise, which was left in charred ruins, will get $270 million to resolve wildfire claims. In May, Cal Fire released a final determination that PG&E power lines did cause the Camp Fire.