Assemblymember Gray Seeks Audit of State Regulator’s Failure to Prevent Utility Wildfires

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Assemblymember Gray Seeks Audit of State Regulator’s Failure to Prevent Utility Wildfires

 

January 15, 2020Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) has submitted a request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee seeking a state audit of the California Public Utilities Commission. As the state’s primary entity tasked with the regulation of public utilities, Gray’s audit letter seeks information about the commission’s role in PG&E’s inadequate and dangerous management of its power lines which sparked some of the most destructive wildfires in California history.

“A lot of the conversation around utilities and wildfires has focused on shareholders and executives at PG&E placing their own profits over the public’s safety,” said Gray. “That criticism is well deserved. Shareholders are just now realizing it would have cost a lot less to make responsible safety improvements over time rather than go through bankruptcy with multi-billion dollar settlements.
 
“However, government incompetence is also part of the story. The CPUC regulates public utilities and knew about the decaying and outdated condition of PG&E’s infrastructure, yet they failed to act. Instead, the commission often denied what little safety improvements were proposed by the utility.
 
“Many have pointed to climate change to explain the dangerous conditions which allowed recent wildfires to grow so quickly and burn so intensely. Ironically, the CPUC has been at the center of the state’s fight against climate change since the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Instead of raising the alarm that climate change will make dangerous wildfire conditions more common, the commission has pushed its Safety and Enforcement Division to the bottom of the priority list.
 
“I am asking the State Auditor to provide an independent and nonpartisan analysis of what went wrong at the CPUC. Why was public safety not a priority for the commission, and why were grid improvements like burying power lines in fire prone areas not approved? Despite playing a central role in helping California adapt to climate change in other areas, why was the CPUC asleep at the wheel on the risk of utility caused wildfires?
 
"The state has promised not to allow these tragedies to happen again. In order to fulfill that promise, we need answers to these questions. If the CPUC is not capable of ensuring the public's safety, then it is time we figure out a new way to regulate public utilities so that homes, businesses, and families come first."
 
Gray’s audit request will be voted on by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee at a hearing scheduled for February 19th.

 

 

 

Adam Gray’s Momentum Builds as List of Local Support Expands

PRESS RELEASE
GRAY FOR ASSEMBLY 2020
Contact: Mike Lynch, mike@mikelynchconsulting.com
Office: (209) 526-2131
Cell: (209) 380-5841

Merced, CA – Assemblymember Adam Gray, a life-long resident of Merced, officially launched his 2020 re-election campaign to continue representing the people and communities of California’s 21 st Assembly District. Gray filed his re-election paperwork, after previously submitting more than 1,700 signatures of voters in the district in lieu of paying a filing fee.

“I fight for working families and for our community every day in Sacramento – to stop the water grab, for more doctors in the Valley, to repair local streets and roads, and for equitable funding
for our schools – and I am grateful for the confidence that voters have placed in me,” said Gray. “I will always put the Valley first and will always work to ensure that the Valley gets it fair share.”

Underscoring his strong track record representing the community, Gray’s list of early endorsements expanded to include many local leaders among them:

  • Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse
  • Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke
  • Merced County District Attorney Kimberly Helms Lewis
  • Stanislaus County Superintendent of Public Instruction Scott Kuykendall
  • Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa
  • Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen
  • Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow
  • Merced County Supervisor Lee Lor
  • Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel
  • Merced County Supervisor Lloyd Parreira
  • Merced County Supervisor Scott Silveira
  • Mayor of Merced Mike Murphy
  • Mayor of Los Banos Mike Villalta
  • Mayor of Patterson Deborah Novelli
  • Mayor of Atwater Paul Creighton
  • Mayor of Gustine Patrick Nagy
  • Mayor of Newman Bob Martina
  • Modesto City Councilmember Amy Eliot Neuman
  • Modesto City Councilmember Jenny Kenoyer
  • Merced City Councilmember Jill McLeod
  • Ceres Unified School District Trustee Faye Lane

Expressing gratitude for the support, Gray stated, “Endorsements from local elected officials, leaders, and community members are the most meaningful because they illustrate the progress that we can make to move our area forward when we work together.”

Assemblymember Gray Tours Flood Operations Center

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Assemblymember Gray Tours Flood Operations Center

April 12, 2019 – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray, Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, met with meteorologists and flood management officials with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the National Weather Service (NWS) at the DWR Flood Operations Center to receive an update on flood preparedness, interagency cooperation, and the impact of climate change on water storage.

Assemblymember Adam Gray meeting with officials at the DWR Flood Operations Center.

The Department of Water Resources recently announced that the Sierra snowpack is 162 percent of average and statewide snow water equivalent has tripled since the beginning of February.  Snow water equivalent is one of the factors used by water managers to estimate spring runoff.

California typically receives close to 200 million acre-feet of water per year from rain and snow and statewide, and the Sierra snowpack provides 30 percent of California’s water needs. “Fortunately, this has been a rebound year for California’s water supply,” said Gray. “But the abundance of water also carries a certain amount of risk. Today was an opportunity to make sure our flood management officials at the state and federal level are working together and prepared to respond in case of an emergency.”

The briefing at the DWR Flood Ops Center (FOC) also included hydrologists and meteorologists who manage the California/Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC) and NWS’s Sacramento Regional Office.

“While the Sierras were inundated with a record number of atmospheric river events this year, we need to prepare for warmer temperatures in the short-term and severe droughts in the long-term,” continued Gray. “These variable and extreme weather patterns are some of the reasons why I introduced AB 638, which requires DWR to determine statewide water storage capacity and identify how our storage will be threatened by climate change. For too long the California Water Plan has provided more question than answers. This bill requires DWR to provide specific strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our water supply.”

More information about AB 638 can be found here.

Newsom and Brown wade into California water wars to delay plan to help fish

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Newsom and Brown wade into California water wars to delay plan to help fish

November 7, 2018 - - Gov. Jerry Brown and incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom have waded in one of California’s fiercest water wars, prompting state regulators to delay a key vote on a proposal meant to help struggling salmon and steelhead trout.

In a letter Tuesday to the California State Water Resources Board, Brown and Newsom urged it to postpone consideration of proposed regulations to give the various factions involved time to reach an agreement during confidential settlement talks.

The board was scheduled Wednesday to vote on a plan that would leave up to 40 percent of the water in lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries in their channels to benefit struggling fish. The move would mean more water will flow to the Pacific Ocean rather than be captured by dams or shunted into canals to grow crops and supply cities such as Modesto and San Francisco.

Currently, as much as 80 percent of the water in the lower San Joaquin watershed is taken from the rivers for human use.

Cities including Modesto and San Francisco and farming groups fear the plan would cut into their water supply. The Trump administration is opposed to the state’s plan, which San Joaquin Valley farmers call a “water grab.”

Environmentalists say more flows are needed in the river to protect fish.

“A short extension will allow these negotiations to progress and could result in a faster, less contentious and more durable outcome,” Brown and Newsom wrote. “Voluntary agreements are preferable to a lengthy administrative process and the inevitable ensuing lawsuits.”

The five-person board agreed 3-0 to delay the vote when they met Wednesday, with two board members, Tam Doduc and Steven Moore, abstaining. A new vote is scheduled for Dec 12.

Read Article Here

Brown, Newsom send State Water Board letter requesting to delay Wednesday’s vote

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Brown, Newsom send State Water Board letter requesting to delay Wednesday’s vote

November 06, 2018 - - Those who depend on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers for agriculture and drinking water may have received a reprieve Tuesday night.
 
The State Water Resources Control Board was set to adopt a proposal to double the amount of water allowed to flow unimpeded down the rivers and out to the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta on Wednesday. Instead, the board received a written request from Gov. Jerry Brown's office and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom to postpone the vote until Dec. 12.
 
Assuming they grant that request, that 35-day delay will give the five irrigation districts that hold century-old rights to use the water for growing food additional time to work out a settlement to improve conditions for salmon without harming farmers. Modesto and cities like Manteca in southern San Joaquin County that receive treated water for customers from the Tuolumne and Stanislaus would face dry-year water supply cuts under the state plan.
 
"We are grateful that the governor has heard our community’s cry for help," said Michael Frantz, a Turlock Irrigation Board director who is among those deeply involved in trying to find a voluntary settlement agreement. "In the 35-day time period between now and then, the governor has committed to personally getting involved in the settlement negotiations process."
 
In a letter to water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus, Gov. Brown and Newsom wrote that a short extension will allow the negotiations to progress and "could result in a faster, less contentious and more durable outcome. Voluntary agreements are preferable to a lengthy administrative process and the inevitable ensuing lawsuits."
 
Under the plan that was to be considered, farmers in the region would lose on average 25 percent of their irrigation water each year. The local districts, including Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, said it would have severe economic effects, requiring the fallowing of 100,000 acres.
 
If no settlement is reached, the next step will be for the board to implement its plan — which it has been developing since 2009. That would result in immediate lawsuits by the districts.

 
Others were cautiously optimistic that at least some movement has been shown.
 
"I'm putting my faith in our representatives who have been involved in the process," said a board member of another district who preferred not to be quoted by name. "Do I believe the 35 days is going to yield fruit? It hasn't in two years, so I'm skeptical. But I'm willing to try it if the governor is reaching out himself."

Read more here: https://www.modbee.com/news/article221264045.html#storylink=cpy

Short Video Highlights of the Rally at the Capitol in Sacramento

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Short Video Highlights of the Rally at the Capitol in Sacramento

https://www.facebook.com/StopTheRegulatoryDrought/videos/295279397951574/

Protesting the Water Board’s Plan to Steal up to 60% of Our Valley’s Water. What Severe Negative Impacts will that have? WATCH LOCAL LEADERS BOTH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS COME TOGETHER FIGHTING FOR OUR VALLEY. Like This Page and Join Our Fight. #FightTheWaterGrab #JoinTheWaterGrabFight