At an L.A. press conference this week, I watched as Jane Fowler faced the TV cameras and teared up over injections of natural gas resuming at Sempra’s giant Aliso Canyon gas reserve next door to where she lives.

The site of the biggest methane well blowout in U.S. history forced her to flee, and the now-capped well is still leaking methane that makes her sick.

Fowler spoke as the Public Utilities Commission opened a sham proceeding to study the feasibility of shuttering the reserve for good—after just green-lighting with oil regulators high pressure injections into Aliso with zero environmental or seismic review, and no report on what went wrong and who was responsible for the disaster.

As our new report describes, the Governor’s sister Kathleen Brown just made more than $1 million in cash and stock from Sempra. To read Power Play: How The Governor’s Sister Made A Million Dollars From Sempra While Brown Appointees Let Sempra Bilk Ratepayers For Billions see here.

Could there be any relationship between the Brown Administration’s favorable treatment of Sempra, despite endangering public health, and the presence of the Governor’s sister on its Sempra’s board? After all, Sempra just made her a millionaire for a part-time gig.

Could this be one reason why the PUC never opened a public investigation into who was responsible for the biggest methane well blowout in U.S. history?

Is this why the PUC also green-lighted billions in ratepayer dollars for Sempra’s San Diego Gas & Electric to buy fossil fuel power that Californians and San Diegans don’t need, but would feed Southern California Gas, another Sempra subsidiary?

All this has helped Sempra’s rate of growth near-triple to a market capitalization of $28 billion since Brown was elected, and its stock price soar 117 percent. But what about ratepayers that regulators allow Sempra to rip off? What about the health of thousands of L.A. County residents that they allow Sempra to threaten all over again with Aliso’s reopening?

Jerry Brown’s spokesman says, “The bark of California’s first dog, Colusa, has more substance” than our report. The facts remain that Kathleen Brown was paid $1 million for her work defending Sempra’s shareholder interests while Aliso Canyon reopened before public disclosure of what led to the massive blowout. Area residents have no faith that the Aliso reserve still making them sick won’t blow again.

Brown’s cavalier response to our report, sweeping its findings under the rug, is unacceptable. The Governor should take this matter seriously. We ask you to weigh in and call for full public disclosure of what and who caused the biggest methane blowout in U.S. history, and for the Brown Administration to come clean on whether Kathleen Brown played a role in its premature reopening.

Liza Tucker is a consumer advocate with the organization Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica. 

Load comments