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Interview With Leland Yee: PG&E ‘committed’ to finding San Bruno gas line alternative

| October 22, 2010
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UPDATE 5 11:35 a.m.: Mina Kim spoke to Leland Yee directly. Here’s that interview and transcript:

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Transcript:

Leland Yee: Chris Johns, who’s the president of PG&E did in fact make that commitment to the (San Bruno) mayor….The only hedge I would be making is that he made that commitment, the question now…is the alternative. The devil’s in the details and that’s where we’re sort of at at this particular time.

Mina Kim: Did he reiterate commitment to you at this meeting?

Yee: He was not there, (but) his staff reiterated that. They know it’s a tall order It’s not going to be easy; but they are committed to finding an alternative, and that’s their marching orders at this time.

A 1 p.m. press conference in San Bruno has been scheduled. From Yee’s office:

What: Senator Leland Yee and San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane will discuss the commitment made by PG&E to move the gas pipeline that ruptured on September 9.

When:

Today, October 22, 2010, at 1:00 P.M.

Where:

San Bruno City Hall

UPDATE 4 10:55 a.m. The Bay Citizen has a statement from PG&E spokeswoman Katie Romans, which is much less definitive.

“We realize nobody wants that pipeline to be rebuilt in the neighborhood,” Romans said.

“We will work with federal, state and city leaders to evaluate all available options. It will not be a decision that PG&E makes on its own,” she said.

UPDATE 3 10:33 a.m. Mina Kim is now off the phone with Yee’s office. A spokesperson said that PG&E has indeed agreed to move the pipeline, but that the company can’t definitively announce it because it still has to go through the regulatory process to get approval.

UPDATE 2 10:30 a.m.: KQED reporter Mina Kim is talking to Yee’s office right now…

UPDATE 1 10:20 a.m.: KQED anchor Joshua Johnson spoke with PG&E and the company has yet to confirm that it has committed to moving the gas pipeline blamed for the San Bruno fire. His report:

We’re getting conflicting reports this morning on the future of the gas pipeline blamed for the San Bruno gas fire.

Earlier today State Senator Leland Yee told the press that P-G-and-E has agreed to move the line out of the neighborhood.

In a statement Yee’s office wrote that company president Chris Johns has committed to it.

But that has yet to be confirmed by P-G-and-E directly.

A company spokesperson says the utility is committed to working with government leaders to evaluate all the options.

Some residents of the San Bruno neighborhood have said they would not move back in until, and unless, the pipeline is moved away.

Here’s the press release that Yee’s office sent out Friday morning, which is also posted on his web site.

SAN BRUNO – PG&E President Chris Johns has committed to moving the gas pipeline that ruptured on September 9 out of the San Bruno neighborhood, according Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane. Yee and Ruane, as well as several of the families impacted by the explosion, had requested that PG&E find a more suitable location.

“These families deserve an opportunity to rebuild without the possibility of this ever happening again,” said Yee. “The only way these families can recover is to move the pipeline out of their neighborhood. I look forward to working with Mayor Ruane – who has done an extraordinary job in leading his city during this difficult time – to find a more appropriate location.”

“We simply can not rebuild the neighborhood as long as that pipeline exists in its current location,” said Ruane. “Our families will not live there under those conditions and our city will never be able to heal.”

Johns made the commitment to relocate the pipeline yesterday while meeting with Ruane. Today, Yee and Ruane will meet with PG&E officials to begin the process of finding alternative locations for the pipeline.

“There are several competing interests in finding the appropriate location, but surely there must be a better place than through the middle of a residential neighborhood,” said Yee. “I am confident we can come together as a community and get this done right.”

Earlier this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Los Angeles) signed into law a bill first introduced by Yee to provide disaster relief for the affected families of the San Bruno fires and to assist the County of San Mateo, City of San Bruno, and local schools.

Specifically, the bill allows a continuation of the $7,000 property tax exemption for homeowners who would have qualified for the exemption if their home had not been damaged or destroyed. In addition, the bill allows taxpayers (personal and business) to deduct income loss as result of the incident. Finally, the bill includes assistance to the County of San Mateo, City of San Bruno, and local schools by providing a one-year reimbursement from the State for any tax losses related to the lower property assessments of damaged or destroyed homes.

Following an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and a responsible party determined, the responsible entity would then have to pay back the state for the cost of the tax relief provided for in the legislation.

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