California lawmakers to hold hearing on San Bruno pipeline explosion

A couple walks by homes that were destroyed by fire following a deadly gas main explosion on September 13, 2010 in San Bruno, California.
A couple walks by homes that were destroyed by fire following a deadly gas main explosion on September 13, 2010 in San Bruno, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California lawmakers will convene a hearing today on the explosion of a natural gas pipeline just south of San Francisco last month. The San Bruno blast and fire killed eight people and destroyed dozens of homes.

Members of California’s state senate committees on Energy, Utilities & Communications and Public Safety want to know what went wrong in San Bruno.

Did Pacific Gas and Electric – the company that owns and operates the section of pipeline that ruptured in the residential neighborhood – properly monitor and maintain its safety? And what about the state agency that regulates natural gas distribution?

Last year the California Public Utilities Commission approved a rate hike for PG&E to upgrade the section of pipeline that eventually ruptured. But the commission took no action when PG&E postponed the improvements for four years.

State lawmakers also want to gauge the safety of the tens of thousands of feet of natural gas pipeline that run throughout California.

PG&E distributes most natural gas in northern and central California. Southern California Gas Company distributes much of the rest of the state’s supply.

At the hearing, state senators want executives from both utilities to explain how they monitor and maintain the safety of natural gas pipelines in California.

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