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March 2024

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Tree Assessment Teams Do Not Agree That Tree Removal Necessary - In 2021, a "Tree Assessment Process" was approved by City Council in order to resolve the tree issue by having an two arborists and two pipeline experts discuss the merits of tree removal in closed-door sessions. One arborist & one pipeline expert were hired to represent the City, one team hired by PG&E. After two long years, that process is complete, and it does not appear this issue has been resolved. End result: both arborists have no technical reason to remove trees, other than saying some were of poor health. The City's pipeline expert adamantly says pipeline tree removal is unnecessary and that PG&E is not being forthcoming. Unsurprisingly, PG&E hired a firm to support the original position of tree removal. PG&E still wants to remove 130 trees, which is a smaller number than 207, but still demonstrates an unwillingness to put mandated safety measures (testing, automated valves, etc) ahead of destructive, discretionary tree removal.

NEW: Read the reports here and see the current PG&E-proposed map of discretionary tree removals as of Nov 2023.



PG&E Came to Lafayette - PG&E appeared before Lafayette City Council on October 10th to respond to the many safety questions regarding electrical and gas maintenance. Mayor Anduri and Vice-Mayor Dawson both pointed out that PG&E failed to respond to a number of questions with any substantive response. The biggest concerns we have at SLT is the failure of PG&E to test 70-year old pipelines, despite regulatory requirements, and their inability to confirm HCA (High Consequence Areas) which is the most important determiner for more thorough integrity management operations. PG&E has failed to identify two important HCA sites in Lafayette, as we've pointed out. 

If you'd like to watch that portion of the City Council meeting: click here.


Our Lawsuit Against City & PG&E now completeSuccess!  Now that the City and PG&E dissolved the Tree Agreement from 2017, our lawsuit to stop this agreement was closed by the Superior Court of California on September 14, 2023. As a reminder, our CEQA lawsuit's remedy was to dissolve the agreement which allowed PG&E to conduct destructive and discretionary tree removal without environmental review. Now that there is no agreement, the issue is moot. We want to thank our large number of supporters who gave time, money, and effort. The fight to increase pipeline safety continues, but for now 272 trees, mostly heritage oaks, remain standing and protected from the unnecessary PG&E tree cutting. 


PG&E's cancellation of electrical "Enhanced Vegetation Management" a model for pipeline tree removals: On August 3, 2023 the Wall Street Journal reported PG&E has discontinued the 5 year, $2.5 Billion EVM project, calling it "ineffective". PG&E insisted this was an essential program for ensuring public safety, but found later there was no data to backup their assertions. Sound familiar? 


PG&E and Lafayette respective lawsuits dropped:  PG&E and the City of Lafayette have resolved their respective lawsuits, and the Bankruptcy Court has ruled without opposition from the City that the Tree Removal Agreement from 2017 has been rescinded. This is major news with implications for our lawsuit against PG&E and the City.



Pipeline Safety, Not Tree Removals:  We recently showed both PG&E and the CPUC that they were incorrectly calculating HCA (high consequence sites) -- areas that require greater testing by law in Lafayette. PG&E thought the Growing Light Montessori preschool wasn't near their pipeline, and we pointed out it in fact lies only feet from the front door of the daily preschool.  We also showed the CPUC and PG&E that they aren't protecting 100% of their pipeline with cathodic protection, as stations in Lafayette remain broken for years as proven by photographs taken by residents.




City Council approves Tree Assessment: On Sept. 27th the City Council approved the Proposed Tree Assessment Process which explains how the City will hire a one pipeline expert and one tree arborist, and PG&E will hire one pipeline expert and one tree arborist, and those four people will re-examine 207 trees for the need to complete removal. Should those experts come to a conclusion of a list of trees, these will be brought before Council for an expedited tree permit process. The purpose of this process is for the City & PG&E to resolve their lawsuits.


Lafayette Pipeline Audit Results -  The CPUC released their closure letter after conducting the Transmission Integrity Management Program (TIMP) audit in Lafayette. While many questions remain unanswered, PG&E was found to be "unsatisfactory" in how they calculated HCA (high consequence areas) in Lafayette. This is a very important designation triggering testing requirements. PG&E was also asked to continue to study the root/pipeline interaction information given the study performed before implementing the CPSI program. The CPUC also asked PG&E to conduct more studies about the risk of letting roots en mass die along the pipeline, which can add risk by causing external corrosion.


Spring Update -  PG&E continues their transmission gas pipeline work in downtown Lafayette. After testing just one mile of one pipeline in November, they discovered 69 instances of corrosion. The ranked the highest risk sections and are currently digging at 13 locations around town, repairing their line. This is important work for maintaining the safety of our 70-yr old pipelines. 


Winter 2020 Update - We're waiting on the CPUC's audit report of Lafayette gas transmission pipelines which should be published in April. As you may recall, the Gas Safety Task Force requested the CPUC to conduct a detailed review, which couldn't be completed until PG&E suddenly conducted a major downtown inline inspection program. The result of those tests?  PG&E recently reported to the City of Lafayette they have found an incredible 69 instances of corrosion near downtown Lafayette. PG&E is requesting 36 encroachment permits to dig up their line to further inspect and repair. Corrosion, both internal and external, is a known safety risk to pipelines, so we appreciate PG&E's efforts to address. 


City of Lafayette Files Lawsuit Against PG&E - To stop the tree cutting, below, the City of Lafayette has filed a lawsuit against PG&E for violating the terms of the 2017 Tree Agreement. Thank you Lafayette City Council for your fast & decisive response. A Bankruptcy Court hearing is scheduled for the morning of Nov 17, 2020, to determine if a temporary stay on cutting 17 trees should be ordered.


Read the City's press release.


PG&E Threatens 17 Trees on Lafayette-Moraga Trail - On Nov. 10, PG&E placed A-frame signs east of Stanley Middle School notifying residents 17 protected trees would be removed along the gas pipeline. The City requires PG&E to receive approval for Tree Permits, which they have not done. These trees are along untested pipelines installed in 1952, and do not pose a safety threat. PG&E should be testing and protecting these pipelines instead of taking valuable shade and screening from homes along the trail. We are studying our legal options at this time.


CPUC Audit - The CPUC conducted one week of their Lafayette-specific TIMP (Transmission Integrity Management Program) audit. At our request, the CPUC will be conducting a second week of the audit to further explore questions we submitted directly to the regulator and the operator. Read our letter of concerns here.


Pipeline Strength Testing Downtown - Without warning, PG&E coned off major portions of downtown from Aug - Nov. We've asked PG&E for the past three years to improve pipeline testing in Lafayette, and yet we were just as surprised. What caused them to perform these tests now? These 70-year old pipelines were not pressure tested and we are thankful it's finally happening in the busiest part of town. If weaknesses are found, PG&E will be replacing these pipelines. We ask that they share all information as this program commences in the name of full transparency. See the Lamorinda Weekly article for more information.


Lafayette Homeowner Council - today (July 27) the LHC again submitted a letter to the Lafayette City Council asking they hold PG&E accountable to safety while operating our pipelines, particularly regarding the use of automated shut-off valves. They also ask the City to stop the tree-cutting agreement with PG&E as this program does not improve safety. We appreciate their support, and encourage everyone to read their letter here.


PG&E Pipeline Safety - In our last discussion with PG&E, we discussed PG&E's second exposed pipeline report that confirmed dangers of exposed lines with overhanging trees during wildfire. PG&E again chose to not study the welds on the pipeline, which we believe is a mistake. PG&E also confirmed they mis-identified the Girl Scout camp as non High Consequence Area, and that they fixed that designation. PG&E said there were again 17 dig-in accidents in their gas pipeline system in Lafayette, which we identified as an issue that needs addressing. We hope these (and other) safety concerns will be resolved before removing trees above the pipeline.


LETTER TO CPUC SENT BY LAFAYETTE MAYOR - PG&E has stopped communicating with Lafayette and its residents regarding gas safety. This fundamental change in how they worked with us to improve pipeline safety happened after we pointed out the exposed pipelines in Briones Park and Girl Scout camp, thereby showing PG&E does not adequately prioritize safety issues. As a result, the Mayor of Lafayette has sent this strong letter to the head of the CPUC, copying Governor Newsom and PG&E CEO Bill Johnson. Thank you, Mayor Mike Anderson! We will update this site with any reaction from the CPUC, PG&E, or our state officials.


THANKS LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL - We're thankful for the members of our City Council.  Not only are listening to our concerns about PG&E in many of our City Council meetings, they are taking action in a visible and helpful way. On Nov 25th, they heard our lengthy presentation on gas pipeline safety in Lafayette and will be budgeting for an official commission on utilities. Earlier, the Mayor sent a letter to the CPUC asking that PG&E be held accountable financially for the power shut offs and fires which were caused by sub-standard lines. He also appeared on the news explaining these concerns. And as described in the Lamorinda Weekly, the Council invited PG&E to finally answer many of the questions around the Olympic Drive expanded regulator station, only to find PG&E failed to show. We appreciate the Council's work to encourage PG&E to be transparent and accountable.

Download: Presentation to City Council - Nov 25, 2019


EXPOSED PIPELINES - We now know of FOUR exposed pipeline segments that pose a significant risk in the high wildfire zones of Briones Park and Springhill neighborhood. One sagging span in particular was brought up to PG&E four years ago. Another span is in Girl Scout camp where 250 kids stay and build fires. Another span had a nearby resident asking for years for PG&E to cut down increasingly-leaning trees, only to be told "we'll get back to you." PG&E seems to be ignoring important safety issues even when brought to their attention. 


Lafayette Reservoir Rim Trail.jpeg

Save Lafayette Trees


improve PG&E pipeline safety

Our mission: protect the environment and demand better gas safety from PG&E
in Lafayette and Califo


See the map of proposed PG&E tree removals


PG&E tree removal near gas transmission pipelines is not a safety program. It's a simple right-of-way clearing program that diverts attention away from important gas pipeline safety projects.


PG&E should focus on mandated safety improvements including pressure testing all Lafayette's aging pipelines, conducting internal pipeline "pig" inspections, installing remote-controlled isolation valves, replacing vintage pipelines, protecting exposed pipeline spans, and adding cathodic protection. 

Supporting organizations:


  • 272 trees saved to date, mostly protected heritage trees.

  • Started CEQA lawsuit that successfully ended the City's Tree Agreement.

  • Discovered flaws in PG&E's identification of High Consequence Areas, a CPUC violation.

  • Prompted pipeline safety improvements in Lafayette: PG&E buried pipeline, completed integrity testing, added cathodic protection.

  • Identified four dangerous exposed pipelines in Lafayette. Successfully convinced PG&E to mitigate unprotected pipelines of environmental hazards.

  • Highlighted dangers of Tier 2 & Tier 3 wildfire zones to pipeline safety.

  • Won the Court of Appeal decision in CEQA lawsuit against PG&E in early 2019.

  • Conducting ongoing Pipeline Safety Alliance meetings with PG&E, CPUC, City of Lafayette.

  • Presented at national Pipeline Safety Trust conference in New Orleans.

  • Supported other communities and individuals in California..

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