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Overview

Our mission is to save trees in Lafayette, CA and to improve our community's pipeline safety.

Unfortunately, PG&E is failing on both accounts. Their plan to remove 272 trees in Lafayette and as part of their "Community Pipeline Safety Initiative" is a destructive and unnecessary program that will result in the loss of replaceable, iconic trees that line our neighborhoods. 

By prioritizing tree removal over important pipeline integrity projects, PG&E may be making our neighborhoods less save, not more. PG&E should be addressing the exposed pipeline segments, installing remotely activated valves, conducting in-line testing, burying shallow pipelines, and replacing vintage pipeline segments.

GAS pipelines IN LAFAYETTE

In our town of Lafayette, PG&E maintains a high-pressure transmission gas pipeline that serves Moraga and runs through many neighborhoods, including downtown, Happy Valley, Springhill, and Burton Valley.  Parts of this pipeline are 70-80 years old.  Yet, PG&E has not pressure tested or internally inspected (with "smart pigs") on all five Lafayette pipelines, nor installed important remote-controlled safety shut-off valves. Why not?

PG&E has refused to adequately answer many safety questions posed by Lafayette residents who live near or around the trail. These questions include:

  • Why did PG&E ignore the dangerously leaning trees over the exposed spans in Briones Park until Save Lafayette Trees brought it to their attention?

  • Why did PG&E misclassify areas of "high consequence" in Lafayette for decades?

  • If pipelines are visually inspected four times a year, why was the exposed pipeline on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail a surprise to PG&E personnel?

  • What has PG&E done to increase shut-off times for gas flow in the event an emergency in Lafayette, ten years after San Bruno's unfortunate explosion?

  • Why doesn't PG&E conduct non-traditional "smart pig" inspections on every pipeline in Lafayette?

  • Why spent nearly $1 Million to remove trees in Lafayette & Briones Park when no tree has ever caused a serious accident in California, and no law requires this removal? 

  • Why isn't this money used to stop third-party digging, which so happens to be the number one cause of accidents? 17 dig-in accidents on PG&E's pipeline happened in Lafayette in 2019 alone. 

  • Why hasn't PG&E strength tested the pipeline that runs along the Lafayette-Moraga trail, an active linear park used by hundreds of people a day?

  • How can PG&E insist easy access to all points of the pipeline, but then disregard the fact the Plaza Park trellis (a heavy stone and wood structure) remains directly over the pipeline? Why is the 4" diameter tree only feet away deemed "unacceptable"? 

  • Why did PG&E monetarily compensate the City of Lafayette for trees owned on private properties, and not the property owner? 

  • Why won't PG&E give more quantitative information on the local risks of the Lafayette pipeline?

the City of lafayette's role

​Although PG&E misrepresented the safety risks to the City, Lafayette staff and officials bear the responsibility for the following issues:

  • The City did not notify residents living along the trail, or residents with trees on the trees, before signing the March 27, 2017 Tree Cutting Agreement. The plan was introduced by City staff and approved by City Council without public comment.

  • The City accepted money from PG&E for the value of private property trees without notifying the 24 Lafayette households effected.

  • The City placed $530K in a median planting fund which will not replace the lost habitat, shade, and value of the trees lost by PG&E cutting.

  • The City has not placed notices on trees being removed which means Lafayette residents are still not aware of which trees are specifically targeted for removal.

PG&E rationale is wrong

As far as PG&E's claim that trees impede first responder access, we've heard from actual first responders that if there is any chance of a gas leak, the first response would be for emergency personnel to identify the danger zone and wait until a gas line operator shuts off the flow of gas.  Only after gas flow has stopped and dissipated would an emergency vehicle enter into a hazardous area. 

PG&E's rationale that tree roots cause problems on gas pipelines are disproven by their own tree root study. PG&E cannot point to an independent study requiring root removal, and their two studies in 2013 and 2014 say that there is no correlation between tree roots and corrosion. Furthermore, PG&E's original study says that corrosion can be increased by cutting trees and leaving roots (carbon dioxide released during organic decomposition is a known corrosive factor), and yet PG&E chose not to take their own suggestion to further study this risk. 

Their easily-disproven excuses for cutting down trees -- some rare heritage oaks -- erodes our trust in PG&E.