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 500 trees in Lafayette and Briones Park 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 automated 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 80 years old.  Yet, PG&E has never done an internal inspection (smart pig) testing of these lines, direct assessment, nor installed important automated 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:

  • If pipelines are visually inspected four times a year, why was the exposed pipeline a surprise to them?

  • Why was this exposed pipeline left in place, decades after residents reported this to PG&E?

  • Why are there no automated safety shut off valves in Lafayette's busy neighborhoods ten years after San Bruno's unfortunate explosion?

  • Why doesn't PG&E implement new "smart pigs" for internally inspected pipelines, since new technology enables them to do so in aging pipelines such as ours?

  • 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? 13 dig-in accidents on PG&E's pipeline happened in Lafayette in 2016 alone. 

  • Why hasn't PG&E strength tested the pipeline that runs along the Lafayette-Moraga border for over 35 years?

  • 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 PG&E concerned with trees, when they have a severe problem with third-party dig-ins -- 27 such accidents the last two years in Lafayette alone! It's their number one cause of leaks, statewide.

the City of lafayette's role

 

Unfortunately, the City of Lafayette also bears responsibility for putting our heritage trees at risk:

  • 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 in less than an hour without public comment. This is a violation of due process.

  • The City sold private property trees to PG&E by accepting money for their removal without notifying the 24 households effected. Those parties are now at risk of facing lawsuits by PG&E should they not agree to let PG&E cut their trees.

  • The City accept $531K to be placed in a median planting fund, not to restore devastated neighborhoods with the planting of similar size & species of trees. They are now using it for their own legal defense.

  • The City refuses to require notices to be placed on trees being removed. Lafayette residents are still not aware of which trees are specifically targeted, over one year later.

  • The City of Lafayette refuses to rescind the Tree Cutting Agreement, although we have consistently demonstrated that PG&E's safety rationale was grossly misrepresented.

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.

©2019 by Save Lafayette Trees, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit