PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2018 wildfire deaths

June 18, 2020 by  
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Utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) pled guilty this week to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of unlawful fire starting, admitting its faulty power lines began a horrendous 2018  wildfire . Dubbed the Camp Fire, the blaze in question started in Butte County,  California  on November 8, 2018. The fire killed at least 84 people, destroyed about 18,000 buildings and devastated the town of Paradise, making it California’s most destructive wildfire ever. Related: Climate change heightens California’s drought and wildfire risks Butte County Superior Court Judge Michael Deems read out the names of people who’d died in the fire one by one as their photos flashed on a screen. After each charge, PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson said, “Guilty, your honor.” “Our equipment started that fire,” Johnson admitted. A year-long investigation led by Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey determined that PG&E’s outdated equipment caused the 2018 fire. The brutal grand jury report concluded the  utility  company ignored repeated warnings about old, poorly maintained power lines that failed to adhere to state regulations, showing a “callous disregard” for people’s lives and property. PG&E’s plea is part of an agreement with Butte County prosecutors to avoid further criminal proceedings against the utility company. The plea deal includes pledging billions to improve safety and assist Camp Fire victims and accepting closer oversight. The company will pay $3.5 million in fines and a half million in costs. PG&E will also put $15 million towards water for residents, as the Camp Fire destroyed Miocene Canal, one of the area’s vital water sources. “I am here today on behalf of the 23,000 men and women of PG&E, to accept responsibility for the fire here that took so many lives and changed these communities forever,” Johnson said in a written statement. In January 2019, wildfires drove PG&E to file for bankruptcy. The utility has paid out tens of billions in victim settlements and lost billions more in damaged equipment during 2015, 2017 and 2018 wildfires. PG&E has agreed to skip paying out shareholder dividends for three years, which will save about $4 billion. Ramsey said this is the first time any major utility has been charged with homicide stemming from a reckless fire. Still, he is not satisfied with the fine and thinks PG&E should pay much more for the  deaths  and damage that Camp Fire caused. + NPR Image via Pexels

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PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2018 wildfire deaths

154 elephants have mysteriously died in Botswana

June 18, 2020 by  
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Botswana wildlife conservation officials are investigating the mysterious death of 154 elephants in just 3 months. Wildlife officers in the country have said that there has been a sudden surge in deaths of elephants in the northwestern part of the country. The deaths are not associated with poaching or poisoning, according to the Regional Wildlife Coordinator, Dimakatso Ntshebe. The carcasses of these animals were found intact, suggesting that they were not killed by poachers. Normally, poachers will kill elephants for their meat or tusks. According to the regional coordinator, preliminary investigations have also ruled out poisoning via humans and anthrax as the possible causes of death. Anthrax was the first suspect on the list of possible causes, as it naturally occurs in the soil and harms wildlife in Botswana. But initial investigations by scientists have ruled out the possibility of anthrax and poisoning. Related: Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants These recent deaths are raising alarm considering that elephant populations all over Africa have been under threat from poaching , poisoning and anthrax. Today, Botswana is home to almost one-third of all the elephants on the continent. Due to efforts to protect wildlife in the country, the population of elephants in Botswana has risen to 130,000 in 2020 from just 80,000 in the 1990s. The same can’t be said about other countries with less stringent wildlife laws. The deaths of these elephants in Botswana comes at a time when wildlife conservation efforts have been dealt a big blow in the country. Last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a 5-year ban on big game hunting, prompting uproar from conservation groups. Although the growing number of elephants in Botswana might seem like a positive move to the rest of the world, it is not much welcomed by the locals. Farmers have raised complaints about the elephants destroying crops; it is such complaints that prompted the president to allow big game poaching again. Besides the mysterious elephant deaths, Botswana still grapples with the problem of poachers. According to the Wildlife Conservation Officers in Botswana, the Okavango Delta alone has lost over 25 elephants to poachers between December 2019 and May 2020. The situation has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, as poachers take advantage due to the lack of safari tourists. The Regional Wildlife Coordinator now says that they are intensifying surveillance in high-risk areas to curb poaching. Samples from the dead elephants are also under scrutiny to determine the exact cause of death so that intervention measures can be taken. Via Reuters and Yale Environment 360 Image via Anja

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154 elephants have mysteriously died in Botswana

Utilities are the new cool

April 9, 2020 by  
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Thriving in the age of climate change pivots around electricity, and that means electric utilities are at the center.

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Utilities are the new cool

Leading states have designed new ways to help utilities fight climate change

February 27, 2020 by  
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An inside look at innovations afoot to manage energy demand in at least 13 states.

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Leading states have designed new ways to help utilities fight climate change

Driving a zero-emissions future: GM’s holistic approach to meeting long-term energy goals

January 20, 2020 by  
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Sponsored: CMS Enterprises talks with global sustainability leader Rob Threlkeld of General Motors about the roles renewable energy plays in helping GM meet its energy and business goals.

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Driving a zero-emissions future: GM’s holistic approach to meeting long-term energy goals

Collaborative resource planning by utilities and customers benefits both

December 5, 2019 by  
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By working together, each side can achieve their goals far more quickly.

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Collaborative resource planning by utilities and customers benefits both

Empower businesses and communities to transform California’s electric grid

November 1, 2019 by  
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Communities and businesses, not just aging utilities, have solutions. It’s time to change antiquated policies and regulations that stand in the way.

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Empower businesses and communities to transform California’s electric grid

Reclaiming power in California

November 1, 2019 by  
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When the lights stop working and communities and businesses grind to a halt, people understand what it means to be powerless.

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What western states can learn from Native American wildfire management strategies

November 1, 2019 by  
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Indigenous climate adaptation plans have actively managed forest ecosystems with fire for centuries.

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What western states can learn from Native American wildfire management strategies

Hurricane season and the conversation we need to have

September 6, 2019 by  
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The fragility of the electric grid is on everyone’s minds — it’s time to make it a more resilient, reliable energy system.

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Hurricane season and the conversation we need to have

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