The San Bruno, California Fire – Another Crisis Not to Waste!!

Can’t we at least wait 30 days for the National Transportation Safety Commission preliminary report before we jump to conclusions about what caused the tragic fire in the hills of San Bruno, California, last week?   Apparently not!

The smoke was still rising on the ashes of the San Bruno, California, fire catastrophe when our local Congressional delegation, including Senators Boxer and Feinstein,  jumped into the fray to propose new federal legislation regulating the inspection and control of major gas transmission lines.    I totally understand their concern that waiting for the California Legislature to do something sensible is an exercise in frustration — but I have faith that given the facts,  other sovereign states can strengthen their own inspection and repair procedures more nimbly than another expensive and entitled federal bureaucracy!!!

Representative John Garamendi, a former California Insurance Commission, is offering a better suggestion.   He is requesting that the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure conduct hearings, here, in the San Francisco Bay Area, to determine the cause of the explosion.

But, even before we hold those hearings, I have some questions for the local politicians and local bureaucrats, here in California?   WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

How is it possible for a developer to get a permit to build homes right on top of an existing high pressure intra-state gas transmission line?

Planners in California are notorious nitpickers because of the serious risk of large earthquakes.   Why did they give the developers a permit to not just to build houses near the gas transmission line but to pave over it making it inaccessible to frequent inspection?

How is it that a developer can build houses on top of an intra-state high pressure natural gas pipeline and sell those houses without disclosing the risk to potential home buyers?

And, perhaps most significantly, once PG&E identified the pipeline as a priority project, why did the California Public Utility Commission not follow up the rate appropriation to insure the work consumers were paying for was being done?

Combining the NTSB preliminary report with explaining What Where They Thinking should be enough to allow the various state governors, including California’s, to put into place an urgent  intra-state gas transmission line inspection program and do the inspections faster than the Senate can even write a bill!  We don’t need new big government, we need our existing government to apply logic and common sense.

Approving building a housing development on top of a paved over gas transmission line, adjacent to the San Andreas Fault – What could possibly go wrong?  WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

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