A federal judge in San Francisco asked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to advise him on whether possible reckless operation of PG&E power lines in connection with recent wildfires would amount to a state crime.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup is overseeing the utility’s probation in a federal criminal case in which PG&E was convicted of five violations of a pipeline safety law and one count of obstructing an investigation into a fatal pipeline explosion in San Bruno in 2010.
PG&E’s five-year probation includes a requirement not to commit any state, federal or local crimes.
Alsup gave Becerra until Dec. 31 to respond.
The judge previously on Nov. 27 ordered both PG&E and federal prosecutors to provide by Dec. 31 “an accurate and complete statement of the role, if any, of PG&E” in causing the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County in November and other recent wildfires.
Alsup also asked PG&E and prosecutors to state whether the probation ban on crimes “might be implicated” if any wildfire was “started by reckless operation and maintenance of PG&E power lines.”
The judge’s request to Becerra expands on the second question he asked PG&E and the federal prosecutors. It asks whether any reckless operation or maintenance that may be found would be a crime under state law, as opposed to federal law.
PG&E repeated its response to the earlier order, saying, “We are aware of the court’s notice and are currently reviewing it.”
“We continue to focus on assessing infrastructure, safely restoring power where possible, and helping our customers recover and rebuild,” the utility said in a statement.
Story originally published by Bay City News.