Lawmakers Accused of Helping the Wrong People

California lawmakers are being accused of bailing out utility companies responsible for the wildfires

California legislators have been mulling around the idea of moving forward laws, regulations, and ordinances that help protect some of the biggest utility companies in the state – some of which have been found responsible for causing more than a dozen wildfires across the state in just the last year alone.

This obviously has humanitarians up in arms, feeling as though the state government leaders have sold out the people of California to shore up some of their bigger campaign donors. Things are getting ugly.

A major coalition of fire victims, business owners, and local city and county leaders are coming together to protest the legislation that would offer utilities a break on their insurance that protects them against issues like wildfires.

PG & E, one of the largest utility companies in California, was found to have been responsible for at least 16 of the wildfires in Northern California last year alone – some of which had fatalities.

The new legislation would cut down dramatically on the amount of financial exposure that utility companies have should they be found responsible for causing wildfires in the state of California. PG & E alone is facing more than $15 billion in financial exposure from the wildfires that they have been found responsible in 2017, and if this new legislation goes into effect, they would be able to avoid much of those penalties.

Utility companies have been moving forward to try and upgrade their power lines and replace faulty equipment known to cause wildfires across the state of California. Many of the biggest companies are working to find ways to prevent wildfires from happening in the first place, committing hundreds of millions of dollars pooled together to push back against these devastating humanitarian issues.

Last year, the Edison International utility company in California was sued by the city of Ventura, claiming that it was the negligence of this utility company that led to the Thomas wildfires. These fires ended up claiming more than 280,000 acres – burning 440 mi.² of wilderness – and producing untold amounts of devastation throughout Southern California.

Edison International has refused to comment about the cause of the fires, pending the litigation that is right now ongoing, but they aren’t the only utility company that has been sued by cities, counties, and municipalities throughout California over the last 10 years for causing wildfires.

It will be interesting to see if the “bailout” for the utility companies ends up coming to fruition. Many of the most vocal critics behind this legislation are arguing that the laws have clearly been written only for the 2017 hires – which would give PG & E the most to gain if these new laws go into effect.

Local leaders say that climate change has left California variable, and that the humanitarian threat that these fires are capable of is nothing short of catastrophic. Something has to change in California if these kinds of fires are going to be prevented in the future. This legislation likely will not do that.

South African Gold Miners Lawsuit

A look at the lawsuit brought by South African gold miners

 

 

Mining operations, but particularly precious metal and gold mining operations, are understood by most anyone and everyone – industry insiders and outsiders are like – to be a pretty dirty job.  Anytime you are talking about breaking apart the earth in a grand scale, diving deep beneath the soil to excavate, sift, and locate precious metals and minerals from other natural resources you’re talking about a tremendous amount of waste, a tremendous amount of equipment, and a tremendous consumption of fossil fuels – all of which reduces a pretty steady flow of poor quality air throughout the entirety of the mining operation.

 

This is the backbone and foundation contention of a class-action lawsuit brought together by thousands of mine workers and employees living and working in South Africa, all of which have developed lung diseases related to the conditions of their daily work.

 

The lawsuit itself began gaining steam about eight years ago or so but wasn’t brought into the courts of South Africa until six years ago, when thousands of minors throughout the South African region were diagnosed with silicosis – a deadly and dangerous lung disease that is only caused by inhaling the silica dust that is so prevalent in gold mining operations.

 

Progress on the class-action lawsuit has been slow and steady over the past half decade or so. In January 2018, negotiations between the plaintiffs and the defendants slowed down to a pause in the action has tempers were running high in the figures that were being bandied about weren’t anywhere near one another and there didn’t look to be any common ground that could have been breached.

 

However, now in February 2018, it appears as though the class-action lawsuit is closer to a legitimate settlement than ever before. The Working Group on Occupational Lung Disease (the organization representing the six individual gold mining operations that are part of the class-action lawsuit) announced that there has been substantial movement towards a $755 million (US) settlement between all aggrieved parties – and that the settlement could be ratified before the end of the month or the middle of March, at the very latest.

 

Lead attorneys and legal representatives from this organization are in the mind to settle. Almost all of the claimants of this class-action lawsuit are black mining individuals from South Africa and neighboring regions, many of which were not provided with any adequate protection or safety equipment after apartheid rule ceased to exist in South Africa in 1994.

 

The gold mining operations do not want to peel the scab off of those old wounds, and for good reason. Many of them also recognize that these individual minors have a reason to feel aggrieved in the first place, recognize that they were put in harm’s way, and understand that they are going through serious turmoil and will have their lives significantly shortened because of the work that they put into these gold mines over the last 30 or 40 years.

 

Stay tuned for more updates regarding this settlement offer and the agreement that these parties are poised to reach with one another.