For Immediate Release—September 11, 2018
Contact: Julie Light, 510-992-4083, [email protected]
In Advance of Climate Summit, Advocates Call on Gov. Brown’s Sister to Resign from Sempra Board
Washington, D.C. – On the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit that will hosted by California Gov. Jerry Brown, Food & Water Watch is joining more than a dozen advocacy groups in California and nationwide calling upon Kathleen Brown—Gov. Brown’s sister—to resign from the board of Sempra Energy. Sempra is the parent company of Southern California Gas company, which operates the aging Aliso Canyon storage facility that suffered a catastrophic blowout in 2015. The groups have been calling on Gov. Brown to close the facility, which remains open as his sister continues to profit from her involvement in the company.
The letter notes that since Brown joined the Sempra board in 2013, she has earned $1.4 million from a combination of stocks, cash, phantom shares and other benefits. Meanwhile, Sempra contributed $80,100 total to Jerry Brown’s campaigns for Governor in 2010 and 2014. Since Governor Brown took office in 2011, Sempra’s market capitalization has almost tripled to $28 billion and its stock price has risen 117 percent.
“We are asking you to step down from Sempra’s board as to avoid any appearance or reality of a conflict between your role of maximizing Sempra’s profits and the policies of the Brown Administration surrounding Aliso Canyon and other energy-related matters in the state,” concludes the letter.
“Does Kathleen Brown’s close ties to Governor Brown have any bearing on his failure to close down the facility? We shouldn’t have to even ask that question,” says Food & Water Watch executive director, Wenonah Hauter. “There is a glaring conflict of interest between Governor Brown’s duty to regulate the industry and Kathleen Brown’s financial stakes in keeping Aliso Canyon operational. Aliso Canyon is not only a health nightmare that is unnecessary in meeting California’s energy needs. It is dirty fossil fuel infrastructure that the Governor continues to support—at odds with his so-called climate leadership he seeks to display this week.”
"Sempra pays Governor Brown’s sister to represent the interests of its shareholders. It is in the interests of shareholders to keep open Aliso Canyon, a profitable reservoir for commercial customers to speculate on natural gas at the expense of ratepayers,” said Liza Tucker with Consumer Watchdog. “It is in the interests of local residents to see Aliso Canyon shut down, never to threaten their health again. Instead, Governor Brown’s regulators have protected Sempra from a public investigation and real consequences for causing the biggest methane blowout in U.S. history. Kathleen Brown’s presence on Sempra’s board is a conflict of interest plain and simple. The only way to solve that is for Kathleen Brown to give up her board seat."
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.