LOS ANGELES - A new report by Consumer Watchdog suggests Gov. Jerry Brown showed favoritism for Sempra Energy, the parent company of SoCalGas.
Kathleen Brown, the governor's sister, sits on the board of directors of Sempra Energy. Consumer advocates said she and Sempra have benefited financially from decisions made by state regulators appointed by her brother.
"Jerry Brown's sister has made more than $1 million in a combination of cash and stock from sitting on Sempra's board since 2013. Sempra has done wildly well thanks to the Brown administration," said Liza Tucker, a consumer advocate for the group.
The reopening of the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility is among one of those decisions made by regulators, according to Consumer Watchdog. The facility restarted operations this week after a temporary halt was ordered and then quickly dismissed by a state appeals court.
"They are desperate to show we need this facility and they are the ones who are fear-mongering and scare-mongering and whipping up the public. It is wrong and it has to stop," Tucker said.
The small group held a press conference Tuesday outside the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles, where the California Public Utilities Commission was meeting to investigate the feasibility of minimizing or eliminating the use of the facility.
The group is also calling for a wider investigation and answers into what caused the largest methane gas leak in U.S. history.
"We need help and what I'm hoping is that they will come in and shut this toxic facility down," Porter Ranch resident Deirdre Balonia said.
Eyewitness News contacted the governor's office for comment and they said state regulators cleared the facility to reopen and that Brown wrote a letter on July 19 asking the energy commission to plan for the closure of Aliso Canyon.
As for the comments on the governor's possible conflicts of interest, a spokesman released the following statement: "The bark of California's first dog Colusa has more substance."
SoCalGas also released a statement in response to the report.
"Overall, the report is misleading and attempts to link events that are not connected, fundamentally misrepresenting how California's utilities operate and how they are regulated," it said.