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Capitol Rally Spearheaded By Erin Brockovich Aimed At Keeping PG&E Accountable

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Her crusade against PG&E spawned a hit movie, but celebrity Activist Erin Brockovich is now hoping to put the spotlight on California lawmakers.

Brockovich rallied with wildfire victims at the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon, asking the governor and legislature to "keep Pacific Gas & Electric accountable to these victims."

RELATED: Erin Brockovich Pushes For PG&E To Be Prevented From Filing For Bankruptcy

Many of those fire victims are suing PG&E over the deadly Camp Fire that wiped out their town of Paradise.

"It's like a death, treat it like a death," said Victor Porter who lost his mobile home when Paradise burned.

But like Porter, many victims may not get paid at all if PG&E follows through on its promise to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of the month.

"They're trying to back out to not pay for all these damages… we could be next" said Cheyanne Ehler who lives in the Northern California foothills.

"How dare they and then walk away and not care?" said Francine Ehler.

RELATED: PG&E Bankruptcy Could Mean Price Hikes, Unpaid Fire Lawsuits

Brockovich claims PG&E has enough money to avoid bankruptcy, citing a letter from one of its shareholders, saying the utility giant is solvent.

"It's kind of their go to and if they don't get that they'll come to legislation like they did. And they want to look at bills like getting rid of script liability which basically gives PG&E a pass from ever getting sued again. And when that doesn't work out for them, oh here we come back to the bankruptcy," Brockovich told CBS13.

Brockovich says it won't be the first time PG&E will reorganize to get out of liability.

Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-San Fernando Valley) was assembly speaker when PG&E filed for bankruptcy during the energy crisis back in 2001. The legislature bailed them out then.

But he says it simply has no plans to do the same this time.

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"Nobody in the capitol wants to bail out PG&E, period, exclamation mark, end of story, full stop. They just don't," he said.

Lawmakers say it'll ultimately come down to the Governor. Gavin Newsom has not announced how he'll handle the pending bankruptcy filing.

Newsom's office issued the following statement Tuesday night:

"Our state stands with the survivors of these devastating wildfires, many of whom have lost loved ones and livelihoods in these catastrophic events. PG&E has a moral and legal obligation to do right by wildfire survivors, and I will do everything in my power to ensure these survivors are treated fairly. Every survivor deserves to have their claims heard in a fair process that recognizes their pain and financial losses.
As I said last week, I remain steadfastly committed to working with all stakeholders to find a solution that ensures consumers have access to safe, affordable and reliable service; treats wildfire survivors fairly; and enables California to continue making progress toward our climate goals. Those will continue to be the state's objectives as this process moves forward."

PG&E also gave a statement:

The families impacted by the wildfires of 2017 and 2018 are our customers, our neighbors and our friends and our hearts go out to those who have lost so much. We remain focused on supporting them through the recovery and rebuilding process. We understand and recognize the serious concerns raised by customers and wildfire victims and we acknowledge that while we have made progress, we have more work to do. We're open to a range of solutions that will help make the energy system safer. Additionally, PG&E is committed to working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to continue to provide PG&E customers the safe gas and electric services they expect and need.

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