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In brief: Penalty of $1.4 billion sought in fatal pipeline explosion

Wed., Sept. 3, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – California regulatory judges recommended a $1.4 billion penalty on Tuesday – the largest safety-related levy ever against a public utility in the state – for a fiery 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people in a suburban San Francisco neighborhood.

The California Public Utilities Commission said the figure reached by two administrative law judges over the San Bruno pipeline explosion reflected nearly 3,800 violations of state and federal law, regulations and standards by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in the operation of its gas pipelines.

The penalty is meant to “send a strong message to PG&E, and all other pipeline operators, that they must comply with mandated federal and state pipeline safety requirements, or face severe consequences,” Timothy J. Sullivan, one of the two judges, wrote in the order.

The recommended penalty requires approval by members of the state utility board. PG&E and other parties in the case have 30 days to lodge an appeal.

Home prices increased at slower pace in July

WASHINGTON – U.S. home prices rose in July but at a slower rate compared with earlier this year. The moderating price increases could help support sales.

Real estate data provider CoreLogic says prices rose 7.4 percent in July from July 2013. That was slightly below June’s year-over-year increase of 7.5 percent.

Prices rose 1.2 percent in July from June. But CoreLogic’s monthly figures aren’t adjusted for seasonality, such as buying that occurs in warm weather.

The smaller price gains should make homes more affordable.

Washington Post names new publisher

WASHINGTON – The Washington Post is ending 80 years of being led by the Graham family with the departure of Publisher Katharine Weymouth.

The newspaper said Tuesday that Weymouth, the granddaughter of longtime Washington Post Co. CEO Katharine Graham, is stepping down. She will be replaced by Frederick Ryan, who previously ran the political website and newspaper Politico.

Weymouth announced Tuesday that she will leave the Post after serving for 17 years in various roles. She has been publisher for seven years.

“This is just the beginning of a wonderful new chapter for The Post,” she said in a statement.

The change follows the sale of the publication last year to founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million. On Tuesday, Bezos announced the appointment of Ryan as the new publisher.

Ryan had served as president and CEO of Politico since its inception in 2007. In the 1980s, Ryan was chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan.

Dollar General raises bid for Family Dollar

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. – Dollar General upped its bid for the rival Family Dollar chain and addressed an earlier roadblock, saying it will more than double the number of stores it would shed to ease the antitrust concerns of its takeover target.

The newest bid is worth $9.1 billion, or $80 per share, up from $78.50 per share in the previous offer.

Family Dollar, based in Matthews, North Carolina, rejected the earlier bid in favor of a lower offer of $8.5 billion from Dollar Tree Inc., saying regulators were less likely to stand in the way. Family Dollar said Tuesday it has received Dollar General’s latest bid and will review it.


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