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PG&E truck surveys damage from fallen tree. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

PG&E still plans to move forward with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing, a source close to the company tells Axios.

Driving the news: California investigators ruled Thursday that PG&E was not responsible for the 2017 Tubbs fire near Santa Rosa that destroyed thousands of acres and killed more than 20 people.

  • The company's stock jumped 70% after the announcement.

The backdrop: PG&E is on the hook for $30 billion dollars in liability costs for fires in the past two years. Per a company filing, at least $10 billion is for the 2017 fires, but it’s unclear how much of that amount is for the Tubbs fire specifically. PG&E's equipment was linked to over a dozen fires in 2017.

  • PG&E still faces “significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial situation, which was further impaired by the recent credit agency downgrades to below investment grade," a company spokesman tells Axios.

California has not concluded its investigation into whether PG&E’s power lines sparked the 2018 Camp Fire, which eclipsed the Tubbs Fire as the worst in the state’s history.

Yes, but: BlueMountain Capital Management, the hedge fund set to launch a full-on proxy battle with PG&E, is urging the company not to file for Chapter 11.

  • “The news from Cal Fire ... is another example of why the company shouldn't be rushing to file for bankruptcy, which would be totally unnecessary and bad for all stakeholders,” said a spokesman for BlueMountain, which owns about a 1% equity stake in PG&E.
  • The hedge fund has sent a series of letters to the company (including one calling on PG&E to replace its entire board) arguing against bankruptcy.

Bottom line: The most likely reason PG&E would halt its bankruptcy filing is any indication that California legislators would be willing to step in and help.

  • California governor Gavin Newsom, per the Fresno Bee: PG&E's bankruptcy remains “an open-ended question, and that’s a question for them.”

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

5 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.

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