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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

38 mins ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

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