It has been two-and-a-half years since the nation’s worst-ever gas blowout at the SoCalGas storage facility in Aliso Canyon in Southern California. Yet Governor Jerry Brown has yet to meet with families living in the surrounding area, despite the fact that many are still sick from ongoing leaks at the gas field.
State regulators approved the partial reopening the facility last summer, and Brown says could take ten years to close it for good. Families in the area want the facility closed now, once and for all.
“Governor Brown needs to do his job and protect the families still sickened by Aliso Canyon,” said Jane Fowler, resident of Granada Hills. Fowler and her family continue to be ill from exposure to Aliso Canyon. “We can’t wait ten years to close this facility. We are so tired of getting sick, and we need Brown to have the conscience to take real and immediate action for closure.”
Over the course of four months, the Aliso Canyon blowout released 100,000 metric tons of methane and displaced thousands of families in Los Angeles. More than two years later, the cause of the blowout is still undisclosed.
Earlier this month, an administrative judge ordered Aliso Canyon operator SoCalGas to investigate the feasibility of closing the facility now. Judge Melissa Semcer acknowledged that there is an “inherent tension” in asking the gas company to study whether its own operation is needed, but said that no independent experts could be found.
Judge Semcer’s decision prompted the City of Los Angeles attorney to fire off a letter to the state’s Public Utilities Commission questioning whether SoCalGas could provide an unbiased study. The letter suggests using national laboratories and university professors to carry out an objective study.
What legacy will Governor Brown leave regarding the ongoing crisis at Aliso Canyon? Now is his chance to do the right thing, meet with affected families, and shut down the gas facility once and for all.