Los Angeles prosecutors filed lawsuit against gas company over methane leak


Los Angeles prosecutors filed lawsuit against gas company over methane leak

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, a Democrat who lives in the Porter Ranch neighborhood that has been most affected by the gas leak, said the agency's advisory amounted to a note to industry saying: "not just please, but pretty please" follow the American Petroleum Institute's recommended practices for gas storage.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that she has filed a lawsuit against Southern California Gas Company, alleging the company failed to report the massive methane leak near Los Angeles in a timely manner.

The lawsuit filed by the attorney general seeks unspecified civil penalties and follows similar action taken in December by the Los Angeles city attorney.

Many residents from Porter Ranch joined a class of action suit filed against the company.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department is investigating the case, according to Lacey's office.

Southern California Gas Co. was charged with failing to immediately report the natural gas leak at its Aliso Canyon underground storage facility that has driven thousands of residents from their homes and prompted Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

The gas leak is still ongoing but the well from which it emanates could be sealed by late February. NPR notes that the company has already been sued by the city and county of Los Angeles, as well as owners of businesses in Porter Ranch, residents of Porter Ranch, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Necessary steps were made to mitigate the leak and prevent future discharges, however, these attempts failed. The release of so much methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, complicates California's efforts to reduce emissions and contribute to slowing the pace of climate change.

Stephen Conley a researcher with UC Davis has been flying over the Southern California gas leak every week to measure the amount of methane released into the atmosphere

The company said in a statement that it will vigorously defend itself in court.

"It appears that the entire Los Angeles basin is now feeling the effects of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak".

He said elected officials across Los Angeles have received calls from SoCal Gas customers complaining of "abnormally high bills" from SoCal Gas.

The charges could result in a fine of up to $25,000 for each day that the company didn't notify state agencies of the leak, and an extra $1,000 a day for "pollution violations".

SoCal, however, has repeatedly insisted that it complied with all relevant state and federal regulations prior to the leak.

Residents have reported maladies that include headaches, nosebleeds, rashes and other woes.

The goal of the new regulations is "being able to detect these emissions in an early phase so we know as soon as possible that they're happening and if something does happen, there is a responsibility to look at the emission reduction side of it as well", said Elizabeth Scheehle, branch chief of the Oil and Gas and GHG Mitigation Branch. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) that would direct Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to lead a federal review of the Aliso Canyon disaster and the response to the leak.



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